Kent State journalism alumna wins Food Network Christmas Cookie Challenge


Leslie Srodek-Johnson poses with cookie cakes. Srodek-Johnson won $10,000 on the Food Network Christmas Cookie Challenge. Courtesy of Leslie Srodek-Johnson.

Shelby Reeves Alumni Affairs reporter

Kent State alumna Leslie Srodek-Johnson was featured on one of Food Network’s Christmas Cookie Challenge cooking competitions. During what she said felt like a whirlwind, Srodek-Johnson beat out four other contestants and took home the $10,000 prize.

“It was pretty much the most stressful thing of my life,” Srodek-Johnson said.

Her main concern was letting down her family which has been in the baking business since 1961. Her grandparents started a bakery and she continued their legacy with recipes over 100 years old. With recipes that old, she hoped to impress the judges and also make her family proud.

After her win, President Todd Diacon sent Srodek-Johnson a handwritten letter of congratulations. She graduated in 2001 with a degree in journalism. She said the experience helped her get used to being on TV. 

“It made me more comfortable in front of the cameras,” Srodek-Johnson said. “I was still incredibly nervous.”

While at Kent State, working at TV2 gave Leslie the experience to know how to work with a microphone and understand how not to “look like a fool on TV.” She was also able to use her knowledge from TV2 to be able to understand some of the things going on behind the scenes and alert the crew if there was a problem.

Business boomed for her bakery, Stan’s Northfield Bakery, the week of the episode airing, but things have steadily been going back to normal. Srodek-Johnson encouraged people to look for local talent and give them a chance. 

“There are a lot of really crazy talented people who can be really close to home,” Srodek-Johnson said. “You could be surprised if you go and give them a shot.”

Contact Shelby Reeves at [email protected].