The sky’s the creative limit on Cooking Channel’s ‘Holiday Cookie Builds’


‘Holiday Cookie Builds’ – Baking outside the box

Brenda Nibley (left) and Alisha Nuttall in “Holiday Cookie Builds”

We often think of cookies as something baked in Grandma’s oven and consumed with milk, not a confection created with the help of a drone.

But that is exactly what Brenda Nibley and Alisha Nuttall do in “Holiday Cookie Builds.” Premiering Friday, Nov. 9, on Cooking Channel, the six-episode half hour series shows the two Utah bakers coming up with creative designs made from cookie dough for their clients, be it a life-size monitor lizard, a replica of a local Main Street, a five-foot-tall nutcracker or a scale model of Salt Lake City’s famous clock tower.

For this, Nibley needed aerial photos of the 256-foot-high structure’s upper reaches so she could be as architecturally accurate as possible with her design. And for that, she uses a drone.

“I fly the drone above it as if the piece of architecture or whatever I’m looking at is on the table below me and I’m working on it,” she explains. “And that helps me to really put things into perspective as far as what I’m building. That’s just a trick that I have. … Because when I’m on the ground taking pictures, the roof that I’m going to be making on a house that we’re making looks so much different when you’re actually above it and looking at it from that perspective. So it’s just kind of necessary. Everything that we would build would actually be pretty flat if it was a building.”

That build, which turns up later in the season, was a success, according to Nibley. But the project that gave them the most trouble appears in Friday’s premiere, in which they make a turkey.

“Without giving anything away, the turkey’s pretty bottom-heavy and on skinny little legs and there were some things that happened,” Nibley admits with a laugh. “… And that’s the thing. I mean, bad things happened, but we always are laughing through them because it was so outrageous. You can’t believe that you’re holding a turkey bottom in your hands and it all depends on whether or not you can keep it stable.

“We built a simple frame,” she continues, “and then … we actually used a little bit of foam in this one to give it sort of a solid base. But we layered lots and lots of teeny, tiny little cookies to be cookie feathers – turkey feathers – and that was really fun and a new challenge for all of us.

“And at first, I think we were looking at it going, ‘There’s no way this is going to work out.’ But as we just kept putting on the layers of things, it just turned out beautifully.”


George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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