Skippack Baker Honed Her Spicy Background on Food Network’s Holiday Gingerbread Showdown
It’s that time of year. Sweets, comfort food, and plenty of baking. Germantown Academy alumna and cookie art guru Stephanie White Kappel knows plenty about the latter. Her baking skills with this Christmas cookie staple were honed on a 2018 episode of Food Network’s ultra-competitive Holiday Gingerbread Showdown.
“I can’t say much aside from it was an amazing experience and so much fun,” said Kappel, who was approached by a casting company who took note of the popular gingerbread house class she offers on Bluprint. Kappel also owns The Hungry Hippoptamus, a Delaware County cookie art company that she launched in 2009.
The Holiday Gingerbread Showdown features three semifinal rounds and each round has three teams made up of one artist and one assistant. One team from each semifinal round will advance to the finale where they will compete for the grand prize of $25,000.
“I’m grateful I had the opportunity and am able to share my work on a national stage,” said Kappel.
Kappel’s journey to becoming a celebrity in the world of baking is an interesting one. After receiving her Germantown Academy diploma, she went on to study at Franklin & Marshall College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. She also minored in Theatrical Design and was the recipient of the Buchanan Scholarship for academics and community service at F&M.
Following college, she worked in a number of education, marketing, and recruiting positions.
So, how did she end up launching her own custom cookie company and competing before the nation on the Food Network?
“It’s kind of a long story, but every year for Christmas I make different handmade gifts,” said Kappel. “In 2009, soon after I got married, an issue of Parents Magazine showed up at my house. Clearly a gentle hint from a close family member … although no has owned up yet.
“Some recipes on the front cover caught my eye so I paged through the magazine and found a cookie decorating tutorial. That Christmas, I made my first hand-decorated cookies.
“Once my family had had a taste they were hooked, asking me to make cookies for all different occasions. Soon, friends of family members were asking about my cookies. And then friends of friends.
“As interest in my cookies started to gain momentum, I was finishing my MBA [at the University of Phoenix] and had just helped to launch a new start-up business. With my degree in hand and a few years work experience under my belt, I took the leap and left my nine to five job to start my own business, The Hungry Hippopotamus.”
Kappel, who grew up in Skippack, but then moved to Allentown, currently fulfills custom orders and teaches hands-on decorating classes all over the U.S. and abroad. She has taught at Cookie’sCool, Europe’s first cookie decorating event, and is a regular instructor at CookieCon, the premier American cookie decorating convention. Her work has been featured on 6abc Action News and in publications such as American Cake Decorating, Edible Artists Network, and Southern Living.
Her clients include the Walt Disney Company, Williams-Sonoma, and Nomadic Agency.
Kappel is also is a Bluprint/Craftsy instructor, contributing educator for SugarEd Productions Sugar Art School, and proud baker for Icing Smiles, a nonprofit organization that provides custom celebration cakes and other treats to families impacted by the critical illness of a child.
If this story inspires readers to try making gingerbread cookies for themselves, this video should help.
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in Dec. 2019; it has been updated for accuracy.
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