Cake artist Tracy Irwin couldn’t believe it when the Food Network contacted her on Instagram last summer to ask if she was interested in competing on its new TV show, Winner Cakes All.
Television personality and Chef Giada De Laurentiis hosts the show, which premiered Dec. 31st in the United States. Each week, it features four impressive bakers who compete in elaborate cake-baking challenges. Only one team wins the $10,000 prize.
“Just to be called by them was jaw-dropping. I was floored. It was unreal. In my wildest dreams, I never expected it,” says the 31-year-old who owns Sugar by Tracy in Penhold.
“They liked my style and got a good sense of who I was as a person on Instagram,” she says.“Most bakeries are very professional and fluffy and pink on Instagram and I’m not. It’s all me.”
Irwin and her baking partner, Julie Hallman, went through a series of challenges to qualify for the show. These included interview sessions with producers and a separate baking challenge where she impressed them with a ‘dark and twisty’ superhero inspiration of Spawn.
“I wanted to make something that really showcased my artistic side and details and awesome techniques with airbrushing,” she said.
The High River native moved to Penhold seven years ago. She said she has always been creative and learned to bake by watching cooking shows. Irwin started out baking for her kids but her business kept growing until she had a commercial kitchen in her basement. Once the business outgrew her home, she opened the bakery and coffee shop about a year ago.
The cake-baking sensation says she found out she qualified for the show five weeks later. A few days later, the baking duo flew to Los Angeles where the challenge took place on a vineyard on the coast.
“It was a huge open tent. It was plus 30 degrees Celsius with a kitchen that we didn’t know. And things we’ve never touched before,” she says.
Tensions were running high.
Irwin and Hallman made an elaborately decorated cake with tools they had never used before.
“I never had big power tools in my kitchen and I knew that I needed to so prior to going down, I read up and learned as much as I could so I’d have an arsenal of tricks and things to use,” she says.
Irwin can’t say who won but the episode where she competes against contestants from Texas, New York and Los Angeles to bake a cake for American ventriloquist Darci Lynne airs Jan. 14th in the United States.
A Winner Cake All viewing party hosted by Sugar by Tracy takes place Jan. 15th. The Food Network website for Canada reads her episode called Darci Lynne’s Birthday airs Jan. 27th at 7 and 10 p.m. and Jan. 28th at 8 and 11 p.m.