Anna Simeonides found her way into the kitchen and behind a mixing bowl after her little brother developed severe food allergies, and she set out to bake him treats that he could safely enjoy. Today, at 23 years old, Anna finds herself the owner of “To Your Health Bakery,” in Winston-Salem, NC, specializing in baked goods catering to those with food allergies. “We are 100% gluten-free with vegan, paleo, and keto options. While I had many food service jobs through high school, I am completely self-taught as a baker,” said Anna. Recently, Anna found her “sweet” spot in life when she competed in Hallmark Drama’s Christmas Cookie Matchup.
Every Hallmark Lover’s Wish Come True
Like most living and breathing women, Anna is a huge Hallmark fan, especially during the holiday season, enjoying all of their “Countdown to Christmas” specials. But to participate in a holiday event like a cookie competition brought Anna’s Hallmark dreams to life.
“It was through social media, namely, Facebook, that I learned about the Hallmark Drama’s Christmas Cookie Matchup, the first ever! On a whim, I felt compelled to enter, so I filled out an application and submitted a 7-minute video in which I sang carols about baking and discussed my extensive Christmas sweater collection and extreme love for the holidays, all while singing praises to my favorite Hallmark movies. Apparently, there were over 1600 applicants for the show! I was truly floored and beyond thrilled when I made the cut…it was a total gift from God,” commented Anna.
Anna’s baking adventure took her to Los Angeles, CA, this past July for a week. “Since we filmed the five-episode show in July, I have been in the Christmas spirit for several months. It was really top-notch, and I was so fortunate to be a part of it. The most notable part of this experience was that we were paired with celebrity assistants from Hallmark Channel’s #1 show, When Calls the Heart. It was a total surprise and ridiculously fun getting to know and work with our actors. For many of them, it was a crash course in the kitchen. They were all so dedicated to helping us, as $25,000 was on the line for the grand prize. I was paired with Kevin McGarry, and he was absolutely phenomenal to work with. Our personalities clicked really well and he brought so much fun and levity to an intense competition! Our host was Jack Wagner from When Calls the Heart and our judges were Emily Hutchison, a renowned cookie decorator and author, and Chadwick Boyd, a food and lifestyle blogger,” Anna stated. The great experience continued throughout the competition.
“Every single person who worked on this show was so personable and incredible, from the producers and directors to the glam team and film crew. They truly carried a spirit of Hallmark. Even the competitors themselves all became friends and we still keep in touch! The kitchen on the set was stunning and simply a baker’s dream. I wish I had a month just to work my way through all of the ingredients and supplies that were at my fingertips. All that said, everyone walked away from this competition having made invaluable, lasting friendships and incredible memories,” said Anna.
As far as who wins is concerned, or how the “cookie crumbles” in the end, you’ll have to tune in, beginning November 13th, 2019, at 9 pm on Hallmark Drama Channel through December 17th, 2019, to watch!