Anh Phan, who was born and raised in Denver and is the owner of Decadent Dough, has decorated cookies for the likes of Dua Lipa, Demi Lavato, Travis Scott and Lizzo. Her notoriety with those stars helped her land a spot as a contestant on the Food Network's Christmas Cookie Challenge, set to air on Thursday, November 30, at 7 p.m. Mountain Time.
The episode, titled “Out-of-This-World Christmas,” has Phan and three other bakers competing for $10,000 and the coveted Golden Ornament. In the first round, they're asked to decorate cookies that reveal what Christmas is like on other planets. The three contestants that advance must craft festive rocket ships worthy of taking Santa to the stars while incorporating freeze-dried astronaut foods like corn, jalapeños, sweet potatoes and cranberries.
Phan, formerly a clothing designer with her own lingerie line, began her baking career in 2019 after feeling burned out and looking for a new creative outlet. "I was not a baker. Growing up, we never used the oven — the oven was storage," she says. "It's not in my blood or anything like that."
"Decorating and design brings me the most joy; it's therapeutic filling and icing the cookie. I zone out. The design process is really fun. I work with each client to come up with custom designs for their event and make it special," says Phan, who thinks her background in clothing helped set the foundation for cookie making. "There are a lot of similarities [to clothing design], from sketching to color palettes and the composition of how they fit together — would they look great together laid out?"
Her business is online, meaning all orders are custom. And Phan is a one-woman show: In addition to baking and decorating all the cookies by hand, she also runs her social media account, which is how a producer from the Food Network contacted her.
"It was a whirlwind. We never knew what was coming next, and they kept us on our toes, but it was really fun meeting the other bakers. You spend a lot of time with them and become close really quickly. Sharing the experience with other people who do what you do was really awesome," says Phan. "It was the most fun experience of my life."
When Phan isn't creating cookies for the likes of Santa or Dua Lipa, she's baking custom designs for customers celebrating engagements, weddings and baby showers, plus other special events along the way. But with her recent success, she's booked until mid-January.
Christmas Cookie Challenge, now in its seventh season on the Food Network, is hosted by Eddie Jackson and Ree Drummond. Information about Phan's episode and how to watch can be found at foodnetwork.com.