By day, ice and food carver David Smith is holed up in his meticulously organized Linworth studio, making his next customer's ideas come to life in three dimensions. By night, for the next few weeks, at least, you can catch him on your television, on Food Network's "Cake Wars Christmas." He's the muscle-bound guy with the charming smile and wicked scalpel skills on team We Three Kings, competing for $50,000 and the glory of being called a champion.

By day, ice and food carver David Smith is holed up in his meticulously organized Linworth studio, making his next customer's ideas come to life in three dimensions. By night, for the next few weeks, at least, you can catch him on your television, on Food Network's "Cake Wars Christmas." He's the muscle-bound guy with the charming smile and wicked scalpel skills on team We Three Kings, competing for $50,000 and the glory of being called a champion.

Smith, fast-talking and quick with wit, is utterly at ease in front of a camera. (He's been there before, on the network's "Halloween Wars," sculpting pumpkins into ghouls and goblins.) The first episode of "Cake Wars," which aired Nov. 9, saw him carving a palm tree out of taro root and adorning it with watermelon-rind leaves, all toward the end of placing Disney's "Frozen" character Olaf on a Hawaiian island. (Ah, product placement.) Expect to hear plenty more of his quips and observations edited into episodes for the rest of the season - he's brimming with them.

"Some people like roller coasters, some don't. I thrive. I love to talk, love to be on stage," he says. "And, when people see something on TV, they want to buy it. It's the American dream."

In a few weeks, the phone will be ringing off the hook again at Smith's Frost Lion Ice Plus business, where he and associate Tator Edwards make dreams come true in cheese, chocolate, watermelon, butter, pumpkin, ice - you name it, they carve it. Christmas and New Year's are big holidays for pricey ice sculptures, though Smith's year-round business includes plenty of orders for vodka luges (including the occasional penis for a bachelorette party and, recently, one in the guise of a guillotine for a Halloween party), sculptures, shot glasses and raw-bar displays.

He got his start at the Bradford School's culinary arts program, where he persuaded program leaders to let him focus on ice and food sculpting, which were close to his lifelong love of art and illustrating. "I only went into the kitchen to do fancy plating, anyway," he said, describing his attitude toward food as, "What do you mean, it doesn't taste good? Don't eat it. Just look at it."

He was never meant for the "dungeon" of a restaurant kitchen, he says, where he'd be making 300 of the same thing night after night. "The hours versus the reward were never really there," he said. "We get a lot of artistic liberty you wouldn't get in other businesses." He's also found ways to be creative with the business, renting out a press to satisfy demand for crystal-clear artisanal ice cubes and spheres for fancy cocktail bars and even offering a breakdown service for clients who aren't sure what to do with the 200-pound ice sculpture in their living room at the end of a long party.

Instead, every day presents a new challenge at Frost Lion. He's active on the competition circuit, culminating in an early-spring trip to Alaska for a BP-sponsored contest.

"The average temperature is about 30 below, 20 below. The blocks of ice are absolutely monstrous. It's the ultimate experience," he said. "Last year, the Northern Lights were ripping the sky apart. You can't beat it. It's hard to come home from Alaska."

And, of course, he's got the occasional television gig, another creative outlet and an opportunity to geek out over the skills of his teammates, whose specialties are cake and sugar art.

"I have a whole respect for these people, especially sugar work, maybe because I used to blow glass," he says. "It's hard to get your work done because you're looking at the other guys. It's mind-blowing what they're able to work with."

Cake Wars Christmas

Food Network

9 p.m. Mondays

Frost Lion Ice Plus

6482 Fiesta Drive, Linworth

614-789-3547

frostlioniceplus.com