A local baker is back on the Food Network competing in holiday-themed baking challenges.

Maddie Carlos, owner of Something Sweet by Maddie Lou in Coon Rapids, is making her fifth appearance on a Food Network competition this holiday season.

Carlos is competing in season two of “Holiday Wars,” which airs at 7 p.m. Sundays on the Food Network. Carlos’s team, the Blizzardly Bakers, has won two out of three episodes so far, with three more episodes to air.

She enjoys competing on the Food Network because it pushes her skills to the limit, Carlos said.

“Every time I go on there we compete against the most amazing decorators and bakers in the United States, and I learn new things every single time and I really push myself to the limits, because you obviously have to go big on Food Network or you go home,” Carlos said.

This show is different than previous competitions Carlos has entered. For one, there are the challenges of filming during the coronavirus pandemic, but also the quick turnaround. It usually takes nine to 10 months to produce a show after filming it, but this one only took 60 days, Carlos said.

While Carslon wasn’t allowed to speak on how much the coronavirus impacted filming, she did say the production company took extra measures to ensure none of the participants fell ill.

Five teams made up of three cake artists and a sugar artist compete in each episode, which consists of two rounds. Teams are randomly assembled, and competitors don’t know who they will work with, who the judges are or even who is hosting the show, Carlos said.

That meant Carlos was pleasantly surprised when host Raven Symone, of whom Carlos is a fan, made her appearance.

“We had already started filming the first episode when she walked out, and it was so exciting,” Carlos said.

Round one is a 45-minute challenge where the competitors have to complete a task cooked up by the judges. At the end the judges announce the two teams who performed the worst, and the bottom ranked team has to sit out the next round.

But they are not eliminated. Instead, it takes three losses in the first round to send a team packing.

“It kind of gives everyone the opportunity to make up for their mistakes should they make them,” Carlos said.

The second round of each episode consists of a five-hour challenge. The teams are given a theme and have to construct a 4-foot by 4-foot display that includes a tasting element aligning with the theme.

Whoever wins round two gets to open a present from Santa.

Carlos said she absolutely loves the themes of the first three episodes to air. The first was a last-minute parade with Santa and Mrs. Clause. The second theme revolved around Santa becoming a superhero in his spare time.

The third theme focused on a turkey trying to escape being eaten during Thanksgiving.

“We made the turkey bake a cake that looks like a real turkey, and then he was hiding under the table, and when the family cut the turkey it was an actual cake,” Carlos said.

The next episode “When Toys Come Alive...And Go Wild” airs Sunday, Nov. 22, at 7 p.m.


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