Being a guest judge on the Food Network series Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown has been SO. MUCH. FUN! It’s ironic that I’m a person who doesn’t prefer to be in the kitchen (and wouldn’t have the time if I did). Nevertheless, creatives easily connect with other creatives, and that was my experience with Kardea, Nacho, and all of the amazing bakers and “gingerbreaders.” Regardless of culinary skills, there were so many other ways in which we were all alike. What’s more, there were several great take-aways from this particular episode, the show’s season finale. Here are just a few tokens of wisdom that resonated with me.

Host Jesse Palmer and Judges Kardea Brown, Nacho Aguirre and Breegan Jane, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship Gingerbread Showdown, Season 1.

In Baking and Business: Just Do It!

One of the things that I appreciate most about this week’s contestants is their courageous spirit! Their backstories were just as interesting as their work in the Food Network kitchen. Maryann, a software developer, simply decided one year to enter a gingerbread competition. While she admitted her first attempt wasn’t that great, she realized she improved with time. 13 years later, she was good enough to be featured on the show! Sireena’s story was very similar. She worked in a hotel that wanted to have a gingerbread house in the entrance of the hotel, and she volunteered to create it! The houses continued to get better and better! 20 years later, Sireena is showcasing her baking skills on national TV. 

I loved hearing these stories from the contestants because it reminds me so much of my industry. I’m asked all the time my best advice for budding and aspiring designers. Without fail, my answer is, “JUST DO IT!” Literally go out and do whatever it is you want to do. Get some training, learn about what it is you want to do, and don’t think about it any more. In many cases I think people talk themselves out of going into interior design because the profession seems daunting. Well, it can be, but you’ll never know if you don’t attempt it. I know I’m a better designer because I chose to do what my heart wanted, and I believe these bakers are, too!

Judge Breegan Jane, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship Gingerbread Showdown, Season 1.

Taking Chances – Try it; you might like it!

Though this week’s Food Network focus was all about the “gnomies,” the baking twist in this episode introduced the spice cardamom into the bakers’ baskets. Cardamom, a relative of ginger and turmeric, was new for many of the contestants this week, but they all decided to give it a go. Natasha created a cardamom gingerbread white chocolate cranberry pudding! Talk about complex flavors! Jennifer’s team used the cardamom with a lemon drizzle over homemade cookies, and they looked (and tasted) amazing. The cookies were used as steps in the overall design, and they looked great. 


Judges Kardea Brown, Nacho Aguirrea and Breegan Jane, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship Gingerbread Showdown, Season 1.

When I think about the baking twist this week, I realize how challenging it may have been for some of the contestants. As I look to create innovative spaces for my clients, I often have to do some general convincing with each build. When it comes to colors or patterns, clients tend to want to play it safe and go with what they know. But where’s the fun in that?? You can have fun with color in ways that aren’t permanent. 

That’s not to say you have to opt for hot pink tiles in the bathroom, however! Instead, you can use a bold-patterned rug in your living space that can be removed when you’re no longer in love with it. It’s a small way I work with clients to take risks and enjoy the home renovation process! Who knows what you may come up with? Being willing to take a chance is one of the keys to tapping into one’s greatness. It’s what I saw with these designers and their gingerbread creations. Nothing but amazingness can come from that kind of audacity.

Judge Breegan Jane checks in on Meg, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship Gingerbread Showdown, Season 1.

Attitude is Everything

If I know one thing about life, it’s this: Murphy’s Law is ALWAYS in effect. This week’s show was focused on gnomes, but the contestants all shared a focus on making very intricate gingerbread scenes. The challenge is, details require a lot of attention, and that can get lost in the hustle of creating if you’re not careful.

Such was the case with Maryann’s assistant Meg, who accidentally knocked over their very delicate mailbox pole. They didn’t have extra material as backup, so she had to fix it! Instead of getting flustered, she simply told Meg to try to fix it…and kept working. Had she lost her cool, things wouldn’t have gone as well as they ultimately did. Sireena had a similar incident while creating her “Holiday Forest Gnomies” scene. She accidentally broke several leaves made out of fragile isomalt, and there was absolutely no time to start over. Her positive attitude helped her rebound quickly, and she was able to repair the damage and continue creating.

I realized early on as a designer that making plans is a great idea, but I should always prepare to throw those plans in the can. Things go awry often. The question is, how do you deal with unforeseen challenges that come your way? I’ve learned to anticipate them and have Plan B’s for everything. If Plan B happens to fail, I know life isn’t going to end. As cliché as it sounds, your attitude about your endeavor determines your altitude. It’s true in design, and this episode proved it’s also true in gingerbread baking.

Host Jesse Palmer and judges Breegan Jane, Nacho Aguirre and Kardea Brown discuss the work of Sireena and Natasha, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship Gingerbread Showdown, Season 1.

Gingerbread Geniuses!

I’m so glad I got a chance to participate in this season of the Food Network Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown. The contestants were all masters of their crafts, and they helped spark more creativity in me as I continue my journey as an interior designer. Did you have a favorite episode? A favorite gingerbread scene? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments!


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