Food Network competitor has ties to east central Alberta

Tracy Irwin of Penhold’s Sugar by Tracy creates a Christmas elf named ‘Jinx’ for a massive cake during Food Network Canada’s Big Bake Holiday Champions episode. The ‘Jinxed Workshop’ was a cake with multiple moving parts like a real flamethrower, moving chocolate gears, flashing lights and more. Team Sweet Badlands won $10,000 for their creation made in five hours. ECA Review/Submitted

With only five hours on the clock and $10,000 on the line, making the most dynamic cake would seal Team Sweet Badlands’ fate as the winners.

For the Food Network Canada Big Bake Holiday Champions, Tracy Irwin of Sugar by Tracy based in Penhold, Alta. claimed sweet victory after her and her two teammates were able to pull off the most elaborate cake they have ever created.

“It was fun to compete against some crazy amazing talented cake decorators from worldwide in the industry,” began Irwin. “There is not a lot of people around central Alberta or even Alberta who create cakes to the kind of cakes that I do.”

Irwin, daughter of Heidi Miller and granddaughter of Evelyn Stoltz, of Coronation, was invited to participate in the competition “The Big Bake Holiday” in Toronto in July.

The episode originally aired on Nov. 25, 2019. This was the second invite Irwin has been personally invited to by the Food Network for her outspoken yet loveable personality on Instagram.

“I’m very authentically me on social media,” laughed Irwin.

Last year she was honoured to be chosen to compete in the Food Network US with the “Winner Cakes All” and came in second while the episode was filmed in Los Angeles.

This time around, Irwin knew exactly who she wanted on her team.

She asked two friends, also from Alberta, to join her including Bo Hons of Wolf Bay Cafe in Calgary and Darci Wheil of Kakebydarci in Canmore.

From there, Team Sweet Badlands was born.

The ‘Jinxed Workshop’ was a cake with multiple moving parts like a real flamethrower, moving chocolate gears, flashing lights and more. Team Sweet Badlands won $10,000 for their creation made in five hours. ECA Review/Submitted

The cake itself was a daunting task for the trio but they persevered.

What normally would have taken 20 to 25 hours had been reduced to five for the competition.

“It’s finished and not perfect thing when you are doing the competition,” said Irwin. “We just got to get it done so our actual work isn’t always as clean or perfect as it would be coming out of our kitchen here obviously.

“It had to be done fast so we had to sacrifice our clean, finessed, detailed work. We sacrifice a little bit of that when we are doing competitions just because of the time,” she said

The flavour was a delicious Christmas sangria cake – an orange cake with an orange raspberry curd with red wine mulled spice buttercream.

The theme of the cake was a “Jinxed Workshop” where everything was going wrong.

‘Jinx the Elf’ had broken the toy machine.

There were bubbles going, lights flashing and most importantly there was a flamethrower coming from the centre of the cake shaped like a toy machine.

Attached to the cake were also working chocolate gears.

Hons was instrumental in adding the fire element by simply creating a remote flame built out of a Bic lighter and a travel-sized hair spray can.

“When we were designing the cake we were trying to easily incorporate a lot of different moving parts and different things so for us to make our cake to be this massive toy machine it was really easy for us to then incorporate a whole bunch of different stuff with it,” said Irwin.

Team Sweet Badlands won first over the other two teams and were presented with the prize of $10,000.

It was split evenly amongst themselves.

Watch the complete show online with the Food Network “Big Bake Holiday” Season 1 Episode 8 to catch the entire exciting competition.

Since the episode aired, Irwin is happy to report her business has been given an extra boost.

“It has definitely given us a little validation and more of a reputation is there now. People pay a little bit more attention to what we are doing and notice us more.

“There is not a lot of people who make it on to the food network, let alone win. It’s been two months and I’m still thinking ‘Wow’. I got super speechless of like shock and awe about it. It’s cool.”


Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.


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