Live Chat with Food Network Christmas Cookie Challengers

1 - First, welcome to our MANY featured guests today: Arlene, Julia P, Aime, Nicole, and Andrea! And kudos for having the courage to apply for and to compete in Food Network's series of Christmas cookie challenges. You are all winners just for going for it! (I'm numbering my intro comments just to help me keep track of them! I've got A LOT of advance questions and answers to post today! It may get crazy!)
2 - Good morning to everyone joining us as well! I encourage everyone to jump in with questions. These chats are always more fun and informative when people don't hang back on the sidelines!
3 - Though . . . before we dive into Q&A, just a few housekeeping notes for newbies to our chats: questions are generally answered in the order received, but they will not post to the public/viewable area of the chat until our guests have finished with the question received just before yours. That said, please be patient and do not re-post the same question. It may take some time to answer your question, depending on where it sits in the queue. But I will personally make sure every question gets answered before we're through.
4 - IMPORTANT - Since we've got a lot of guests and possible questions this time, I'd like to give this chat a little more structure than usual. Specifically, I'd like to divide this discussion into four broad segments: (1) Interviewing/Applying for the Challenge; (2) Prepping in Advance; (3) Competing; and (4) Dealing with the Aftermath. That said, please preface each of your questions with the section to which it pertains, i.e., by writing "SECTION 1 (2, 3, or 4)" followed by your question. I will start with Section 1 questions first; once they've all been answered, I'll proceed to Section 2 questions, and so on and so forth. Thanks!
5 - Also, if you have a question for a SPECIFIC guest, please preface that question with that guest's name, and please distinguish Julia Perugini from me (Julia Usher) by saying "Julia P" or "Julia U". Thanks!
6 - Lastly, please ask just one question at a time (per post); it's easier for our guests to keep up and others to read the chat transcript if they're not hit with too many questions at once. Thanks!
7 - Hi, everyone! Congrats Aime and Nicole on your big wins and also congrats (and admiration) Arlene, Julia P, and Andrea for making it on to the show. You all did an amazing job!
8 - First, I want to say that I was amazed watching everyone make some very creative cookies in such a short (and very stressful) amount of time, but I had to chuckle because somewhere out there is a customer who is now convinced that this is proof that they CAN order on a Friday morning and pick up that same afternoon!
I know . . . chuckling about that too!
Thanks Sweet Prodigy-Christine
9 - SECTION 1/INTERVIEWING & APPLYING: Let's start with a pretty basic question. How or where did you all learn about these challenges and how to apply?
Good morning! SO happy to be here!
10 - Before they answer, I should note that all of our guests have signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with Food Network that may prohibit them from answering some of our questions. I've asked them to let us know whenever this is the case, so that we can move quickly onto questions that their NDAs allow them to answer.
Good morning everyone!
Hi, all!
Julia P answered my first question in advance, so I am posting it now. But looking forward to hearing from the rest of you LIVE. Go!
JULIA M USHER - SECTION 1/INTERVIEWING & APPLYING: Let's start with a pretty basic question. How or where did you all learn about these challenges and how to apply? ANSWER: I saw the first season and at that time I sent an e-mail asking about it. It was 2 years before, and I never got answer. One day, I was in my kitchen making rice and it was a crazy day! When I answer the phone, it was a producer and she asked me if I was Julia. She told me that she saw my old email and likes my Instagram. I could not believe it! She asked if I was interested in casting for the new season. I said yes!!!! 🎉🎉🎉🎉
I had several friends and neighbors that kept sending me the online application and they wouldn't stop!!! Ha! So, I legitimately applied and had a call back pretty quickly!
Great!
And this was my first ever show to apply for! Which is completely exciting to me!
Julia M. UsherModerator11:02 AM 9 - SECTION 1/INTERVIEWING & APPLYING: Let's start with a pretty basic question. How or where did you all learn about these challenges and how to apply? ANSWER: I was contacted by a casting agent who was working for Food Network. They told me about the show and we started the lengthy interview process which included multiple Skype interviews, sending lots of photos of my family and me as well as my work and SO MANY phone calls. Anyone can apply to be on this (and any Food Network show) on their website!
Hello everyone 😁💕🎉
Everyone - we've already gotten several questions about the advance information people got and whether they could bring recipes into the challenge, We'll be answering those shortly, so no need to submit that question again.
Julia M Usher 7 - SECTION 1/INTERVIEWING & APPLYING: Let's start with a pretty basic question. How or where did you all learn about these challenges and how to apply? ANSWER: After competing in the NY Cake Show, I started receiving emails from casting teams asking me to tryout for different televised competitions. When I received the first email, I originally thought it was spam and didn't respond for almost two weeks! The email said they found my work on Instagram. Thank god for social media lol!
Good Morning Everyone!
I also get contacted by the casting agents every season (and with nearly every cookie show) and post the applications on Cookie Connection and elsewhere online. So this may also be another way for interested people to find out about future challenges.
Next question for Section 1 . . .
Section 1: How much are they focusing on skill (in the interview process), and how much on entertainment value? Some of the guests were pretty novice (not the guests from here).....
I think it has a lot to do with personality, some to do with talent and a lot to do with what type of person they are looking for! I swear I filled the role of "mom" for them, and proudly! Lol
LOL!
Illinois Pam - I had to send several pictures of different types of cookies. I also had to do a skype interview with several types cookies. I was shocked on the show that we only had to make decorated cookies
Illinois Pam11:07 AM Section 1: How much are they focusing on skill (in the interview process), and how much on entertainment value? Some of the guests were pretty novice (not the guests from here)..... ANSWER: It's hard to say since they told us very little about the process and we knew NOTHING about the other applicants, but there were a number of factors that went into being selected for sure! I suppose they want a variety of looks, personalities and styles to mix it up and keep it entertaining! At the end of the day, it's Television, baby!
I was shocked too, Nicole!! I wasn't prepared to only do decorated cookies! I was SO into macarons!! LOL
I practiced drop cookies and linzer cookies until my pants didn't fit anymore!
Interesting, Nicole and Andrea. In the past when they've sent me casting notices, they've always said they want broad decorating and baking experience, not just decorators. But I noticed the decorating focus too.
I think that may be why some people looked novice. Several people on my show were trained pastry chefs with cookie businesses (just not decorated cookies). I spent week practicing all different types of cookies. Only to have to make cookies I make all the time
We were never told to focus on "decorating" at all. During the interview process, it was on "COOKIES" and not just decorated!
Haha! I pretty much concur!
Arlene! haha "ditto"
Any other "Section 1" questions from those watching. By that I mean ones that relate to the interview or application process.
My episode, two of the competitors lean more towards cakes, so that is definitely why they may have found the challenges more challenging!
I am surprised at the focus on decorating also. Usually they want 'Martha Stewart' wannabees that know how to do everything!!
Illinois Pam Section 1: How much are hey focusing on skill, and how much on entertainment value? Some of the guests were pretty novice (not the guests from here)..... Well it’s a tv show! They sure choose people who aren’t interesting to see on tv I think. But the most important is skills. You need to go though a casting process and prove that you can do different things and you can do that under pressure and fast. They Had pastry chefs, they had girls like as they really looking for people who can bake. It’s not easy to get in the show.
Illinois Pam You're so right! That's what we were expecting as well
Our featured guests were certainly the rock stars on this series!!
Agreed!
I have one more question about the interview process if no one else does. Here goes . . .
SECTION 1 - What was the most difficult part about the application/interview process for each of you? And what tips would you give to those who want to apply for the next challenge?
Julia M. Usher: The most difficult thing was not knowing what was going on... ever. We didn't get official word that we made it until just a few short weeks before we left. I almost didn't go because I felt a little anxious about the unknowns!
Be YOU! No really, be you. Show who you really are and be confident! I love doing things live and fast, so if you aren't....get there! It is no joke with how fast paced it all is and no "do-overs"!
Yeah, I would be nervous about that too, Painted Pastry!
I agree...I had two or three weeks notice to flying out, I had actually convinced myself that I wasn't chosen because of the waiting to hear!
I wholeheartedly agree! Be yourself! The hardest was making yourself readily available at ALL times for them. I have a full time job and when they ask you to bake numerous samples and have it ready within less then 24 hours, you work your butt off to deliver!
I agree with Andy and Arlene!
Be yourself (but only if you are awesome...lol) if not be a unicorn
I just added a bit of time to the chat since we have SO many advance questions in the other sections. Just don't want the chat timing out on us as I'm posting all of your great responses!
Hahhaha Nicole!
Nicole said unicorn.....
OMG, Arlene (aka Chua Cookie), did you have to send them actual cookie samples, or just photos?
JULIA M. USHERMODERATOR9:14 AM SECTION 1 - What was the most difficult part about the application/interview process for each of you? And what tips would you give to those who want to apply for the next challenge? It’s hard because they don’t tell you anything! Also you don’t know who are the other people casting... you don’t know when you will film the show... you don’t know anything! I had to have my life in hold until get the yes. Then after the yes you just don’t know when they will call you in. You don’t know where to go nothing!
We had to show the samples via live Skype interview and explain the processes of making them
Ahh!
One more Section 1 question from Illinois Pam, and then we'll move onto Section 2 - Advance Prep.
SECTION 1 - How much of the cost to participate came out of your pocket, and how much did the show cover?
Funny story.... In every email, they referred to where we would be filming as "LA". I took this to mean Los Angeles.. as in California! Imagine my surprise when I found out it meant LOUISIANA! haha
LOL - both fun places though!
It didn't cost me anything to compete. Food Network was really awesome. All expenses paid and they took such good care of me on my entire trip! Only expense was being gone and missing work!
Illinois Pam: Food Network was amazing and covered all expenses!
We don’t spend money... they pay everything. Yay! Free food and trip 😂😂😂
Ditto!
Well I'm a nosey social media stalker so I had some idea that Andrea and Amie would be competingbecasue of all the different cookies they were making - I was just hoping they weren't on the same episode as me...lol
They are amazing! I loved everything about the show!
Awesome! I imagine that was everyone's experience, so I am moving onto Section 2 questions. We had many of those come in advance, so I will be posting a bunch of pre-answered questions for a bit.
Ha!!! I had a feeling Aime was going to be competing! And when I arrived and met the cast on my episode, I was totally shocked to not see her!
SECTION 2/ADVANCE PREP: How much info, if any, do they give you in advance about the challenges they will have you do? Is there any way to prepare in advance?
Show covered everything except the cost of you practicing a million different types of cookies to be prepared...lol
{JULIA'S NOTE: THIS QUESTION IS VERY SIMILAR TO MINE SO POSTING AT THE SAME TIME} SECTION 2/ADVANCE PREP: All joking aside, were you really given your challenges at the last minute - as we saw on TV - or did you have time to think about and prepare for the cookies you created?
JULIA M USHER - SECTION 2/ADVANCE PREP: How much info, if any, do they give you in advance about the challenges they will have you do? Is there any way to prepare in advance? ANSWER: The very first time you see the set, the kitchen, the host or anything in that room is when you are being filmed. Baking stations are assigned to us right before we enter the room and drawn out on a clipboard like a basketball play. You hear the word "action", enter the room and it's on! You learn about the space you're working in as you go.... in fact, I spent half my time trying to zest an orange with a nut grater because I had no idea if/where I had a zester!
JULIA M USHER - Section 2/Advance Prep: My first time seeing the cookie cutters that I would be able to use during my challenge was when they said on your marks get set go...lol. Well, not really as I was sneaking a peek while Eddie was telling us about the challenge. We did have a period of about 4 weeks to practice as many cookies as we could. I tried to memorize and nail down recipes that I could easily add things too so that I would prepared for anything they might throw at me. My first time making both recipes was on the show. I'd never made a butter pecan cookie before but since pecan was the flavor I liked the most from the ones I had to choose, I just went with that and tried to make something yummy.
SWEET PRODIGY - Section 2/Advance Prep: During the interview process, I knew that it was obviously a "cookie" challenge and also a "Christmas" challenge. SO, that meant that I practiced every kind of cookie I could possibly attempt! My kitchen was a crazy cookie factory and I had so many thankful neighbors because they got to eat them all! Since I knew it was Christmas, and I focus solely on decorated sugar cookies, I was obviously imagining all sorts of designs, that could come my way! Funny thing is, everything I had mentally prepped for is all still in my back pocket of tricks! It was a fly by the seat of your pants experience!
JULIA M USHER - SECTION 2/ADVANCE PREP: How much info, if any, do they give you in advance about the challenges they will have you do? Is there any way to prepare in advance? ANSWER: They don’t give any info; you have to go and just try to be calm and organized.
JULIA M USHER - SECTION 2/ADVANCE PREP: How much info, if any, do they give you in advance about the challenges they will have you do? Is there any way to prepare in advance? ANSWER: Food Network will give you a broad range of tips a few weeks leading up to the competition. We are told to begin timing ourselves at home and be prepared to make a broad range of cookies such as structural, decorated, drop cookies, icing cookies, filled cookies, etc. It was really up in the air. I was convinced my episode would have a structural element (it didn’t, lol) ,and I practiced making gingerbread houses for dayssssss. I made soooo many cookies for weeks! I brought them to work telling my co-workers I was “testing” new recipes. I’m the most popular gal in the office now - ha!
I think the girls can agree that it’s hard don’t know what cookies cutters will be there.... I wish I could take my own cutters 😂😂😂 But you can’t
SWEET PRODIGY - Christine SECTION 2/ADVANCE PREP: All joking aside, were you really given your challenges at the last minute - as we saw on TV - or did you have time to think about and prepare for the cookies you created? ANSWER: Yes, we had no idea what tools or ingredients would be available to us!
So, both AmyGirl and Illinois Pam asked similar questions about bringing in recipes and supplies. I'm posting them for completeness, but I think you all answered them. If you guests have anything to add related to their questions, please do!
{JULIA'S NOTE: WE ANSWERED THIS QUESTION EARLIER, PLEASE SCROLL UP FOR RESPONSES} SECTION 2/ADVANCE PREP: I often thought about doing one of the cookie challenges and I was wondering if you are allowed to follow a recipe on the show? I’m not good at remembering recipes off the top of my head and need to follow a recipe 😊. Thanks!
{JULIA'S NOTE: WE ANSWERED THIS QUESTION EARLIER, PLEASE SCROLL UP FOR RESPONSES} SECTION 2/ADVANCE PREP: Were you informed of the challenges ahead of time, and were you allowed to bring recipes and special supplies with you?
Hello everyone! GM
Morning
We had no idea what supplies we had to work with and could not bring anything in with us. One of the most difficult things for me was that we didn't have anything to tie our piping bags with! I was struggling to keep the icing in my bag more than anything! It's those small things that you would have no idea about while watching, but they make such a huge difference!
Okay, some of the above questions about recipes were asked by many and previously answered in our Section 3 questions, so moving onto those questions now.
SECTION 3/COMPETING: How difficult is it to not forget your recipe while competing ?
Oh my gosh,I so agree Amy!! I am so used to my tools that I use daily, I was a fish out of water!!! The piping bags nearly killed me. And scissors that came apart.....my space was a HOT mess b/c I was so foreign in there!
Ditto again on the tools! I use specific paint brushes and was bummed they were not available!
Illinois Pam - I'm working through advance questions now. Many of the questions you're asking have been answered already; just getting to them now. Thanks for your patience.
THE PIPING BAGS WERE TERRIBLE! I spend most of my precious time trying to open them! And YES on the brushes!
MLESLIE7671 - SECTION 3/COMPETING - Sigh. In high stress, with little time to work and cameras in your face, things are easily forgotten! In the first competition, I literally forgot how many ounces are in a pound for my powdered sugar. And truth be told, my batch of royal icing was completely wrong and I'm so thankful that I was able to salvage it!
Amy I was lost too! Also the big big kitchen got me confused...
And I think our work stations had 5 piping bags....I had to hunt down extras b/c I kept tearing the hole in the bottom of those bags!!!
MLESLIE7671 - SECTION 3/COMPETING: How difficult is it to not forget your recipe while competing ? ANSWER: Oh boy! Some aspects were a no-brainer... like... you literally aren't using your own brain! Muscle memory takes over and you just start working away. Other times, a wave of panic hits and you think "Did I even add eggs?! Does this recipe even call for eggs?! Where am I?!"
The bags were the worst.
MLESLIE7671 - Section 3/Competing: I have ADHD and the struggle is real.
MSLESLIE7671 - SECTION 3/COMPETING: How difficult is it to not forget your recipe while competing ? ANSWER: I have most of my recipes memorized after so many years baking since I was a kid. But I always start my cookies or anything that I bake by separating and measuring everything before I start so I know the exact order. I keep it all in a line so I always know what is the next ingredient. Being organized is very important in a food competition.
MLESLIE7671 - SECTION 3/COMPETING: How difficult is it to not forget your recipe while competing? ANSWER: Not only was it difficult, but you are moving at such a FAST pace, you forget what you even wanted to make in the first place! For example, once I found out what the first challenge was, I had originally intended to make a cookie with buttercream icing. My muscle memory immediately had me making royal icing because it’s what I’m so used to making at home. There was no time to change it, so I had to roll with the flow! What I found even harder than remembering my recipes was getting acquainted with working in a new kitchen.
I'm thankful that my running around like a chicken and sweating like a crazy person didn't make the final cut on the episodes, all while hunting for things in that massive kitchen!
SECTION 3/COMPETING: Related to MSLESLIE7671's earlier question - Do they allow you to bring written recipes into the competition?
MY piping bag burst twice. Green icing everywhere. I'm actually surprised it didn't make it to TV! Lol
Illinois Pam asked the same question I just did . . .
Ha!!! Arlene!!! I may have thrown a gumdrop in anger at Eddie!!!
SECTION 3/COMPETING: It sounds like everyone practiced a lot, but were you able to have printed recipes there, or even use the internet to find things?
You are not allowed to bring ANYTHING into the competition with you. They even pick your clothes!
Andrea ... me too! I was like a crazy person everywhere!
Okay, so we're clear on that - no recipes allowed in the competition!
Morning!! So proud of all of you!
You cannot take anything with you. Period. My outfit of choice wasn't even selected.....LOL! No phones, no internet, no access to asking questions....nada!
How do you deal with 90 min.? It takes me 3 days!
Well, I have to say, for all the chaos you guys went through, you did an excellent job on the show!!
That's why my cookie was a hot mess!
CHAOS is a great way to sum it up!
Thank you Pam!
So Illinois Pam also asked more or less the same question I did in advance so I'm posting both of our questions at the same time.
Oh yes! I was sad that they changed my outfit... also I wish they gave me pictures... you can’t take pictures... you can’t have phone with you.... it’s all a big secret
SECTION 3/COMPETING: How long did it take to shoot the entire episode? I'm wondering how much re-taking and cutting they actually did to get to the final episode length?
SECTION 3/COMPETING: How long did it actually take to tape what we see on 1 show? 1 Day? 1 Week??
Pat Gottschalk: I know, right!!? That included making the dough (which a lot of people seem to forget) That's why our work on the show wasn't the same as our work in real life!
JULIA M USHER - SECTION 3/COMPETING: How long did it take to shoot the entire episode? I'm wondering how much re-taking and cutting they actually did to get to the final episode length? ANSWER: Any time we are in the kitchen, we were actually being timed. They set the clock, said "Go" and nothing stopped until the time was up. If you didn't finish (or your cookie trees were falling over!), tough cookies! You could ask for a time update at any point and they would periodically ask us to shout out times. All the "interview style" footage was filmed before and after filming the competition.
Julia P: That was the saddest part for me! I wanted pictures of the whole experience!
JULIA M USHER - Section3/Competing: Once they said go and the timer started, there were no breaks until the time was up. So all the questions the host and producers had while you baked cut into your time.
JULIA M USHER - SECTION 3/COMPETING: How long did it take to shoot the entire episode? I'm wondering how much re-taking and cutting they actually did to get to the final episode length? ANSWER: The time that we are inside the kitchen is the only time that we have! This is not a scripted episode; it’s actually real! So when you get inside the kitchen, the clock is going. If you need to go to the toilet, it doesn't stop for you!
Me too!! We had a professional photographer on set and I'll never see those images.
Illinois Pam: I was there from Sunday- Friday
JULIA M USHER - SECTION 3/COMPETING: How long did it take to shoot the entire episode? I'm wondering how much re-taking and cutting they actually did to get to the final episode length? ANSWER: The entire competition part of the episode was taped in one day. The interviews were done before and after the competition.
Yes!!!! I asked for pictures last week again and they say no.... so sad!
Illinois Pam - Your next question was just answered above, I believe, but posting it for completeness. If anyone has anything to add, please do.
SECTION 3/COMPETING: Once you found out the challenge, did you have time to plan, or did they really go right into the 'clock time' as we see on the show?
Some questions related to pictures not being released.
Why no pictures?
Awww, I think it would be awesome to have a pic with Ree! She is following you on IG, right?
Kathy Pilato- Yes! She is!
Those on the chat asking questions, please remember to preface your questions with the section of the chat to which they pertain. We are trying to work through various topics in order (scroll up to the intro to find them). This will help me greatly in organizing the chat. Thanks!
208bakes: Food Network wants to keep everything a secret to make the show more exciting. If images of the set, competitors etc. are leaked early, it would ruin the show. I'm sure it's too much risk to manage if we're all snapping photos. They also don't want anyone to have internet access on phones
I think Kathy's question below was already answered, in that the mini interviews are filmed before and after the actual competition, but correct me if I am wrong.
SECTION 3/COMPETING: How did those mini interviews go? Were they during the middle of decorating?
That is so cool! And, Nichole, did you ever give her that pecan recipe?
I wish Ree was following me, truth be told lol! She only retweeted the cookies I made when I cookiefied the judges. I was thankful for that haha!
Kathy, no but she could have taken that cookie dough in the fridge
Were any of you contacted by any of the judges after the competition?
Oops, I mis-posted Illinois Pam's question as it relates to Section 4/The Aftermath, but go ahead and answer now. I still have several Section 3 advance questions to post, but I'll come back to those.
Contacted? No. But, I took a road trip with my best friend to a book signing of Ree Drummond. It was amazing!! She completely remembered me and we had a great little chat and photo! Such a great memory for me! (I swear I wasn't stalking, we had the trip planned before I even knew she was a judge)!
Andrea, that's amazing!
No - I'm not that popular...lol
Andrea how cute!
I take that back....I chatted with Damiano after the filming. We disagreed a little during judging and I had to clear the air. Bahahah!
Okay, I moving back to some Section 3 (Competing) advance questions . . .
SECTION 3/COMPETING: I loved watching the episodes so far and wondered: did the host actually interrupt you to make comments or ask questions!?
WABIESHAD - SECTION 3/COMPETING - Yes! The host, Eddie Jackson, did walk up in the middle of the competition and want to chat! Of course, he would always tell me to keep working, but I just couldn't! I stopped to chat with him several times in both competitions! During the final, he came in during a really stressful time and I had to tell him to go away! Lovingly, of course! There was also a producer in the kitchen during the competition who asked us questions throughout the competition, trying to get play by play of our designs/baking, etc. There may have been times that I was so focused, I didn't even hear their questions!
Got a comet on ig from one of the judges.
Illinois Pam- A few of the judges started following my instagram account so we're in touch through replying to stories etc. The host and I have been in touch too
Oops - forgot to post one of Andrea's responses to my earlier question so interjecting it now.
JULIA M USHER - SECTION 3/COMPETING - The actual episode competition was in real time, no stopping, no re-takes, no pauses, and definitely no bathroom breaks! The only part that had a "re-take" was the start where you see the competitors running to the pantry or work station. But once the clock actually started, it was real time! However, there were a TON of interviews that we did prior to the baking challenges, after seeing the kitchen, and after the competition, but a fraction of those made the episode!
WABIESHAD - SECTION 3/COMPETING: I loved watching the episodes so far and wondered: did the host actually interrupt you to make comments or ask questions!? ANSWER: Thank you very much! I'm so glad you enjoyed the episodes. The host ABSOLUTELY interrupts us (SO MUCH more than it shows!) You do not have to stop working, but obviously it's hard not to and the clock keeps on ticking all the while! In my episode, Eddie tried to get us all to sing the Christmas carol that inspired our cookie puzzle. When he came to me, not only did he ask me to sing THAT song, he continued to list of 4 others for me to sing. That footage made it on to a Food Network video called "Christmas Cookie Carols", but you don't see it on the episode. The Eddie visits made it lots of fun!
There's no way on this earth I would ever sing on TV!
WABIESHAD - Section 3/Competing: Yes! Eddie even asked me to draw him at one point (that part didn't make the show). People including producers were asking questions all the time - "Tell me, what you are doing", "Why did you do that?", "What are you using?", etc.
WABIESHAD - SECTION 3/COMPETING: I loved watching the episodes so far and wondered: did the host actually interrupt you to make comments or ask questions!? ANSWER: Yes he did! And at one point I told him to please don’t ask me anymore questions! 😂😂😂 And he gave me a smile, lol. Yes they ask questions of everyone and it’s a big distraction.
WABIESHAD - SECTION 3/COMPETING: I loved watching the episodes so far and wondered: did the host actually interrupt you to make comments or ask questions!? ANSWER: OMG!!!!! Yes!!! I did not anticipate this at all going into the competition! For some reason, I always assumed the clock stopped during the host drive-by interviews. Well, let me tell you - that clock stops for NOTHING! I mean, I love me some Eddie, but I was totally frazzled every time he came by. I never knew how hard it was to talk and work at the same time! I have such newfound appreciation for you Julia U. – never knew how difficult it must be for you to tape your tutorials and explain the process the entire time. This is something I definitely wish I practiced more at home!
Nicole- That's a good point too. The producers provoked us a lot! I never would have asked Holly if she and Steve were making the same cookie on my own. I had NO IDEA what they were doing
Ha!!! Aime, ditto!!! Seriously, I really could have cared less what anyone was doing, but I had to ask!!!
lol Andrea
Aww, thanks Chua Cookie (Arlene). It is hard to talk and demo at the same time, but, fortunately, I also control when I stop rolling the cameras. If I mess up, we cut and we roll again and retake. You guys did not have that luxury on Food Network.
I think they made me look little mean in the show.... the questions they make you ask got in my nerves a little
I have ADHD and could hardly focus on my own project.
Julia U: For sure! As soon as my tree cookies started to fall, you better believe every single camera in the room turned to face me!
Ha!!! Of course all my errors had three cameras on them! "Just whack em"
Oh my goodness... my gingerbread house lol
Okay, I am posting the last advance Section 3 question now. Will start on Section 4 next.
Amie - When I screamed because I burned my finger it was like I was the only person in the room - All cameras on me...lol
SECTION 3/COMPETING: We only saw a small and edited portion of what went on during the show. Was there anything interesting/hilarious/crazy that viewers didn't see or don't know about that you can share with us?
SWEET PRODIGY - Section 3/Competing: Lots of things end up on the cutting room floor. In my episode, they cut out me sketching my ideas for cookies. Eddie said I draw like a kindergartener and hopefully my cookies would turn out better than my sketches...lol.
SWEET PRODIGY - SECTION 3/COMPETING: We only saw a small and edited portion of what went on during the show. Was there anything interesting/hilarious/crazy that viewers didn't see or don't know about that you can share with us? ANSWER: The one thing I really wish everyone could have seen was how the 5 competitors interacted in our "down time". My group was AMAZING, hilarious, and so much fun. Some of us still text each other every single day (*cough, cough, Arlene). It would have been really cool to have some of those moments shown!
I am pretty good modeling but they just stay so on your face that made me stressed...
SWEET PRODIGY - Section 3/competing: SO many fun things happened that no one will ever see! Peter, who was my competitor, was leaping and twirling through the kitchen. So funny and so distracting!!! I was completely happy with how the episode, Santa's Sweet Spot, was edited with the exception of my judging. I was sad that they didn't show a fraction of what was said. What was shown in the first judging was a judge saying my cookie wasn't baked fully. What they didn't show was the other two judges adamantly disagreeing with him. So, there is always more to what you see! The episodes are so short to begin with, that you only get a glimpse into our time in the kitchen and before judges!
I love watching your videos, Julia!
Thanks, Kathy!
Nicole- YES! And the cameras are in your face! I hit the camera with my hands probably 10 times. That said, the crew was amazing and SO FUN to work with
SWEET PRODIGY - SECTION 3/COMPETING: They can if they want some jacked up cookies like the ones I produced...lol.
SWEET PRODIGY - SECTION 3/COMPETING: We only saw a small and edited portion of what went on during the show. Was there anything interesting/hilarious/crazy that viewers didn't see or don't know about that you can share with us? ANSWER: Yes, I have this heavy accent, right? So I can’t say lots of words well and everyone was laughing all the time, like even the camera people! I just make jokes all the time and a few inappropriate, I guess. I am glad they cut off my stupid sayings. Or most of it!
SWEET PRODIGY - SECTION 3/COMPETING: We only saw a small and edited portion of what went on during the show. Was there anything interesting/hilarious/crazy that viewers didn't see or don't know about that you can share with us? ANSWER: Soooo many antics! Eddie was such a funny host! At one point, I ran around the entire perimeter twice looking for a spatula that was actually right in front of my work area. Also, I loved the camaraderie in my group. Sure, it was a fierce competition, but there was just a dynamic and chemistry present in our group that I really LOVED! I still talk to them almost every day! Haha, thanks Aime!
Okay, I am posting one more live question from Illinois Pam in Section 3 (Competing); then moving onto Section 4.
Section 3: What was the most interesting judge response (that maybe we didn't see)? Did they ever really NOT like something they were given?
Hi all, I loved watching all of you and to be honest I don't know how the winners could kept for themselves such a big secret, after months later to reveal they were the winners, eeekkk!!!
I'll say it, Damiano said my cookie looked like a flaming bush and I told him, "JUST EAT THE BUSH" Yep. That happened.
Anyone cried? I did!
Illinois Pam: Great question! The judging is actually a really long process and they only show tiny quips. Aartie told me my white chocolate orange cranberry cookie was a "perfect cookie" and she was tough! I was looking forward to seeing that, but it ended up on the cutting room floor!
A fear of not getting your money will keep your mouth closed. ..lol. You don't get paid until the show airs.
Andrea!!! Bahaha!
Adriana - They also sign non-disclosure agreements, so there are certain things Food Network allows them to say or not say.
I loved that Ree had something positive to say about everything. She is the most complimentary critic
Yay Andrea! Sometimes I wonder if they realize how hard it really is to produce stuff.... Sometimes the judges seem like divas to me.....
Adriana Romero: What Nicole said! You respect The Network!
Funny, I didn't realize you got paid to go on the show. Nice!
You only get paid if you win (insert crazy eye emoji)
The three judges on my episode were honest, truthful and tough! I wouldn't say divas BUT, some truly aren't cookie decorators, so I think that contributes to their judging.
Sweet Scarlet Baking: Ree was SO SWEET
lol Only get money if you the winner😁
My two cents: I think they need a cookie decorator for a judge. I thought the judges were the weakest link, as I don't think most were equipped to evaluate your decorating. There - said it!
I only got paid with memories hahahhahaha
On my episode, Dan was giving me tips about royal icing and I had to just smile and keep myself from saying "REALLY?! REALLY?! You do realize I just made that in like 2 minutes, right?!" hahaha
Julia Usher for Judge!
Julia Said it! Ha!!!
Okay, all, I am going to ask you to hold off on posting any more questions so we can get through those I already have in the queue. I am also going to extend the chat another 15 minutes ('til 11:30 am) if that's all right with you all?
Yes Julia! They can’t evaluate well!
ah, thank you for clarifying, Nicole
Julia gets my vote for judge too!
WOOT woot! I Second that!
Yes, I second that, Julia for Judge!
We do need some more qualified folks to be cookie judges. it is way different than other competitions....
Julia, I agree. Since these were all cookie decorating challenges I think they should have a cookie decorator as a judge.
Whenever the casting agents call me asking me to promote the Challenges (as I've done for several years now), I ask them to put in my name with Food Network to be a judge . . . but they never do, or, if they do, Food Network ignores them! Oh, well . . .
I agree, it doesn't really showcase your true talents.
I thought the judges on our episode were great!
SECTION 4/THE AFTERMATH: What was the most valuable thing that you took away from this experience?
SWEET PRODIGY - Section 4/The Aftermath: The most valuable thing that I took away from this was the new friends. I'm close with my cast mates and I've also made some pretty awesome friends in the cookie community from other shows.
SWEET PRODIGY - Section 4/The Aftermath: I learned SO much in this process. Not just about competing and the interviewing process, but about me! I left the competition knowing how it all went. I knew what I had presented and the results. When I say that my final tree cookie haunted me for months, it literally did. I had nightmares about that stupid tree. During those months when nobody knew I competed, I worked through a ton of self evaluation. My biggest lesson I learned is that we literally are our own worst critics. Some people that know me KNEW how much that cookie irritated me while watching the episode. But, most people noticed that I handled minor catastrophes with ease and held my own while competing!
I loved my judges! Damiano was tough but truthful!! And Kimberly Bailey is a master at cakes...she truly did recognize icing decorating like no one else!
Anyone who makes cookies knows how impossible the challenges are under those time limits
Agreed, Nicole.
Andrea- I agree totally! Remember, most of these judges HAVE been in this kind of competitive arena before so they would know!
Aime, I did, too! I love Ree! Dan was actually very encouraging to me. Aarti was tough, but so funny!
Amy I think they are good but they’ve don’t have skills to judge cookie decorating
SWEET PRODIGY - SECTION 4/THE AFTERMATH: What was the most valuable thing that you took away from this experience? ANSWER: I solemnly swear to NEVER judge someone on a televised baking competition again! We have all been there, watching these shows, stuffing popcorn in our face from our couch and thinking "Please, I could have done better than that". In reality, it was one of the most difficult things I've ever done! Working in a kitchen you don't know, with unfamiliar tools (and missing tools), ON TELEVISION is harder than I can describe. That said, it was absolutely amazing and I would do it every day if I could!
And I loved that I ran into Damiano on the streets of NOLA, such a lovely person and made a point to tell me, he didn't win the competition he was in either
SWEET PRODIGY - SECTION 4/THE AFTERMATH: What was the most valuable thing that you took away from this experience? ANSWER: The Food Network was such an amazing experience for me. First, I really loved the friendships I forged. I’ve admired Aime, Andrea, Nicole & Julia from afar . . . So actually getting to know them and now being able to call them my friends is invaluable. Second, I really loved to see what I’m made of . . . like can I hang with the pros? At the time, I was still somewhat new to cookie decorating, so being able to compete and be considered on the same platform with my cookie idols helped boost my confidence. Lastly, ditto on what Aime said. I will NEVER judge someone on a televised baking competition again! My final cookie was a HOT mess, but I still wouldn’t trade it for anything. I loved the meaning behind why I chose my design.
Andrea- What a fun story! I didn't know that happened!
Okay, a LIVE Section 4 question. Heads up, everyone! It's a good one.
I know! We had a great talk that night about cookies and competing. I think he comes across as the tough one on the show, but he was so kind!
SECTION 4/THE AFTERMATH: How has the competition affected your business post showing? Increased popularity, sales, collabs?
Not sure what Kathy's comment relates to (sorry, I am up to my ears in trying to post questions and answers), but posting it now.
What doesn't push you OUT, pushes you UP!
Section 4: The aftermath has been an amazing ride for me! My local newspaper finally caught wind of me and then it got a little crazy! I was able to do the local news, local PBS station, radio show and more! Its been a blessing to me, and mind you, I didn't win the episode!
I live in a small town, so it helped my business tremendously
208bakes: Soooo many emails. People have been amazing.. just wanting to reach out and say congrats etc. I have had some fun filming opportunities since and lots of interest in decorating classes/lessons
And I'm not going to lie.....I had emails asking how I did my curly hair. Keeping it real. It isn't always about the cookies. LOL
Famous curls!
LOL
My sales are very good now!
Oops, I missed a Section 3 question from Illinois Pam, so backtracking to it now . . . you all may have already addressed this a bit, but if you have anything to add, please do . . .
SECTION 3/ COMPETING: Do you actually get to spend any social time with the judges, other than giving them your finished entries? That would definitely be worth the Chaos....
I mean that all you competitors seem to have been pushed UP in your skills, confidence, etc. or you wouldn't be doing this anymore!
The first show I was on (Great Holiday Baking Show on ABC) aired and within a year I opened a Brick and Mortar Bakery. One year from this episode and I want to open a chain ...joking
No quality time with judges! But, I did bump into Damiano and Kimberly on the streets late that night. It was a great time to just talk!
Thanks for the clarification, Kathy. Sorry for the delayed posting. New comments come in underneath those waiting to be posted, so it sometimes takes me a while to see them depending on what I'm doing at the time the comment comes in.
Illinois Pam: You don't spend time with the judges. After winning, I had to stay back for photo shoots with them so we chatted a bit during that process. Maybe 15-20 minutes of time, but then you're being whisked off to the next thing!
I received so many encouraging messages, was featured in a local paper, had a great write up at the bank I work for. Getting asked a lot if I will be hosting local classes, so I'm currently considering going that route!
I got invited to a Cakes show
Great to hear about all your post-show opportunities!
Lots of interviews with local paper and TV stations. It didn't stop for weeks. I think it's finally died down
Another Section 4 question from Illinois Pam . . .
SECTION 4/THE AFTERMATH: I've heard on other reality shows that it is actually better NOT to win, and be a runner up because winners have more restrictions and commitments. Is that the case with this competition?
Illinois Pam: I was pretty thrilled to win! So far nothing has come up that I haven't been able to do.
Pam: We all sign the same contract.
I would've loved to win! Ha! But like I said before, after watching my episode, I was completely content to not have won and had all the support I had!
NB: I am still aiming for us to wrap up at 11:30, since we've already gone over time, but we still have three questions yet to cover. Onward!
Next one from Illinois Pam . . .
SECTION 4/THE AFTERMATH: If you were invited back for Cookie Challenge 2018, what would you do differently? Any different preparation activities??
It was wonderful to see you all on tv!
It was! They made us all proud!
Sigh...I would do it again but really push myself to not lock myself into an idea. In that challenge, I got an idea and I literally had mental block that couldn't get out of it!
Ok this is also a bit funny- I was bummed I didn't even say my cookie name on national TV! I never realized I never said it, but they featured my first and last name. So, after the episode aired, I got some weird sketchy FB "friend" requests from men! Hahahha!
Illinois Pam: It's hard to say!
Arlene!! haha
JenniBakes4U: It was soooo fun watching everyone!
Pam: choose a simple design and rock it out. I spent so much time trying to figure out something that would wow them and didn't have much time for execution.
Chua cookie, this is silly, but is it pronounced Chew-a-Cookie?
Oh my godness when I lost I was so sad. The producer told me that she was sure I would get many e-mail and I did. I made sure to say my business name
208 Bakes- yes correct! I love puns!
Another non-Challenge question for you all . . .
I can't wait for Cookie Con in Indy this year! Hope to see many of you there! Are any of you going to offer classes?
I hunted each of you down on IG and tried to follow lol
I'll be at Cookie Con!!!
I won't, though I don't think you were talking to me I'll be in Patagonia teaching a course at the time of CookieCon. I hate to miss it; it's such a great event!
I want to go
I'll be at Cookie Con!!!
Me, too, 208Bakes. I watched all episodes on demand and kept pausing and rewinding and searching on Instagram and stalking the competitors during each episode.
We have a dinner date scheduled, right Arlene
Our second to last question is coming up . . .
SECTION 4/THE AFTERMATH: Have any of you - winners or non winners (although you are all winners for even getting on the show) - changed any of your overall policies?
Love that Sweet Scarlet and 208bakes!
ANDREA!!! Yasss girl!
I want to go to Cookie Con - but this Brick and Mortar life might not let me...lol
At JenniBakes4U, do you mean have they changed any of their business (or other?) policies as a result of being on the show?
Yes, I have changed policies! Ha!!! Such a crazy story... my episode showed Nativity cookies I did...and I had a ton of inquiries for them. I shipped one set as a gift to a "high profile" person.......I no longer ship. Turns out I aided their stalker. Yep....I should write a book on the crazy stories!
Oh no Andrea
Ooh, creepy, Andrea!
Yes
JenniBakes4U: I personally haven't made any changes to policies since the show. I am more picky about opportunities (ie: collaborations, bloggers etc) because I saw a LOT of that in the weeks following the airing.
Oh yeah.....Ha!!! Sometimes getting an order is not so good! Hey, made a great story!
JenniBakes4U: I don't ship anymore and I have a 2 dozen cookie minimum and I only allow 3 designs
No changes for me, but it has opened the door for possibly hosting local cookie decorating classes!
So, Nicole, is this because your demand is now so high that you can be more selective in the orders you take? If so, that's great!
Well it seems as if tv exposure has generally been positive
Yes, it does.
Hi Julia, not for posting, but had a thought about Cookie Con---would it be allowable to organize a swap or meet-up at cookie con for cookie connection members? Don't need to respond now, later is OK. We met at your class Wilton in Illinois. I sat up front. I am the IT project manager...
Julia, yes. The local demand grew so I stay booked with only local orders
My state doesn't allow me to ship which was actually a blessing! It was easy for me to just say that I can't ship
Illinois Pam! I am answering now if that's okay, as I may forget later. Yes, organizing a meet-up there would definitely be possible. Since I won't be there, I'm not the best person to organize it, but if you want to email me later (sweetlife@juliausher.com), we can discuss how this might happen. I think it's a really nice idea!
Nicole, have you shifted into more cookies and less cakes/ pastries s a result of the showing?
Once Nicole answers, we're moving onto our FINAL question in the queue! Thanks to everyone for hanging on so long, as I know you have other wonderful things to do!
208Bakes; During Christmas I did lots of cookies but I have a brick and mortar bakery so I always have to do lots of other things. Cookies take the most time of all the things we offer at the bakery so I have to keep my sweets balance...lol
Agree with Nicole on all she said, BTW. I had a bakery for ten years, and, if all I did was decorated cookies, I never would have lasted that long. High-margin wedding cakes were what saved me - easy to plan for too!
Okay, one more question from Jenni; then we need to move onto the last question.
SECTION 4/THE AFTERMATH: Have you found that your overall demand, advance orders, etc. have continued into the new year . . . or was it holiday only?
It’s Still going! I am not even going to attempt custom orders for Valentine’s Day because Christmas was just too crazy for me
Jenni- It hasn't slowed down at all. It gets a little overwhelming sometimes just trying to keep up. I can't image the bakers that ship!
No more new questions after this. We are already 30 minutes over and still have one wrap-up question to do. Thanks - the questions have been wonderful (the answers too), but I know our guests have busy weekends so I don't want to impose on them much longer!
I'm actually teaching a class in an hour!! ha!
Okay, the last question was asked by two people so posting both . . .
Jennibakes: For me it has. This January is on track to be much more profitable than last January. January is usually slow for bakeries (with all those folks starting diets...lol).
I have so much cookies to make it’s crazy! Lots of orders.
Well sort of - the questions, now that I really read them, are different, but go ahead and try to answer both . . .
SECTION 4/DEALING WITH THE AFTERMATH: I actually have a question for my fellow Featured Guests! We prepped, we flew to the set, we competed, we returned home. So much of that experience was left behind in that kitchen. Then, all of the sudden, months and months later, the episodes aired and we watched it all unfold. Do you feel like your episode painted a good picture of the actual experience?
SECTION 4/ THE AFTERMATH: Would you all do it again?
❤️👋 Thanks so much everyone!
THE PAINTED PASTRY - Section 4/Dealing with the Aftermath: Whew! It was such a strange transition from the excitement of being chosen to super secretive, then all of a sudden it's airing! It was a whirlwhind of emotions for me. I think in the end, the episode I competed in was a good representation. t is such a short episode that is aired, even though its such a long process for us. It showed personalities fairly well of myself and fellow competitors! As I mentioned in a previous question, my only "wish" would have been for more of the judging to be shown. My judging was not a great representation of my judging experience as a whole. BUT, I am okay with it. In the end, I was completely satisfied with not winning, and everyone I knew being so proud of me and what I did! I have said so many times to people that I would rather not win the competition and people think I deserved it, than the alternative!
Section 4/ DEALING WITH THE AFTERMATH: For my fellow featured guests....would you do it again? I've been asked that question so many times!!! I would personally, absolutely do it again! I had such an amazing time, met some fantastic people and made priceless memories. I would do it again, with the knowledge I now have!!
THE PAINTED PASTRY - SECTION 4/DEALING WITH THE AFTERMATH: Do you feel like your episode painted a good picture of the actual experience? ANSWER: Yasssss girl! Overall, I thought it was such a fun episode to watch (and not just because we were in it, lol)! I wish they could have showed ALL the antics! Well, except the cinnamon part . . . I didn’t know I hoarded all the cinnamon bwahaha! The baking arena is sooooo BIG, much larger than it looks on TV. Also, when you are so focused, you do not notice anything around you. I’m now referred to as the #cinnamonhoarder. I can live with that!
ANDREA WALTER - Section 4/ DEALING WITH THE AFTERMATH: For my fellow featured guests....would you do it again? ANSWER: In a heartbeat! I loved that I was able to meet Ree, The Pioneer Woman!
Kathy Pilato: I would! Moving forward, I don't see myself competing in this way again, but I loved the experience I had!
Thank you so much everyone for taking the time to answer my questions. Best of luck! And thank you, Julia for another great chat!
Thanks for always contributing so thoughtfully to our chats, Sweet Prodigy!
It has been great hearing what you all have to say about this experience!
I'd do it again. I realized that I love to compete.
Thank you to our featured guests, and to Julia! Nice job moderating!
Thanks, Illinois Pam - it was a challenge . . . just a few posting mishaps on my part!
What a great chat - see you at Cookie Con!
this was so imformative, thanks ladies for sharing
THank you, Julia, for organizing and moderating. You all were winners in my book! I have learned so much from each of you!!
Thanks everyone!
Amie I think they edited a few things that I say in a way to make me a “mean” person. I am not and they try to make like me and Kristine didn’t get along. But overall it was ok. I wish the year showed all the nice things that I was told by judges ...
So much fun! Thank you so much for the chat and all of the fabulous questions!
Yes, ladies, THANK YOU all for your candor and time! I really appreciate it, and I'm sure you've given future competitors (and non-competitors) plenty of food for thought!
And thanks to all attending for so many GREAT questions!
Don't compete against Nicole in kareoke, ever!
Thanks for giving us the inside scoop. I was so curious!
Thanks again to everyone for hanging on so long; it was a challenge to get through everything with so many featured guest and great questions, but WE DID IT!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
Thanks
This chat has ended.
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