TV Behind the Scenes

My Fail on Food Network

Food Network Christmas Cookie Challenge Contestants (Photo Courtesy of my TV)

Food Network Christmas Cookie Challenge Contestants (Photo Courtesy of my TV) (Did this really happen?!)

This past August, I found myself out in LA competing in a show for Food Network called the Christmas Cookie Challenge. The circumstances that brought me there walked the fine line between daring greatly and being a pie-in-the-sky fool. Since all information leading up was extremely vague and hush hush, I had fully convinced myself it would be a timed decorated cookie decorating competition show- kind of like Face Off (great show!)… big crazy themed challenges, a few hours to work on each challenge, crazy fun sets, decorations and candy galore…

What it turned out to actually be was a timed cookie baking competition featuring all kinds of cookies. The extra kicker was that in the first challenge, no decorated cookies were allowed. Sure, I bake lots of other cookies, but I don’t have a long scrolling menu of various cookies committed to memory and in that ticking clock situation, even if I did, I’m not sure I could have pulled it off. Actually, I know I couldn’t have. To be honest, under the pressure of the clock and hub-bub I couldn’t even menu plan the challenge “Festive, Frosted and Filled” properly.

The best part about this experience? The other bakers! Jake of Cookie Connection, Megan of Groundswell, Jen of Batter and Tarsha of Missusjoy are all so amazing. Once we were permitted to talk to each other (very strict rules!), we quickly settled into fun banter of talking shop, laughing, comparing notes on our interview segments and navigating a crazy long lunch buffet (when all we really wanted was coffee- who could eat during this?!).

My Love Angel trio was featured in my intro on the show... These ladies were so happy to be included! I hope it doesn't go to their heads.

My Love Angel trio was featured in my intro on the show… These ladies were so happy to be included! I hope it doesn’t go to their heads.

I was on the plane home long before they named the winner but *SPOILER ALERT* Congratulations to Tarsha of Missusjoy! She is an absolutely amazing cookie baker and cookie artist. I wish we were neighbors! We talked about teaming up for a workshop one day… now THAT would be FUN!

Also included in my intro, this photo of Martha and me. Not surprisingly there were lots of Martha references. My favorite part of the show is when I'm running to grab my 1/2 chilled dough and Jonathan asks "Dani, what would Martha say?"

Also included in my intro, this photo of Martha and me. Not surprisingly there were lots of Martha references in terms of my participation. My favorite part of the show is when I’m running (literally) to grab my 1/2 chilled dough from the fridge and Jonathan the host asks “Dani, what would Martha say?” My answer could not have been more honest!

The set was so gorgeous and the judges were so sweet and amazing. (Duff and his sweaters!) If only I was allowed to have my camera on set! I would have taken so many photos to share… One image I forced myself to commit to memory was when the van that drove us in turned into the lot where the set was located. It was like one of those lots with the giant boxy warehouse buildings where they make movies. Very surreal.

The morning I got back, I wrote this on a cookie, went up to the roof with my dogs and ate it with a cup of coffee.

The morning I got back, I wrote this on a cookie, went up to the roof with Spot & Hope and ate it with a cup of coffee.

So I got sent home first and even though I was really, really embarrassed, I was also relieved. I have never in my life strived to be the fastest at anything so I did my best given the circumstances. I have spent many a sleepless night since August worried about everyone seeing my hideous cookies on the show. They didn’t look as bad as I remembered- not great either- but they all can’t be 10’s.

SDB Food Newtork Cookie Challenge_always do your best heart bite

Today I’m up early and the oven is on. I have a long to do list… pop-up shop later in the day, Christmas candy shopping after that (yes!!!). I decorated my first Santa cookie of the season yesterday and I’m eager to start spreading the Holiday love. Life is still very Sweet… Time to get to it! Onward and upward… Xo Dani

You can see the next airing of Food Network’s Christmas Cookie Challenge Sunday December 6th, at 2pm. Check listing for other details.

 

 

Icing Sheep Cookies with Steve Harvey and Christina Milian!

SDB Steve Harvey_Dani Fiori Christina Milian Steve Harvey 1 Steve Harvey Show February 2015

Dani Fiori, Christina Milian and Steve Harvey on the Steve Harvey Show (Photo courtesy of Steve Harvey TV)

A couple of weeks ago, when everyone on the Eastern seaboard was bracing for the blizzard (the blizzard that never was btw), I was on my way to Chicago to meet the hilarious and amazing Steve Harvey! My cookie assignment? Help Christina Milian make some fun and easy favors for her daughter’s 5th birthday party which she planned to be an animal theme! Here’s the behind-the-scenes of my fun whirlwind of a cookie adventure in Chicago…

I got in trouble for this carry on because it wouldn't close. Minutes before takeoff one of there flight attendants (who was very upset with me and didn't care that I was cookie expert on the way to a TV show) finally agreed to store it in the closet at the front pf the plane rather than my lap.

Newark Airport: I got in trouble for my carry-on because the plane was full and my cookie kit bag doesn’t really close. Minutes before takeoff one of flight attendants (who was very upset with me and didn’t care for my “I’m a  cookie expert on the way to a TV show” explanation) finally agreed to store it in the closet at the front pf the plane rather than my lap. If you happened to be on that plane and you are reading this- I am sorry for the drama but I was going to see Steve Harvey!

I waited a long time for my car at the airport because I would have never guessed it to be a stretch limo! (They had to call me to tell me that this car was for me!)

I waited a long time for my car at the airport because I would have never guessed it to be a stretch limo! (They had to call me to tell me that this car was for me!)

Chicago is an amazing city! I can't wait to go back!

Chicago is an amazing city! I can’t wait to go back!

After a quick look at the table...

Steve Harvey Studio: After a quick look at the table…

...and a quick tour of the Steve Harvey set with my friend and Creative Director, Kelli Bishop...

…and a quick tour of the Steve Harvey set with my friend and Creative Director, Kelli Bishop…

...I was off to Dylan's Candy with my set stylist, Mikel, to buy candy for cookie decorating. I headed right back to my hotel room and got to work.

…I was off to Dylan’s Candy with my set stylist, Mikel Welch, to buy candy for cookie decorating. I headed right back to my hotel room and got to work.

I'm guessing no one at the Public Hotel ever iced cookies all night in one of their rooms but you never know!

I’m guessing no one at the amazing Public Hotel ever iced cookies all night in one of their rooms but you never know!

I wanted to have plenty of sheep cookie beauties for Mikel to style with.

I wanted to have plenty of sheep cookie beauties for Mikel to style with… these sheep were made from my signature SDB Sheep Cookie Cutter which comes in 2 sizes.

Shimmer sprinkle cookie sheep!

Shimmer sprinkle cookie sheep!

And I couldn't resist spelling out Steve's name in cookie marquee letters!

I couldn’t resist making a few mustaches or spelling out Mr. Harvey’s name in cookie marquee letters!

Making royal icing right before my segment

Steve Harvey Studio Show Day: Here I am backstage making royal icing right before my segment.

I LOVED the way Mikel styled the table! YUM!

I LOVED the way Mikel styled the table! YUM!

About a minute before I was about to go on: Wardrobe check, hair and makeup touch ups... What an amazing team! I was so grateful to them!

About 2 minutes before I was about to go on; Wardrobe check, hair and makeup touch ups… What an amazing team! I was so grateful to them! Here I am also listening to the interview segment with Steve Harvey and Christina Milian.

The segment was super fun! Christina added hearts to her sheep's fur while Steve used champagne bubbles and sprinkles!

The segment was super fun! Mr. Harvey definitely kept us laughing and turned out to be a great cookie icer!

I loved how Christina added hearts to her sheep fur while Steve used champagne bubbles and chocolate sprinkles!

I loved how Christina added hearts to her sheep fur while Steve used champagne bubbles and chocolate sprinkles!

We gifted Christina a cookie gift box for her daughter inspired by her animated character, Shelby Star.

At the end of the segment we gifted Christina a cookie gift box for her daughter inspired by her animated character, Shelby Star. (Photo courtesy of Steve Harvey TV)

...and just like that, the segment is over and the table is dismantled!

…and just like that, the segment is over and the table is dismantled!

After the show we packaged up all the cookies and gifted them to everybody.

…but we packaged up all the cookies we could and Kelli shared them with the amazing Steve Harvey staff.

Thank you Mr. Harvey and to everybody at the show for being so SWEET! What an amazing adventure! If you missed the segment you can catch it here at Steve Harvey TV. Meanwhile, our signature sheep cookies will be inspiring us all year long as 2015 is the Year of the Sheep and there are just too many adorable and delicious ways to ice them!

To purchase our sheep cookie cutter click here.

To purchase our Expert Icing Bottle Kit click here.

To watch a tutorial on how-to-ice our fluffy sheep on SweetDaniB TV click here.

Life is Sweet! Xo Dani