Denver Cookie Artist Wins Food Network’s Christmas Cookie Challenge

What started as a creative outlet in 2019 for baker Anh Phan turned into an unbelievable opportunity to compete on a national stage. Phan is the owner of Decadent Dough, which specializes in custom, made-to-order cookies that resemble tiny works of art. “I have always loved watching baking shows and competitions and especially loved watching ‘Christmas Cookie Challenge.’ Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could compete with the best of the best,” says Phan after receiving a DM about the opportunity to compete on the show.

Photo Courtesy of Decadent Dough

Like most people during the Pandemic, Phan explored other creative outlets outside her everyday job of owning a lingerie business. She discovered cookie decorating while scrolling through social media one day and knew she had to give it a shot. Since then, she has been able to hone in on her skills, eventually turning her newfound hobby into a side hustle – something she never could’ve imagined.

While Phan acknowledges that this job is very rewarding, it comes with its own challenges. When she is unable to accommodate every request she receives, learning to balance both has become a learning curve for her. “Recently, I am learning that an overworked me affects more than just the business,” she notes.

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“The best part of my work is being a special part of the clients’ celebrations and traditions. For example, making cookies for an engagement to their wedding to their first child. I love designing and creating little works of art that capture the occasion. It’s so rewarding to take your initial 2D drawings and bring them to physical form,” Phan reflected. 

Photo Courtesy of Decadent Dough

Although the episode aired on November 30, Phan had to keep the show a secret for months, but reflects on her journey as “the most fun, riveting, and memorable experience of [her] life.” She describes herself as a “nervous, introverted, quiet person” who would’ve never applied to do this independently, so she was hesitant to say yes at first. However, after casting, she thought, “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Pushing past the fear of judgment from celebrity judges and a national audience and opening herself to vulnerability not only led her to meet some of the best bakers across the country but also to experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that solidified her confidence in her career and life. With her new accolade, Phan wishes to continue to grow her business on a larger scale and would love to be able to “teach others to decorate and share [her] work with as many cookie lovers as possible.”

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“Out-of-This-World Christmas” was the episode Phan was featured in, which required the bakers to undergo two rounds of competition with one elimination in-between and create unique designs that resembled Christmas on other planets to rocket ships while also utilizing unique ingredients like freeze-dried astronaut foods. The prize for the winner was $10,000, a giant Golden Ornament and, of course, the title of Christmas Cookie Champion.