Baking

Michigan mom competes in Food Network’s Halloween Baking Championship

As well as baker, artist, dishwasher, aspiring comedian and self-proclaimed hopeless designer, Owosso resident Jill Davis can now also describe herself as a Food Network contestant. .

The mother-of-two and owner of home bakery Drizzle Cakes and Bakes will premiere on season eight of The Food Network’s Halloween Baking Championship at 9 p.m. Monday.

Davis is competing with 11 bakers “to survive their thrilling stay at the Henson Hotel” to win $25,000, according to the Food Network’s website.

“My anxiety is very high,” Davis laughed in a phone call Wednesday.

The show has been pre-recorded and episodes will air throughout September. The episodes are split into a “thriller” section which is more of a flavor-focused challenge, and then there’s a “killer” part which is larger in scale. If you win, you stay, but otherwise you could be knocked out and go home, Davis said.

Owosso's Jill Davis competes in the Food Network's Halloween Baking Championship, premiering September 12, 2022.

She couldn’t say what she did or how she did it, but Davis said that for the first episode, the contestants had to make a pie look like a forest and the second part was a splatter cake of blood.

“And I will participate in at least those two challenges because it’s the first episode,” she laughed.

She’s not sure how she came to the Food Network’s attention, but thinks reps stumbled across her Facebook page. She got a call earlier this year saying they were casting for the show if she would like the opportunity to talk to them. After a long series of calls and interviews on Zoom, Davis was informed days before the shooting that she was there, she said.

Julie Chudow, public relations manager for Food Network, did not respond to emails with questions about the show.

Davis had fierce competition, with applicants from all over the United States ranging from a James Beard Award nominee to incredibly talented performers, she said.

“Being surrounded by so much talent from such a wide spectrum is like, ‘What am I doing here?'” she said. “So it was crazy, but the actors really clicked with each other.”

One of the culinary creations of Owosso resident Jill Davis.  Davis is participating in the Food Network's Halloween Baking Championship, which will premiere on September 12, 2022.

Davis attended culinary school and Central Michigan University. Her first job as a professional baker was at Breadcrumbs in East Lansing around 2009, where she took her roots. She also remained involved in the Lansing community, participating in events like Block-Aid and Rosé All Day.

But she started cooking when she was a teenager at Yale. His mother, Lorinda Driscoll, who retired as managing director of the Times Herald in 2015 after 37 years in the industry, was his first teacher.

Her mother baked all their birthday cakes, which Davis thought was cool, and as a child she was involved in 4-H. Over the years, a hobby turned into a passion and then a career, Davis said.

“When I first learned of it and really got into it, I knew deep in my heart that this was what I wanted to do,” she said.

Her favorite thing about baking is focusing her attention on the details, making the food tell a story. As a mother she tells stories to her children so it’s “rooted in her soul” and when someone gets married or celebrates their birthday it’s a story and their cake should reflect that in its decorations and its details, she said.

One of the culinary creations of Owosso resident Jill Davis.  Davis is participating in the Food Network's Halloween Baking Championship, which will premiere on September 12, 2022.

Davis’ first son was born in February 2019 and she officially started Drizzle Cakes and Bakes at the Owosso Farmer’s Market in August 2019. Her second son was celebrating his first birthday this month. Davis calls herself a “stay-at-home mom” because the kids go to daycare twice a week, but she’s with them most of the time.

She helps her children become the people she wants them to be while helping her business become what she wants it to be, she said.

“The balance is there but it’s precarious,” she said.

Her husband, Carl Davis, praises his wife, whom he describes as the most talented person he has ever met.

“The only thing she excels at besides being a talented artist is being a mom,” he said in an email.

He said the Food Network experience was fantastic and extremely exciting. They are eagerly awaiting the release of the series and are planning a little watch party for the first episode with their family and friends.

Owosso's Jill Davis competes in the Food Network's Halloween Baking Championship, premiering September 12, 2022.

Jill Davis said watching the show on Monday was going to be surreal because it all happened so fast.

The actors collectively agreed during the first baking that they had all forgotten anything about baking. They were in this huge, weird kitchen, it was chaos, it wasn’t their equipment, and it was like “what’s cooking?” I don’t know why I’m here anymore, help me,” she said with a laugh.

“Honestly, I’m just excited to see what everyone did because the cast is so ridiculously talented,” she said.

Going on the show was a confidence boost, she said. Although she changed her career path from full-time baking and baking to full-time mom, she still has it.

“Getting this experience definitely showed me that I’m still worth it,” she said. “Even though I’m mostly focused on my kids these days, I can still do cool things.”

Contact Bryce Airgood at 517-267-0448 or bairgood@lsj.com. Follow her on Twitter @bairgood123.