Deer Lakes High School graduate hopes to win big in online baking competition

Julia Cresta has what it takes to be “The Greatest Baker of 2020.” She just needs a little help getting there.

The 24-year-old Richland resident is a contestant in “The Greatest Baker” online competition, which pits bakers from around the world against one another for a chance to win $10,000 and get a feature in Bake from Scratch magazine.

A Deer Lakes High School graduate, Cresta has always wanted to own her own bakery cafe. She recently quit her job as a pastry chef at a restaurant to focus all her time and effort into making that dream a reality.

The prize money and magazine feature would help immensely.

“I kind of have this hope that I’m keeping humbly in the back of my head that I could win,” Cresta said.

The competition consists of six rounds — Top 10; Top 5; Group Winners; Quarter-finals; Semi-Finals; and Finals.

The winner will be the baker who ultimately receives the highest number of votes.

The voting takes place through Facebook. People must have a valid Facebook account to vote.

Voting can be done one of two ways. People can vote for their favorite baker once a day for free, or they can buy additional votes. The paid votes will benefit Share Our Strength’s “No Kid Hungry” campaign, which works to end childhood hunger.

“To everybody who may want to vote for me, I just want to tell them thank you in advance, and they probably will not regret it,” Cresta said.

Contestants have been divided into groups for the Top 10 round. Voting for the Top 10 spots ends Thursday.

Messages sent to competition representatives weren’t returned by press time.

Cresta comes from a cooking family. Her grandparents owned La Villa, an Italian restaurant in Richland, which is now closed. She spent a fair amount of her childhood there.

“My grandparents would pick us up from school. They’d bring us to the restaurant for a few hours. I grew up in the kitchen with them just doing so much stuff,” Cresta said.

“I learned a lot from (my grandparents) for sure,” Cresta said. “My whole family really was into cooking. My dad was into it a lot and would teach me some tips and tools and things like that.”

Cresta originally wanted to be a chef, but ended up falling in love with baking while attending The Academy of Culinary Arts at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She graduated with a degree in culinary arts and advanced baking and pastry arts in 2016.

“I, like, with baking, just kind of the feel of it and the way things look when they’re done,” Cresta said.

Cresta’s signature bake is chocolate chunk cookies. She is passionate about cakes and cake decorating and has a soft spot for French macarons.

Some of her cake designs have been a little out of the ordinary. Over the summer, for instance, she was asked to make a cake resembling a crawfish boil.

“The top basically looked like a pot overflowing of crawfish and corn and baked potatoes and steam and bubbles,” Cresta said. “I just thought that was a crazy request.”

Cresta signed up for the competition on a whim after seeing it on social media. Since she quit her job to focus on starting her own business, she said the opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time.

“I’m just diving headfirst into business plans and financials just to get the business that I want to be doing up and going,” Cresta said.

Madasyn Lee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Madasyn at 724-226-4702, or via Twitter .

Local | Valley News Dispatch

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