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?!).
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!
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.
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.
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.