TYLER, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas baker can check "make Christmas cookies in front of millions of viewers" off his bucket list after Monday night.
Dylan Humphrey, 23, owner of Kool Kakes by Dylan in Tyler, appeared on and won Food Network's Christmas Cookie Challenge on Monday night. The offer to audition for the show was a challenge for Humphrey in that he specializes in creative cakes that are works of art, but not necessarily in cookies.
MOBILE USERS: Click here for slideshow of Dylan's amazing cakes
"When the producer called me, he knew me from the Cake Wars show I had been on, and asked me if I would like to audition for the cookie competition show," Dylan said. "I told him I really do cakes, not cookies."
The producer was persistent, though.
"He said 'we'll send you a list of the cookies you need to be familiar with; you'll be fine' so I agreed. I got a list of something like 40 different cookies! Some of them I'd never heard of and couldn't pronounce," he laughed.
Dylan said the audition went well and they invited him to the filming, which took place in July in New Orleans.
"New Orleans in July was hot, and there we were trying to get excited about decorating Christmas cookies," he recalled. "But they did a such a great job making the studio feel like Christmas. Once we were in there, it wasn't hard to get into the spirit."
Dylan said that the Christmas Cookie Challenge experience was a bit less intense than his experience on Cake Wars.
"Cake Wars was fun, but it was very intense. They kept us secluded from each other, so we didn't get to know each other ahead of time," he said. "But on the Christmas show, we got to hang out together, get to know each other's families. They encouraged our friendship."
One of the judges for the Christmas Cookie Challenge was Ree Drummond, also known as the Pioneer Woman on Food Network.
"Ree was so amazing to talk to. All the judges were encouraging during the competition, and we got to talk with them for about 15 minutes when we were finished, which was great," he said.
Dylan said that there were a few moments of drama while filming the baking competition, and that it will be a fun episode for viewers to watch.
He especially hopes to encourage young adults like himself to accept challenges and follow their dreams, as he is doing.
"I really believe that if there is something you want to do, just go do it. Take every opportunity that comes your way, and go for it. You never know if you don't try, which I know sounds cliche, but it is true," he said. "There will always be critics, like when I started doing cakes. At the time it wasn't a cool thing for a guy to do. And now it is! So don't let people discourage you."
Dylan is a graduate of Whitehouse High School and Tyler Junior College. He is owner of Kool Kakes by Dylan on Troup Highway in Tyler.