Halloween Cookie Challenge: Meet the Competitors

Get to know the talented cookie masters competing to take home a trick-or-treat bag filled with $10,000.

Photo By: Betty Weiner

Photo By: Betty Weiner

Photo By: Betty Weiner

Photo By: Betty Weiner

Photo By: Betty Weiner

Photo By: Sean Rosenthal

Photo By: Sean Rosenthal

Photo By: Sean Rosenthal

Photo By: Sean Rosenthal

Photo By: Betty Weiner

Photo By: Sean Rosenthal

Photo By: Sean Rosenthal

Photo By: Sean Rosenthal

Photo By: Sean Rosenthal

Photo By: Sean Rosenthal

Justine Banks — Provo, UT

Justine is a home bakery owner from Utah. In the beginning stages of her business, she made cookies just for parties. However, after her cookies spread through word-of-mouth, she began making cookies for celebrities in Salt Lake City as well. When Justine is not baking, she is taking care of and spending time with her three little kids.

Minh Bingham — Rochester Hills, MI

Minh is a home baker from Michigan. She works in aerospace and defense and is obsessed with Halloween, because she loves scary people! She started baking when she was a little girl, but Minh took up cookie decorating, because she wanted to do something special for her daughter when she was born. For Halloween, Minh likes making very realistic scary cookies. In fact, she has made cookies frightening enough to make her throw them away.

Stephen Horner — Los Angeles

Stephen is a home baker from California, but when he’s not making cookies, he is an art assistant in the film and talent industry. He is known for painting on his cookies and doing unconventional designs. When people look at his cookies, Stephen wants them to see an array of different techniques and styles.

Kyra Wright — Portland

Kyra is a custom cookie maker from Oregon. The artistic skills she gained from studying and working as a makeup artist translated very naturally into her cookie decorating. Typically, her cookies are cute and wholesome, but that doesn’t stop her from making scary and gruesome Halloween cookies.

Episode 5: Janae Barcus — Augusta, GA

Janae is a home bakery owner from Georgia. Her cookies have been sold everywhere from Alabama to Hawaii, and she claims her cookie style is so distinct that her customers can spot them from a mile away. In her cookie designs, she often brings inanimate objects to life by adding cute and fun details, like googly eyes. Before becoming a cookie artist, she was an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Air Force, which has contributed to her competitiveness and determination to win this cookie challenge.

Episode 5: Cheryl Henderson — Northeast Ohio

Cheryl is a cookie artist and home bakery owner from Ohio. She claims to have made a name for herself in the cookie world with people recognizing her at CookieCon, a famous cookie art convention. Cheryl loves Halloween so much that she plans her costume months in advance. She likes to describe herself as weird and a bit cooky, and her favorite part of Halloween is going wild with the imagination of her cookies.

Episode 5: Allan Hursig — Houston

Allan is a bakery owner from Texas. After being laid off from his job in oil and gas, he kept his mind and hands busy by turning to baking and cooking. Then, he decided to try decorating cookies, which really worked out for him. He is doing this competition for his supportive family and hopes to win for them.

Episode 5: Emily Solomos — Long Island, NY

Emily is a home bakery owner from New York. She runs a custom cookie business and is currently packed with orders up to eight months in advance. Emily thrives the most in making cookies for bridal showers, baby showers and weddings, but she also enjoys making Halloween cookies!

Episode 4: Ben Castillo — Modesto, CA

Ben is a baker and head decorator from California. After going through a tragic accident and losing his leg, he developed a love for baking as both a means of creativity and as therapy to help keep his mind off things. Making Halloween cookies gives him the freedom to make something crazy and out-of-the-ordinary, and he especially loves showing his hand-painting cookie techniques. One day, he hopes to open up his own bakery.

Episode 4: Mik Nuzzi — San Diego

Mik is a bakery owner from California, but one can also call her the “kitchen witch.” Although she doesn’t have a cauldron, she considers her baking sheet, mixer and all other baking supplies as her magical witch items. Mik loves baking during the fall, making anything from scary to whimsical – but all with a hint of nostalgia. She would love to win the Halloween Cookie Challenge, because she is especially known for her Halloween creations and a win would be the ultimate Halloween cookie memory.

Episode 4: Danielle Poage — Dallas

Danielle is a bakery owner from Texas. She calls herself the “Halloween cookie queen,” because Halloween is her favorite holiday, and she loves everything about cookies. When she quit her pastry chef job, she went on to making cookies full-time at home. Her cookie designs are a mix of scary and elegant, and her Halloween cookies greatly reflect her style, using many bold and moody colors.

Episode 4: Tinnell Sloan — Houston

Tinnell is a bakery owner from Texas. In her cookie decorations, she is all about sparkles. So, in other words: the more glitter, the better! Her strategy going into this competition is to do as much color as possible to make her cookies pop out. One of her biggest inspirations for competing is her two kids, and she hopes to win for them.

Episode 3: Elizabeth Burns — Chandler, AZ

Elizabeth is a home bakery owner from Arizona. She was previously a chemist and now applies that chemistry knowledge when baking her cookies to perfection. She definitely considers herself to be a science nerd, but after her daughter was born, she took a cookie-decorating class and fell in love with it. Elizabeth especially loves making different textures on her cookies with royal icing, and being in the Halloween Cookie Challenge is like living her cookie dream. Now, her next dream is to win.

Episode 3: Pete Hutchinson — Tampa

Pete is an audiologist from Florida but is also known as “Petey Cake,” because when he’s not at work testing people’s hearing, he is at home making cookies for the stars. He loves everything about pop culture and has made cookies for big celebrities like Celine Dion, Elton John, Lizzo, and more. He is still waiting for his chance to make cookies for Beyonc, but in his head, Beyonc is just waiting for him to win the Halloween Cookie Challenge and show that he is the best of the best!

Episode 3: Christina Ramsey — Hayden, ID

Christina is a home baker from Idaho. When previously living in California, she started a custom cookie business, and in seven years, she has made around 40,000 cookies. After moving to Idaho to be closer to family, she continued to make cookies — but now, for fun! The cookies she makes are a reflection of her happy personality. She does not do gross and gory, only cute and fun Halloween cookies.

Episode 3: Salma Tariq — Sugar Land, TX

Salma is a home bakery owner from Texas. Although she has never made a scary cookie in her life, she is ready to scare the socks off of the judges! She loves making realistic-style cookies, using a lot of shading and textures in her designs. When she’s not making cookies, she is with her two little daughters who love her baking. She hopes to win for them, so they can be proud of their own mom.

Episode 2: Lisa Altfest — San Diego

Lisa Altfest is a bakery owner from California and is known for her gluten-free cookies. She went to confectionery art school and pastry school, and so, her cookies both taste and look good.

Episode 2: Brian Muffoletto — Buffalo, NY

Brian is a cookie artist from New York, whose fun and bubbly personality is often portrayed in his cookie-decorating style. He is also a second grade teacher and is here to compete for his students, who are his biggest cheerleaders.

Episode 2: Bryoni Prentice — New Orleans

Bryoni is a home baker from New Orleans. She is an amazing cookie artist known for her hard-to-beat flavors! Next to Mardi Gras, Halloween is big in New Orleans, so when it comes to Halloween cookies, she is an expert.

Episode 2: Lauren Ravan — Lyman, South Carolina

Lauren is a social media influencer and custom cookie artist from South Carolina. She loves all things Halloween, but instead of turning to scary and gore, she uses cute and whimsy styles in her Halloween designs.

Episode 1: Arlene Chua — Staten Island

Arlene is a bakery owner and cookie decorating teacher from New York, and she loves Halloween cookies, especially those that are very glamorous and elegant. Throughout her baking career, she has competed in about a dozen different cookie conventions but has never won – so, she is fighting to win this competition!

Episode 1: Rebecca Dugger — Louisiana

Rebecca is a home bakery owner, who gets a lot of her design inspiration from comic books and pop art. Her birthday, wedding anniversary and Halloween all fall on the same week, so Halloween is one of her favorite holidays.

Episode 1: Kim Fink — Altadena, CA

Kim is a home bakery owner from California. One unique design she does with her cookies is painted portraits, specifically of pets – but all in all, turning scary or cute things into edible desserts is her jam!

Episode 1: Joshua Juarez — Austin

Joshua is a trained pastry chef and owns a dog bakery in Texas. As much as he enjoys baking delicious goods for dogs, he also loves making cookies for people and hopes to open a bakery for them too.