South Florida baker wins Food Network’s Christmas Cookie Challenge; Huge plans for Marriott in Singer Island.
– interview with Brittani.
So first off congratulations, it’s got to be pretty sweet being labeled as the “Best Cookie Baker in the Country” after winning Food Network’s Christmas Cookie Challenge. How do you celebrate after winning such an accolade and of course the $10,000 prize?
Brittani- Thank you very much! It all still feels very surreal to be labeled as the best cookie baker in the country, but boy do I feel extremely proud and grateful. I celebrated my win by taking some time off for a trip up to Brevard, NC. I stayed in a cabin to unwind, relax, hike and enjoy the moment. I love being around nature—it relaxes and inspires me all at the same time.
Was there anything that really surprised you or did you just feel at home in their kitchen and void of the pressure of television, etc.?
Brittani- Every challenge was a complete surprise, but I thought of it as “just another day at work,” except that I was in a dream kitchen full of every tool and ingredient you could ever need (and then some). I tried my best to tune out all of the cameras and just focus on what I had to accomplish.
What would you tell people aspiring to follow in your footsteps and challenge others in a cooking competition? Is there a secret recipe to it?
Brittani- The most important thing when competing is time management. The moment you lose control of what you’re doing, you’ll crash and burn. As long as you can stay on top of what has to be done and give yourself enough time to do it, you’ll succeed. You have to be able to push your boundaries, especially with a time crunch.
With one competition successfully wrapped up, should we expect to see you competing again?
Brittani- I sure hope so! I would love to compete on other shows and hopefully Food Network wants me too. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
Soon, I understand that you have big plans at the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa to create an edible wonderland using their entire lobby so what goes into creating something like that? Are elves flown in or do you create it all with a team in house?
Brittani- Our elves are our hosts here at the resort. It takes an entire hotel with people from different departments to come together and pull something like this off. The engineering department is working throughout the night hanging ornaments and garland, the food and beverage team is wrapping presents and decorating trees, and my pastry team is working tirelessly to get it all done in time. It was something I’ve never taken on before, and it’s nice to see everyone’s hard work pay off just by how the guests of our resort awe over everything—shocked that the cookies on the tree are edible.
Was the notion of doing this one of those where you’re like “how do I go bigger after creating a monstrous gingerbread house for the resort last year?”
Brittani- I started planning the gingerbread house in May/June and knew that it was only natural to outdo ourselves from past year’s house. We added on an entire second building, an overhanging porch, six flower beds and a chimney this year. I then thought, why not tie the gingerbread house into the lobby to create a feel of Santa’s Bake Shop? This also tied into the airing of the Christmas Cookie Challenge. I am constantly challenging myself and with teamwork we managed to pull it off.
Lastly, beyond the treat of your edible lobby in the future, where/when could people divulge on all the sweet offerings you had on the show, especially the amazing 3D Globe Cookies you made?
Brittani- I’m not sure if the snow globes will ever make it in our café—my hands are still shaking from unmolding those spheres! When they are featured on Food Network’s “12 Days of Christmas,” the recipe will be attached. We have a café here on property that is a great place for a grab-and-go treat, whether you fancy croissants, muffins, cannolis, mousse bombs, verrines, tarts… the list goes on and on and the offerings are made fresh daily and continuously changing.
About Brittani Szczecina
Szczecina, the extremely talented native Floridian joined the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa in 2014, creates edible works of art for weddings and events, as well as signature desserts for the resort’s signature restaurant, 3800 Ocean. She is a graduate of The Art Institute in Charlotte where she was a member of its culinary competition team.