Jonny Manganello makes his baking dreams come true on Holiday Wars

Contestant Jonny Manganello, as seen on Holiday Wars, Season 2. Photo provided by Food Network
Contestant Jonny Manganello, as seen on Holiday Wars, Season 2. Photo provided by Food Network /

For Jonny Manganello competing on Holiday Wars is the perfect baking holiday gift.

Food Network fans are captivated by Holiday Wars and Jonny Manganello is ready to impress with his creative cake skills. While the Food Network show is super competitive and a possibly a tad stressful, the holiday baking competition does bring the merry and mischief to the kitchen.

While this season has a little different twist to the competition, the main premise remains the same. These baking teams must come together to create the most creative, expressive winter wonderland holiday displays.

As part of the Hashtag Elfies team, Jonny Manganello is ready to take on this Food Network Holiday Wars challenge. The owner of Jonny Cakes, based on West Hollywood, California, Jonny is a baker and a cake artist. Scrolling through his Instagram account will make you do a double take. To say that these cake creations are extraordinary is an understatement.

For Jonny, being on Holiday Wars is a dream come true. Instead of imagining himself in those Food Network kitchens, he is part of the festive baking competition. The self-taught baker has definitely received an early holiday present.

Recently, FoodSided had an opportunity to chat with Jonny about his Holiday Wars experience. While we do not know the season’s outcome, we can’t wait to see which visually stunning cakes will be presented in those Holiday Wars displays.

Since Jonny says that he was inspired to begin baking by watching Food Network, he was candid about his feelings about being on the show.

Jonny said, “Being on Holiday Wars was like walking into a childhood dream. I grew up watching Emeril, Martha Stewart, and other shows on the Food Network. I even pretended to be a Food Network host in my childhood kitchen. So being a part of the show was utterly wild. Little old me? On the TV? Amazing.”

While the experience might have been his dream come true, it wasn’t without a little caution. As one of the lesser experienced bakers, he was stepping into a serious competition.

Jonny said, “Being a baby baker on a television competition was sometimes scary, but I ultimately found it freeing. I didn’t have many guards up and I didn’t say no to anything because I was so eager to be part of the action. I really jumped in headfirst. Had I gone in with any more baking experience, I think I might have been overly cautious and would second guess myself.”

In some ways, that willingness to be bold is a good thing on a Food Network competition. The lack of fear can produce some good results.

Still, Holiday Wars is a team competition. Reflecting on the importance of teamwork, Jonny said, Teamwork is the most important thing. We really lived or died with our team. This experience was unique because I usually don’t have to answer to anyone. Learning to let go of my own ideas for the greater good of the team was tough but necessary.”

Since the competition is only part of his baking life, Jonny looks to stand out with his own creations. These creative cakes will not be found at the local bakery.

Jonny said, “I grew up in a household full of artists and funny people, so I’ve always been a little off. I want my cakes to be one of a kind–like nothing you can Google. Each cake I make reflects my own oddity.”

Whether you call it an oddity or just visually creative, these cakes make a statement. Just like Jonny himself makes a statement.

Although it is always difficult for a cake artist to pick a favorite cake, one cake stood out. Jonny mentioned, “I made a Cats cake based on the disturbing musical movie. People hated it. And I loved that about the cake. Make them feel something, you know?”

That idea of evoking an emotion is what every cake should be. While the cake artist has the creative vision, he is trying to bring some joy to people. Sometimes the combination of butter, sugar and flour is a thing of beauty.

As everyone watches and gawks at the amazing creations on Holiday Wars, there are a few things that the home baker can take away.

According to Jonny, he recommends to “work slow and steady. Cake baking and decorating is artful and also scientific. Let your cakes cool completely before decorating, spread the work out over a few days, and take time away from your work so you can see it with a new set of eyes. Baking and decorating should be fun and calming. Don’t rush the process. Unless you make it onto Holiday Wars. Then just work fast, there’s $25,000 on the line, girl!”

If you want to see more of Jonny, watch Holiday Wars on Food Network, Sundays at 8 p.m. ET.

Jonny Manganello is the owner of Jonny Cakes.

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What has been your favorite Holiday Wars cake this season?