It’s official — New Braunfels is home to some of the best Christmas cookies in the nation.
Co-owner of 2Tarts Bakery Ashley Landerman won the Food Network “Christmas Cookie Challenge,” securing a $10,000 cash prize with her tasty edible art. Landerman, a native New Braunfelser, said she is so humbled to bring the win home to the city of unicorns.
“I’m just really excited to represent New Braunfels on a national stage,” Landerman said. “The whole experience was amazing.”
The Food Network series started in 2017, with Landerman being the winner on the season 3 premiere — the 15th winner in the show’s history overall.
“They flew me out to Los Angeles, all expenses paid, and put me up in a hotel with the other four contestants I was competing against,” Landerman said. “They carted us around together the whole time so I got to get to know them and they were all really such amazing people.”
Landerman said the application process was long and complex, but she was so excited when she got the call she’d made it onto the show.
“They don’t mess around, it’s a big investment, so they want to make sure, ‘Can you handle this, can you talk on camera while working?’ That kind of thing,’” Landerman said. “So that was awesome.”
Scouts actually sought her out, which Landerman said was humbling in itself.
Although she was nervous and excited for the competition, Landerman said she thinks it was her planning that was able to get her ahead.
“I’m a planner, so I was going through our recipes in my head and I was able to use the recipes we use at the bakery,” Landerman said. “The one we use everyday — our sugar cookie recipe — is the same one I used in the first round. I was going through the steps to make sure I was ready, step 1, step 2, and it really helped me manage my anxiety of it.”
April Weilbacher, co-owner of 2Tarts Bakery and Ashley’s sister said she is very proud of her “fellow tart.”
“I think her win on behalf of 2Tarts is so amazing,” Weilbacher said. “We have worked so hard to build a company that can support 25 employees and supports other mothers that work for us and helped them have a career they can thrive in and that makes me so happy. To win this for the bakery, it validates all the hard work we’ve put in.”
Weilbacher said she saw how hard her sister worked and prepared for the show, and she was so excited for Ashley’s win.
“I think her prepping and due diligence beforehand meant she could focus on time and speed when she got to the competition and when other people were trying out things for the first time and I think she really shined,” Weilbacher said. “She put so much work into preparing and spent weeks testing out her cookie designs.”
In round two of the show, Landerman had to put together a Christmas cookie wreath — something she said she practiced and has actually done before for special events such as weddings.
“I was super humbled to have these famous chefs love my stuff,” Landerman said. “I was trying to keep it good and do it efficiently, so I did my design more simple — I was going for, ‘What does a real garland look like?’ Full.”
Landerman, who received her culinary training in Ireland, said she was so thrilled to have the approval of the judges.
“They were so sweet — I was super humbled to have these famous chefs love my stuff,” Landerman said.
The competitors are all amazing bakers who, Landerman said, she is glad to now be friends with.
“They’re all incredible, if you look on their Instagrams they all have tons of followers, and that’s all they do is cookies,” Landerman said. “Whereas cookies are my favorite I do a little of everything, so definitely I was unsure of how I’d come out and they were so supportive.”
Landerman said she wanted to thank her amazing 2Tarts staff and her sister for holding down the fort while she went away for four days to live her dream.
“I couldn’t have done it without all our amazing tarts over here,” Landerman said.
Landerman plans to use the winnings toward regular bills and also toward a car restoration project she and her husband are working on.
“We have a Volkswagen we want to restore,” Landerman said smiling.
For more information about 2Tarts, visit https://www.2tarts.com or call (830) 387-4606. 2Tarts is located at 139 N. Castell Ave. Suite 300.