Kellen Whaley graduated from Junction City High School in 2005. After high school, he discovered his passion for baking. He started with cupcakes, but then soon found his niche in cookies. Kellen didn’t receive any professional training on how to bake. He learned the skill through determination and passion.
Kellen now creates confectionary masterpieces from the comfort of his home. His Instagram-worthy decorations can make any mouth water. Kellen’s primary work isn’t making cookies, but it is easy to see that it is his favorite thing to do.
Kellen has gained national attention for his craft. He has been noticed as a premier cookie maker by an expert in food – Food Network.
This Sunday, Kellen will appear on the Food Network show, Cookie Wars. Kellen was part of a four-person team that competed to make the best cookies, under the constraints of a short time-limit. “The hardest part about competing on a food competition show is time,” he says. “When you’re cooking or baking at home, you have all the time in the world. Not only that, you’re familiar with your surroundings and your equipment and you don’t have to sprint across the room to grab the salt. When you’re baking in a challenge, you have such a short amount of time to do the entire process that would normally take you two days to complete. The clock is never your friend, but you have to adapt and figure out a plan that will allow you to put out something you’re proud of.”
This isn’t the first time Kellen has faced the challenge of cooking in front of cameras. Last year, in November, Kellen competed on a show called Christmas Cookie Challenge. He won that challenge, and no one is prouder of that accomplishment than his mom, Belle Whaley, a long-time employee of Geary County Schools. She is happy to share his accomplishment with coworkers and friends, and she is the first to encourage everyone to tune in and watch Kellen compete.
This competition was different for Kellen, though. The last time he competed on Food Network, he baked alone. This time, he was part of a team of four. “This was my first experience working with other people in the kitchen. As a home baker, I work alone. Just me and my cookies. This was a brand-new challenge because instead of doing my own ideas, we had to collaborate to create something that everyone had their hand in. It was great not only to collaborate with other cookiers, but to learn new techniques and skills,” he says.
If you want to watch Kellen and cheer him on, you can see him this Sunday, December 22nd at 10 pm, on the Food Network. If you would like to see more of Kellen’s creations, you can check his Facebook page, under the name Whaley Sweet, or his Instagram page @whaley_sweet.
Good luck to Kellen!