Meet the Competitors of Holiday Baking Championship, Season 9

Get to know the twelve bakers competing for a chance to win $25,000 and the title of Holiday Baking Champion.

Photo By: Rob Pryce

Photo By: Rob Pryce

Photo By: Rob Pryce

Photo By: Rob Pryce

Photo By: Rob Pryce

Photo By: Rob Pryce

Photo By: Rob Pryce

Photo By: Rob Pryce

A Fresh Batch of Holiday Bakers

Learn more about the fresh faces competing in the ultimate holiday competition.

Aaron Davis — Surprise, AZ

Aaron is a cake decorator from Arizona. He began baking at four years old, and after high school, he received a scholarship to attend the school of his dreams, The Culinary Institute of America. Now, he’s been baking professionally for six years. Aaron wants to win this competition, because it would be a great boost of confidence for him in his career, and he wants to make his younger self proud.

Christine Herelle-Lewis — New York

Christine is a French pastry chef originally from the suburbs of Paris and is now living in New York. She previously worked an office job, but when she hit 40 years old, she decided to follow her passion and attend a pastry school in Paris. Now, she has worked as a professional pastry chef for 10 years. She hopes to win this competition for herself and her family and wants to use the prize money to help build her own professional kitchen.

Antoine Hopkins — Philadelphia

Antoine is a pastry chef from Pennsylvania. He loves the holidays, because it is a cheerful time for him and his kids. As a single dad, his kids have witnessed his entire baking career from being in culinary school to now being a part of the Holiday Baking Championship. He wants to win the competition to make his kids proud and to show them that they can achieve their dreams.

RaChelle Hubsmith — Salt Lake City

RaChelle is a home baker and real estate appraiser from Utah, and she is also a wife and a mother of three kids. Although she is self-taught in baking, she has won awards all across the country for both her recipes and intricate designs. The next award on her list is the title of Holiday Baking Champion!

Bill Makin — Brooklyn

Bill is a home baker and realtor from New York. He got into baking seriously when he was in college, and he loves decorating cakes. Aside from baking, he is also a classically trained violinist and has played in several orchestras. For Bill, the holiday season is a very important time of the year, because he loves to make and give out baked goods for Christmas.

Aishia Martinez — Union City, NJ

Aishia is an executive pastry chef from New Jersey, and she loves to incorporate a lot of Puerto Rican flavors in her baking. If she wins, she wants to use the prize money to open up a beautiful Latin bakery that will honor the delicious flavors and recipes from her culture.

Harshal Naik — Bedford, PA

Harshal is a pastry chef in Pennsylvania. For 12 years, he worked as a pastry chef in a cruise line, where he met his wife. Working on a cruise ship helped him learn how to make different types of dessert from all over the world. Coming from a small town in India, it means a lot for him to compete in Holiday Baking Championship.

Zakiya Newton — Gotha, FL

Zakiya is a professionally trained pastry chef and runs a baking business from her home in Florida. She attended the Culinary Institute of America with a degree in baking and pastry arts management and has 10 years of experience in the industry. Zakiya is married and has two boys, and she loves spending time with them during the holidays. She hopes to win the competition to help grow her baking business.

Sumera Syed — Dallas

Sumera is a home baker and entrepreneur in Texas, but she moved there from London. She is a jack of all trades, having careers as a singer in a heavy metal band, owning a private investigator license and being an ordained minister. However, her all-time favorite thing to do is holiday baking. Sumera wants to win this competition, because she loves the holiday spirit and also wants the bragging rights!

Dru Tevis — Rehoboth Beach, DE

Dru is a corporate pastry chef from Delaware. He oversees the dessert programs in 16 restaurants, and he wants to win this competition, because he wants to prove to himself that he can do everything and has the whole package. He has a husband and two dogs back at home, and they enjoy spending the holidays together.

Jessica Wang — Los Angeles

Jessica is a pastry food stylist from California. She recently graduated with degrees in food business and management, as well as baking and pastry. As a pastry food stylist, she acts as the designer behind foods that go on camera, but the decorating part of desserts is what she enjoys the most. Although she is the youngest competitor, don’t underestimate her, because she is highly competitive and is there to win!

Kristen Weidlein — Staten Island

Kristen is an executive pastry chef from New York. She loves the holiday season, because it brings her so much joy, and she always gets into the holiday spirit. In the past, Kristen has worked in a 2-star Michelin restaurant, chocolate shops and bakeries, and she hopes these experiences will give her an advantage in the competition.