The holiday season brings images of savory collard greens gingered with smoked meats, the piquant smell of ham glazed with honey and decadent cobblers. For Upper Marlboro-based baker and pastry chef Ian Barthley, this year’s holiday festivities are particularly sweet because he is currently competing in a baking game show on the Food Network.

Ian Barthley is a local high school instructor who is competing on the “Holiday Baking Championship” on the Food Network. (Courtesy photo)

Barthley’s appearance on the Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship has catapulted the Oxon Hill High School culinary arts instructor to national audiences as he elevates traditional family favorites to dynamic baked delicacies.

Each week viewers will watch as Barthley, 48, concocts dishes before a panel of keen-eyed judges. His deserts, which include a sea salt caramel tart with cream caramel sauce and apple pie cheesecake with lime sherbet and salted peanut butter cookie, are an homage to Barthley’s training at the Culinary Institute of America. Barthley majored in baking and pastries while at the prestigious school and later went on to work at some of New York’s most sought-after restaurants. The 29-year industry veteran also runs Catering by Ian, which provides private teaching as well as food preparation. Barthley said his flavorful dishes are often inspired by his upbringing in All Saints Village, Antigua.

“A lot of the flavors I use are influenced by growing up in the Caribbean,” Barthley told the AFRO. “So, everybody thinks about coconut but I use a lot of passion fruit, mangos, guava and soursop. I use quite a bit of tropical fruit.”

Barthley said his 12-year-old daughter, who has Down syndrome, and students at Oxon Hill High School in Prince George’s County sparked his decision to participate in the show, as he wants to show them “anything is possible.” He also shared stories about assisting former students who went on to transcend financial limitations and blighted communities to thrive in college and career.

“About 15 years ago I made the decision to walk away at the height of my career –to concentrate on my family,” Barthley said. “Winning this would let me know my talents and everything I bring to the table are still relevant.”