WASHINGTON Douglas Phillips, a native of the Mid-Ohio Valley and now teacher at North Shore community college in Massachusetts, is the newly crowned champion of the Food Network Show ‘Holiday Baking Championship’. But his journey to the television competition almost didn’t happen.
“I got a call from a restaurant that I use to work at that someone from the Food Network was looking for me to do a baking show and I almost didn’t call them back because it’s not something I’ve ever done before or really ever considered doing. But I guess my wife was like ‘what do you have to lose?’ and so I went for it,” recalls Phillips.
And his passion for pastries all started just down the road.
“My first job when I was 15, I was a short order cook at Napoli’s. That’s where it started…I wanted to do something a little more artistic, something a little bit nicer… So I found a job at The Village Cakery in Barlow. Cindy Mallahan and her husband Alan making cakes out of her house and they were awesome! They were beautiful. And I was on board totally. So at 16 I started working with them," he explains.
Phillips began spending more time at the bakery than he spent at school. After graduation from Warren High School, Phillips got a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. After that, his inevitable success followed.
He tells us he is still in shock after winning the Championship title and the $25,000 grand prize.
“When they called my name, I really couldn’t believe it. I know that the other two competitors were very very talented…I’m still reeling from that announcement."
Phillips goes on to encourage others to chase their dreams too.
“When I was growing up, Food Network was part of a formative culture. If you want to be a cook, they were kind of really pushing it. It’s when it got really popular and everyone was like ‘Oh, we’re going to see you on the Food Network someday, aren’t we?’ and I was always like ‘No, no no. I don’t know about that. That’s for people from other areas.’ …To be on it was really surreal. I know that the people there are watching it and are like ‘Wow, he’s from here. He came from here! That’s really cool.’ And I guess, not to sound corny but, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, you can certainly make your own path,” explains Phillips.
“To the folks in the Mid-Ohio Valley, I’m just so thankful for the support…The excitement from the area was really really cool and I’m just so glad they were all rooting for me. That was really exciting.”