Dining With Denise Neil

Wichita baker will be on Food Network’s ‘Christmas Cookie Challenge’

A Wichita cookie baker whose elaborate, artistic sugar cookies have helped her new business boom will appear on an episode of Food Network’s “Christmas Cookie Challenge.”

The episode, which will feature Andrea Walters of Andy Kay’s Cookies, will air at 9 p.m. on Nov. 20.

The seven-episode series, which features Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond as head judge, premiered on Monday. It pits talented cookie bakers against each other, and they have to prove their skills through a two-round baking competition. The winner gets a $10,000 prize.

Walters, a local mom of two elementary school daughters who runs her bakery out of her home, said she could not reveal any details of what happened during filming, which happened in August in New Orleans. She started her bakery, Andy Kay’s Cookies, three years ago after teaching herself how to create elaborate treats.

“I had several of my friends and a couple of neighbors who kept sending me the link to apply for the show,” she said. “I did it just to shut them up, but the next thing I know, I had a producer calling me.’”

Walters was interviewed via Skype in July, and producers invited her to be on the show. Filming was intense, she said, and involved two rounds of timed baking.

“It was all Christmas cookies, and we didn’t know what kind. We didn’t know any specifics going into it and had to be prepared for anything,” she said. “For a month leading up to it, I was perfecting all kinds of recipes.”

Though she’s had to keep her appearance a secret until now, Walters said she learned a lot during the process, and she’s improved her baking abilities. Her beautiful cookies are so popular, she’s often booked with orders weeks into the future.

“They’re not typical sugar cookies,” she said of her creations. “I always tell people I finally found my canvas.”

Related stories from Wichita Eagle