If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering why LaughingPlace is reviewing a Food Network show. Incidentally, that show is called The Holiday Baking Championship and this is The Great Holiday Baking Show — totally different. The new competition series premiered last night on ABC and will run on Monday nights at 10 p.m. for the next three weeks (for four episodes including last night’s).
The Great Holiday Baking Show stars hosts Nia Vardalos of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame and Ian Gomez from Cougar Town who are actually married IRL (who knew?!). While being fun and entertaining, neither one is quite qualified to judge a culinary competition. That’s why they’re joined by judges Johnny Iuzzini and Mary Berry. You might also be aware that Berry judges a show titled The Great British Bake Off on which this show is a based.
To start the first episode, six amateur bakers gather for three rounds of competition that will test their baking chops. Their first task is to create two batches of cookies; one being a frosted treat and the other being a family recipe. While the bakers are hard at work, we peek in on their progress as we also flashback to their home life and get a better idea who each contestant is.
Next up is the technical challenge which surprises the cooks with a recipe they are to execute to the best of their ability. This is where things get a bit more interesting. Some of the contestants are clearly going in blind, doing their best to make sense of the directions, while others are more familiar with the requested item and have a leg up on producing it. Additionally, just as the contestants didn’t know what they were baking ahead of time, the judges taste the results without knowing who created each.
Finally, the last test of the evening — dubbed The Showstopper round — gave the bakers a chance to display their creativity and decorating abilities. Over the course of five hours, each contestant had to create a gingerbread structure (I’d say “house” but I believe only one actually was) that had a story or theme. Of course, while each entry had to look good, it also had to taste good. This round demonstrated some truly remarkable skill and highlighted some amazingly clever ideas that definitely won me over.
Alas, with three rounds of work to consider, it was time to bid adieu to one contestant. Clearly I won’t spoil who that was or who was awarded the title of “Star Baker” for the evening. It’s pretty safe to assume the same format will follow for the next couple of episodes before the finale, but I’m not privy to that information.
There’s not really a whole lot to say in terms of reviewing The Great Holiday Baking Show. It’s a baking show, so if you like baking show’s you’ll probably like this baking show. I’ll admit I did find it slightly strange that we didn’t know anything about the six contestants before they were already into their first assignment (I was thinking more Master Chef than Cupcake Wars), but it makes sense given the limited series aspect. However, I really enjoyed the variety of challenges on the show and hope it produces some entertaining results in the subsequent editions.
Overall The Great Holiday Baking Show is great holiday fun and, perhaps, the start of a new winter tradition for ABC.
The Great Holiday Baking Show airs Monday this December at 10 p.m. on ABC.