I'm a bit obsessed with reality TV shows. Ever since survivor came on the scene I can't get enough. In fact, if you ask me, Survivor could also be credited as one of the first cooking competition show. Think about it, they have minimal ingredients and resources and they must get creative and cook a meal that will help them survive. It may not be pretty, or even delicious, but whoever made the more substantial meal became stronger, won challenges and lasted longer! Chopped who?
If you turn on the food network you will find that half of the shows are some sort of baking or cooking competition. I personally love them. I always envision what I would make in those situations or how I would handle the pressure.
Back in January I saw a post stating that CBC was now accepting applications for Canadian home bakers to compete on the Great Canadian Baking show season 3! I had only seen season 2 but I was in love. I needed to be in that tent. So I applied and waited. Literally a couple days later I get a phone call from one of the producers. If you ask me I totally bombed that interview. I was so caught off guard and nervous that I probably sounded like I knew nothing. But surprise, I received an email at the end of February inviting me to their Live auditions in Toronto!
If you never seen the show this is how it works. Much like the British version, each week has a different theme, cake week, bread week, pastry week etc. In each episode there are 3 challenges, the Signature Bake, the Technical Bake, and the Showstopper. Every week someone is eliminated until there is only 1.
For the audition we were asked to bring a signature bake. Something that is unique to us. My most requested dessert, something that reflected who I was as a Baker. While there we were going to take part in a technical bake. We all had to choose a station. Once they said the famous words, 'Ready, Set, Bake!'we were to uncover our mixing bowls and recipes. The trick to this recipe was there were no directions. Just a list of ingredients and were instructed to make 12 biscuits and have them in the oven in under 10 minutes. I have never made biscuits from scratch but it didn't take long to figure it out. While we were baking, producers were walking around with cameras, interviewing each Baker.
In Toronto alone there were 6 rounds of 18 auditions. I was in the first group on the second day. While that was going on, there were professional chefs walking around tasting and critiquing each person's signature bake.
I was so torn about what to make. Cake is my thing, but I didn't want to just bring a cake. Then I thought about how many people enjoy my macarons. But again I didn't want to just bring macarons. I decided to do some research to see what I could figure out about the audition process. I found two blogs online that talked about their personal auditions. One of them mentioned that you should always air on the side of over the top. Bring something flashy to catch their attention. So I decided to do both cake and macarons. I looked at this as the opportunity to try a design I normally cant try. Since I am not open for business I find it hard to practice. I can't just make a cake all the time only for us to consume, or when I do have friends and family reach out, I have to design the cake to their preferences. This was my chance to make something the way I wanted and have it reflect who I was as a Baker and person. I decided to make a pink flamingo cake, with chocolate wings and painted macarons on top. The cake was chocolate because it's my favorite. I made a cookie butter buttercream for the center, sprinkled skor bits on top and then drizzled it will homemade salted caramel sauce. Then covered the cake in regular vanilla buttercream. The macarons were butterscotch with a cookie butter buttercream center. Flavor wise it was delicious. Check. Now on to decorations. I covered it in pink buttercream with a pink and green sprinkle mix on the bottom. It was a bottle of sprinkles that I bought at Christmas. If you look close you will see small green Christmas trees shhhhh lol. I used my airbrush to give it more definition. I then used candy melts to make the feathers. I put a small spoonful of the melted chocolate onto parchment paper and spread it with a paint brush and let dry. I then stuck them in the cake. Finally I used pink and black fondant to make the neck. Tip. If you are going to make a delicate topper that needs to stand straight up, don't use straight fondant. Try something that will harden more, like gum paste. Why? Cause my fondant head snapped....twice! Thankfully it was after pictures etc.
I then placed my macarons on top and I was all set. I kept the head off until I arrived at the culinary school where the auditions were held.
My audition was Sunday morning at 930 AM at a culinary school in Toronto. It was also daylight savings time, so I was exhausted when I showed up. I was actually the first one there. I walked in, registered and then was escorted to a room where I could set up and plate my dessert, take some pictures and then wait until everyone else arrived. Once everyone was there we went back into the kitchen where they explained what to expect that morning.
One of the cool things that morning that was only being done at the Toronto auditions was a visit from the shows sketch artist Kenna. She is the one who sketches each dessert when they introduce what each Baker is making. She was going to go through and pick one dessert and sketch it. The winner got to keep the sketch.
While we were waiting to have our desserts tasted some bakers were asked to do a second interview. I thought it was very hopeful when I was asked to do a second audition. We went to a separate room with a camera and was given a microphone. This was a more formal interview, not like the one that was taking place in the kitchen. It was longer and more thorough. Once that was done I was one of the final people to have my dessert tasted. He loved my design. They even took a video of me cutting out a slice. He was surprised at how moist my chocolate cake was and loved the original flavors of the cookie butter. He asked me how my macarons were and I was a bit arrogant and said they are amazing. He picked one up and said 'they are hallow'. I was deflated. However he said they were still delicious and chewy.
And that was it. We finished the morning by sitting around the table tasting everyone's desserts. They were all so delicious. So much sugar though lol I only tasted a few cause it was a sugar overload for me. They thanked us for our time, explained we would hear back by mid April and announced who won the Sketch by Kenna.
Winner was....ME! I was SO excited. It was an incredible morning. One I will never forget. I was so proud of how I preformed and wouldn't change a thing! I didn't get chosen this year, but that's okay. I will try again next year. I don't think I could have done anything different. The mom spot is a tough one to land, so I will practice this year and go back again next year!
(sketch was done after the first flamingo neck break! lol)