Asheville – An Asheville talent and her teammate won the Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown with a small-town winter scene that came alive thanks to its moving parts.
Linda Carney and her longtime friend Cheryl Filion of Medina, Ohio together won a $10,000 cash prize by beating two other tandems of a gingerbread baker and assistant, according to the Food Network. Filion assisted Carney.
This winning duo worked together on a 38-inch tall creation that was 36 inches in diameter. Their theme was a wintry scene with people enjoying the outdoors drawn from their childhood memories. The contest required contestants to create a snow globe scene of holiday memories made mostly from gingerbread. A candied tree is enclosed in a huge globe atop the winning entry.
They had to design and bake it within ten hours while being filmed. The three teams competed in Knoxville, Tenn. earlier this year. The winner was announced in mid-November in a Gingerbread Showdown episode titled ‘Best in Show.’ The host was Jesse Palmer, a former NFL quarterback. Judges were three noted bakers or food experts.
The Food Network noted how “baking twists that can make or break their creations” were a pivotal factor. Specifically, the surprise was having to include a treat using shredded coconut as snow.
Carney and Filion baked shortbread cookie trees with cherry amaretto and sprinkled coconut on top of them.
The entry’s motion is a pivotal distinction. Carney noted that the creation’s parts that move on mechanical turntables include skaters on a pond, sledders on a hill and the base of a snow globe on a tree. A rocking horse, gazebo and three-dimensional gingerbread trees are among other features.
The base is a four feet square table.
Carney used traditional royal icing. The balance is to make it thick enough to hold together gingerbread creations, yet smooth enough to be spread, she said.
Carney evolved from baking for fun starting at age nine, to a hobby baker then to a competitive baker. She placed in the top three in 2010, 2012 and 2016 in the National Gingerbread House Competition in the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville. She first entered in 2008.
She was new to gingerbread artistry. She studied instructional videos on YouTube. Her first entry was a Disney-like Mississippi riverboat. She got more intricate such as with two-feet-tall gingerbread people wearing hats and aprons, a snowman band playing their instruments and a cute giraffe reading books as a mouse looks on. It took her as many as 400 hours per creation.
Carney received nationwide attention in 2017 when she was among bakers profiled as “Gingerbread Giants” on the Food Network.
She baked cakes, pies, pastries and cookies for many years. Carney now bakes for a Fresh Market in Asheville.
She retired last year after working for more than 40 years in human services. Her specialty was helping people overcome developmental or intellectual disabilities. She started working last year as a program specialist at Hind’s Feet Farm, helping holistically treat people with brain injuries.