A UCF sophomore makes his debut this Sunday as the youngest-ever competitor on Food Network’s hit show “Halloween Wars.”
The show pits six teams of three against each other to build spooky creations, with each member of the team contributing expertise in either cake decorating, sugar art or pumpkin carving.
Jarid Altmark, an advertising and public relations major, has been collecting sponsorships and first place finishes in cake-decorating competitions since he was 14. But nothing prepared him for the pressure of television.
“Going into this I had no idea what completing a concept in 45 minutes was like,” says Altmark, who turned 18 just four days prior to arriving in Los Angeles for filming last September. “You have a general idea of how stressful something like that will be, but being in it is completely different.”
Boosting his confidence were teammates Rebecca Milican and Mike Brown, the sugar artist and pumpkin carver, respectively. Both are veterans of the show, with Brown’s team winning in 2017.
“Our team dynamic truly felt the best in the competition, and I think we were all very pleasantly surprised with how well we worked with each other,” says Altmark. “We had (communicated) a lot before getting to Halloween Wars, so when we got there we had already been in each other’s lives for a while.”
Altmark can’t reveal how far his team placed before the show’s conclusion, but he walked away with nerves of steel and a fresh perspective on where to take his business, Jarid’s Awesome Cakes. He also built some friendships, including host Jonathan Bennett, who provided comedic relief on set during an incredibly stressful competition.
“Since this was such a crazy process, it was so nice to have someone around that was so cool, nice, and funny. You need to be laughing when you’re doing something as intense as this,” Altmark says.
Altmark isn’t the first UCF participant on the show. School of Visual Arts and Design grad James Hall ’05 ’10MFA was on the winning team in 2016 and is competing again this season as part of the Frosted Freakshow team. Hall studied art as an undergraduate student and earned a master’s in studio art and the computer from the university.