By: Delaney Geraghty
It’s that point of 12 months once more. The climate’s getting colder, Thanksgiving is correct across the nook and the Christmas decorations are beginning to seem. For a lot of, it’s the time of 12 months for sitting across the hearth watching specials corresponding to “Rudolph the Purple-Nosed Reindeer,” or perhaps a festive baking present. This 12 months, just a few Triad locals received’t simply be watching such a baking present – they’ll be the celebs.
Bakers from To Your Well being Bakery, positioned in Winston-Salem, and Baked Downtown, positioned in Greensboro, shall be making their option to the small display this vacation season on Hallmark Drama and Netflix, respectively.
The top baker and founding father of To Your Well being Bakery, Anna Simeonides, shall be featured in Hallmark Drama’s “Christmas Cookie Matchup,” a baking competitors sequence. Based on the present’s web site, “Hallmark Drama’s first-ever baking competitors will convey collectively America’s most gifted residence bakers alongside the forged of ‘When Calls the Coronary heart’ to face off in a brand new cookie baking problem.”
Based mostly in Winston-Salem, To Your Well being Bakery focuses on gluten-free, allergy-friendly and vegan baked items. Their components are all-natural with no preservatives or corn syrups, and so they supply keto and paleo choices, however orders could be personalized and made with no restrictions as properly.
“We at all times had been a pure bakery, however we weren’t 100% gluten-free once we first began out,” Simeonides mentioned.
Over time, the bakery developed into the specialty store it’s right now, following the desires of the purchasers.
“My little brother was born with a variety of allergic reactions, and so we understood the significance of unpolluted and wholesome consuming,” mentioned Simeonides, who, by making ready meals for her youthful brother rising up, discovered the complexities of cooking and baking for somebody with intensive meals allergic reactions. “There was such a necessity for an allergy-friendly bakery.”
Simeonides, a Hallmark fanatic, determined to use for the baking competitors after discovering a casting name on-line.
“Anybody who is aware of me is aware of that I’m a primary Hallmark fan, and I like baking,” she mentioned, including that a few of her Fb pals tagged her in a submit promoting the present.
Simeonides defined how she needed to submit a video of herself as a part of the appliance course of. In her video, she detailed her love for Christmas, her ugly sweater assortment, her baking, her vacation traditions, her favourite Hallmark films and even sang Christmas carols.
After getting a callback and securing a spot, Simeonides headed out to Los Angeles to movie the present over a interval of about eight days. The present is an elimination competitors, with six bakers competing in two challenges every day for a grand prize of $25,000.
Two judges preside over the challenges, and on the finish of every day, one baker is shipped residence. The present has 5 elements, and every week main as much as Christmas, one other episode will premiere on the Hallmark Drama channel.
For Simeonides, probably the most difficult facet of the competitors was the psychological exhaustion and the stress she placed on herself, but competing was one of the rewarding experiences of her life.
“I positively am the form of particular person to, like, psych myself out. But it surely was so superb that basically there was no downside aside from that,” she mentioned. “I actually really feel like I soaked up each single second of it.”
Simeonides mentioned that solely Hallmark might forge true friendships out of a baking competitors.
“All the rivals walked away completely loving one another,” she mentioned, including that everybody who labored on the present, from producers to administrators, to make-up artists, had “that spirit of Hallmark in them.”
The primary episode of “Christmas Cookie Matchup” premiered on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 9 p.m. on Hallmark Drama. A brand new episode runs every following Wednesday night time.
However To Your Well being Bakery isn’t the one Triad candy spot hitting the small display. The Greensboro-based bakery, Baked Downtown, is about to be featured in an episode of “Sugar Rush Christmas,” a vacation version of the Netflix authentic baking competitors sequence that first premiered in 2018. Based on the Netflix web site, “Sugar Rush Christmas” is “all the things you like about ‘Sugar Rush’ – with a holly jolly vacation twist – on this Christmas-themed spin on aggressive baking.”
Baked Downtown started in proprietor Taylor Inman’s residence kitchen below the identify For Goodness Cake. Because the enterprise expanded, Inman, previously a dental assistant, was in a position to give up her job and transfer the operation into a store in downtown Greensboro, altering the identify to Baked Downtown to keep away from confusion with one other bakery based mostly in Charlotte.
Although the enterprise has moved on up from Inman’s kitchen, the one workers are Inman herself and one different particular person, and so they’ve tailor-made Baked Downtown to deal with distinctive creations. “We focus on uncommon truffles, like gravity-defying truffles, or truffles with waterfalls in them,” Inman mentioned.
Whereas merchandising at a farmer’s market in the future, Inman acquired a name from Netflix inviting her to use for a baking competitors T.V. present.
“They discovered our Instagram and had by no means had any rivals from North Carolina,” she mentioned, including that the decision led to an utility course of and a sequence of intensive video chat interviews.
“They had been very nerve-wracking,” mentioned Inman, recounting how the interviews occurred over a number of rounds with varied Netflix producers and personnel. “We ended up doing three totally different video chat interviews in our kitchen at residence, after which as soon as we bought there, there was much more. We had tons of interviews.”
And this new journey for Baked Downtown has been a very long time coming. Inman mentioned she first acquired a name in October 2018, was notified they’d been forged in December 2018, and filmed the present in February 2019. “The phrase is FINALLY out!!!” learn Baked Downtown’s October 2019 Fb submit that first introduced their participation within the sequence.
Inman chosen Frances Kreilick, a buddy from the dentist’s workplace, to compete on the present together with her.
“Once I was out of my residence with For Goodness Cake, she got here and helped me in the course of the main holidays once I would get behind,” mentioned Inman of Kreilick. “So she was my, my first alternative.”
Filming started just a few hours after Inman and Kreilick arrived in Los Angeles. Inman mentioned the taping of each the competitors and the rivals’ on-screen interviews occurred over the course of three days and added as much as round 19 hours of taking pictures.
Like “Christmas Cookie Matchup,” “Sugar Rush Christmas” can be an elimination competitors, however with a a lot sooner turnaround. 4 groups of two bakers face off in three totally different challenges, and a group is eradicated after every spherical. The final two groups remaining go head-to-head within the closing spherical for a grand prize of $10,000.
As gleaned from the identify, the defining attribute of “Sugar Rush Christmas” is the extraordinarily fast-paced nature of the competitors. For the primary and second rounds, the bakers had a mixed complete of solely two hours – any leftover time they’d within the first spherical, they might use within the second. They’d solely 4 hours for the ultimate (and most daunting) problem.
“It was absolute madness,” Inman mentioned of the competitors. “The clock, I feel it ticks away at 3 times its regular fee.”
Although she’s used to working below time constraints, the kitchen’s home equipment, instruments and set-up had been utterly totally different from the kitchen that she’s used to working in. This distinction, coupled with the brief bake occasions, was probably the most difficult facet for Inman.
“Actually, the worst a part of the entire thing was simply not understanding the place something was,” Inman mentioned. “All of your measuring cups are somewhere else, your components are in a separate space and also you shared a fridge and glass chiller with one other competing group.”
Though the competitors actually induced some stress, Inman and her teammate bonded with the opposite rivals, bakers who hailed from Maryland, Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania.
“We met some completely unbelievable individuals, between the producers, the opposite bakers, the opposite rivals. We nonetheless communicate with all the different rivals,” mentioned Inman, including that one of many bakers from Maryland is even coming to go to Greensboro quickly.
“Watch it and don’t choose too onerous,” Inman laughed. “Sugar Rush Christmas” is out there to stream on Netflix starting Nov. 29.