In her circle of family and friends, Julia Perugini is well-known for the colorful and whimsical sugar cookies she bakes and decorates in her home kitchen.
Now, the Maricopa mom is testing her baking skills on a national level as a competitor on Food Network’s “Holiday Baking Championship,” hoping to take home the title of Holiday Baking Champion and $25,000.
Season 5 of the baking competition debuts Monday night, Nov. 5, on Food Network.
Baking under pressure
Competing on national television might intimidate some home bakers, but Perugini felt “more excited than nervous.”
“It is a lot of pressure,” Perugini told The Republic. “But I was so happy to be there.”
The show features eight amateur bakers competing in a series of baking challenges in front of judges Duff Goldman (“Kids Baking Championship”), Nancy Fuller (“Farmhouse Rules”) and Lorraine Pascale (“Lorraine’s Fast, Fresh and Easy Food”).
Former NFL quarterback Jesse Palmer hosts the show, which airs Mondays.
It’s not the first time the self-taught baker and mother of a toddler has showcased her skills on Food Network. In 2017, she competed on “Christmas Cookie Challenge.”
Although she wasn’t named top baker on that competition, the experience prepared her for the rigors of baking on national television.
Engineer turned baker
The Brazilian native, 35, has been baking since she was a child.
“When I was growing up in Brazil, we always made everything at home. It’s just something you do with your grandma and your mom,” Perugini said.
Although she studied mechanical engineering in college, she eventually realized she wanted to pursue baking full time. “I just really wanted to start my own business.”
With her design background, Perugini is able to fashion custom designs for her online business, Julia’s Cookies, which ships orders around the country.
Although cookies are her specialty, Perugini also bakes cakes and cupcakes.
Perugini is not allowed to reveal how far she makes it, but she shared that the highlight of being on the show was getting to know her fellow contestants.
“I really think we will be friends forever,” Perugini said.
“It was such a good group this year. I think it’s going to be a pleasure for everybody to watch.”
Details: “Holiday Baking Championship” premieres at 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, on Food Network. Check local listings. Foodnetwork.com/holidaybakingchampionship.
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