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LIer Emily Solomos competes on Food Network's 'Christmas Cookie Challenge'

Emily Solomos of Mount Sinai on the set

Emily Solomos of Mount Sinai on the set of Food Network's "Christmas Cookie Challenge." Credit: Food Network/Dawn Hoffmann

Mount Sinai's Emily Solomos, whose Instagram account Em's Custom Cookies is a cornucopia of delectable designs and colors, competes Thursday on season 5 of Food Network's "Christmas Cookie Challenge."

"I was messaged by a casting agency" that saw the online photos of her baked goods, says the 24-year-old, who works in marketing at PipingRock Health Products in Ronkonkoma. "They were messaging me for a really long time," she says by phone from her parents’ home. "And I didn't answer because I thought that it was a scam."

Solomos relented "after maybe two or three weeks of constant DMs [direct messages]," and the casting agent "told me a little bit about the show" — in which hosts/judges Ree Drummond and Eddie Jackson during each episode pick a $10,000-prize winner among five bakers in two rounds — "and how she wants to set me up for an interview with the producers."

That led to a pair of Zoom remote videos — one introducing herself and her 2-year-old, part-time cookie business, "and then the second interview, where you have to actually make cookies to show the producers. I had to make two designs, three cookies each, and then I had to make a 3D cookie," meaning one that stands or is otherwise not in a traditionally flattened shape. In her episode, the bakers made life-size ugly Christmas sweaters.

In April, a week or two after being chosen, Solomos flew to Knoxville, Tennessee, for the shoot. "The whole process was super-last-minute and rushed, so that kind of adds to the stress of everything," she says. "But the whole experience was definitely life-changing, and I was grateful to be there and have that kind of opportunity. I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was eye-opening just to kind of know that I'm good enough to be there, and how much more capable I am than I ever thought."

Born in Smithtown and raised in Mount Sinai, where her high school softball team reached the 2015 Long Island Class A championship game, Solomos is the elder of two daughters of Michael, an IT executive with the Farmingdale office-environment company Waldner's, and Gemma, a secretary in the Mount Sinai school district. After being exposed to baking during her job throughout high school at the counter of the now-closed Create-a-Cake in Port Jefferson Station, she graduated from Iona College with a marketing degree in 2019.

At the moment, Em's Custom Cookies — made in her parents' kitchen, "which they don't love, because it's just so much," Solomos says, chuckling — offers pickup only, with no shipping. But, she notes, "I've had people drive from all over to get them, including out-of-state." The "Christmas Cookie Challenge" exposure may bump up her business, which already is booked through February, but Solomos isn't looking to go full time. "I love the consistency of a 9-to-5 job," she says. "But later in life, that is something I would probably reconsider."

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