What Would You Do If The Food Network Called You?

Business By CakeBurnOut Updated 17 Dec 2008 , 10:09am by sweetlayers

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CakeBurnOut Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 4:17am
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I have been contacted by the FN recently about participating in a Challenge. I am so nervous about it all that I was sick to my stomach for hours after the inital interview. I am both nervous and excited about it, and have some serious reservations.

I know they give you only several weeks notice so there is very little time to prepare. You don't often know much of the details until you get to the challenge.

I've never done a huge cake like those I see on the show and I am worried about that. How does a person prepare for such an experience? Where do you go to learn how to structure and build large cakes like that? I'm freaking out! It's an outstanding opportunity that would put my business on the map, but it's also quite frightening when you think of all that it involves - and the thought of possibly failing and making a fool of myself in front of millions of views, LOL. That worries me the least of all, but it's still something that's on my mind.

Has anyone here been contacted and gone through the process? I'd love to hear from you. Any suggestions??? HELP!!!!

79 replies
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nefgaby Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 4:33am
post #2 of 80

Wow, CONGRATULATIONS!!! It is time to celebrate! And don't sweat it, I'm sure that if the FN contacted you is because you must be good!! I'm sure you will do fine!!! Keep us updated, would love to see you on TV! icon_smile.gif

Congrats again!!!!

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laynie72 Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 4:36am
post #3 of 80

Congratulations !
I wish I could help you but I am afraid I am not sure how, I guess I would try to find a former contestant and maybe communicate with them but I have no idea about the rules...
I am sure that if you were contacted your cakes must be very cool, you should post some here and go for it !! icon_smile.gif

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DerrellC Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 4:36am
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Congratulations !!!!!! your work must be WAY above par to even be considered.Get a piece of paper ,on one side write"good points" on the other side write "bad points" then list everything the national exposer could do to help or hurt you. and PRAY !!!!!!!! As for me, I would run away as fast as I could,I screw up enough without all the added pressure !! LOL. good luck ,no matter which way you end up going.

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CoutureCake Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 4:37am
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As soon as I'd hang up the phone I'd be on another line saying "Hello, AUI, Betty, Land O Lakes, will you sponsor me???" It's expensive to enter a challenge, no one mentiones ahead of time that the cost of things is going to come from your pocket.

A friend did a challenge a few years back now (and another did the sugar cube stacking but that had the deck stacked against them because the building is vibration city because the roller coaster is hooked into the supports of the building to absorb the shock from it by design).. They will send out a list of rules ahead of time that you need to know and follow. The more cake (or cereal treats, whatever the medium is) you can use for the challenge the better your chances are. The same goes for putting a clean and finished showpiece on the table (FINISHED being the key word, this week's challenge emphasises that part it was a choice between technically superior and finished, they chose finished for the 10K).

Practice Practice Practice!!! Give yourself HALF of the time they are going to give you for the challenge AND crank the heat up (practice in a room that is at least 79-83 degrees or borrow some halogen lights from the redneck neighbor up the road)!!! If you normally use an all butter icing, use all shortening to give yourself some heat tolerance. The heat is what eats almost every showpiece that takes a dive, the rest is culinary knowledge with basic mistakes like not proper. The more times you practice the piece the better off you're going to be because you can adjust for any problems that might come up easier. A cake that you've made 3-4x is going to be far easier to make a 5th than a piece you've never done in completion before..

The only way to make a fool of yourself in front of everyone is to do what the chick with the vertical bridge did this week on Challenge or quit half way through regardless of the disaster... Know your mediums and how to fix problems. Have some isomalt "just in case"... Have fun, but don't interrupt other people's work and concentration. The thing is, after you get started working you'll pretty much forget the cameras are there unless someone comes up to you and starts asking questions. Just remember not to say anything negative about your competitors even when prodded by producers!!!! Practice giving soundbites (short sentences that don't need to be edited but information packed so they get out of your face and leave you alone)..

Finally, the showpieces aren't as big as they seem on TV.. There's the old saying "TV adds 10 pounds"... Yes, the showpieces are sizable OTOH, you can get creative to reach that size. Also, a trip or two to the gym to get into shape for moving the showpiece will help. When you make your stand make it with the thought in mind of having to move the thing. Put either handles, chair gliders, or can't remember who it was, they made the showpiece stand into a lazy susan so that they could turn it to work on it without disturbing the piece.

I'd say if you've got the opportunity, go for it!!!! There are many in the industry who would give just about anything to compete in Challenge...

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Sugarflowers Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 4:41am
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CONGRATULATIONS!! I would so love to be asked.

Once they let you know the theme, design the cake and then practice, practice, practice. The ones that win more often are the ones that did practice runs.

Try to make your design elements striking but not time consuming. Too many elements can stress you and cost you time. A piece that follows all of the rules, is clean, and complete will have the best chance of winning.

Great luck to you! I hope you win!


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CakeForte Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 5:44am
post #7 of 80

I think you should go for it as it's a very rare opportunity and you would probably have regrets about not doing than doing it a making a fool.

Although I don't think that would happen because that means you would have to be WORSE than the girl that was on there this week. She is what my friends and I refer to as "A Hot Mess!!" icon_eek.gif

Plus they came to you, so you'll find a way to make it work if you decide to go.

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CoutureCake Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 5:52am
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Originally Posted by CakeForte

Although I don't think that would happen because that means you would have to be WORSE than the girl that was on there this week. icon_eek.gif

icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif I'm pretty open with things and knowing what we're seeing isn't necessarily how everything happened... I mean I had a good laugh the time that Mike McCarey finished early and worked the audience for a while and thought he was entirely appropriate in how he got them laughing without really going up and interrupting others who were still finishing their pieces even though he got reprimanded a little on it... But that chick this week, it honestly came across like she was high on something or one too many Xanax... For some reason I don't think she'll be attending too many more Challenges after that performance... Granted, I wasn't there to see what she did live, but still, it came off like she was not only on drugs but wasn't prepared (O.k. no one would put a 6-7' showpiece on a 6" wide stand even if it was perfectly centered or not practice the showpiece at all to be able to execute it).. Yea, that one didn't even make the fall on your sword, stand up, and take a bow with grace and dignity....

I agree though, will take a LOT to overcome a performance like that one!!

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sweetbn Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 10:36am
post #9 of 80

Such an amazing opportunity, congrats!! Obviously you demonstrate some serious talent, good luck with all your preparations. Let us know when we need to tune in icon_smile.gif

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mausman Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 11:14am
post #10 of 80

hey its a great oppurtunity go for it and if u can then do upload its videos over here best of luck thumbs_up.gif

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Eisskween Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 11:17am
post #11 of 80

Congratulations! That would be one of the absolute highest compliments I could think of! Good luck to you and let us know when it airs so we can watch you win! Remember, you are amazing, you have to be if they called you!

Congratulations again and have a fabulous day! Time to crack a bottle of champagne and have a Mimosa! icon_biggrin.gif

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jaxmom Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 11:27am
post #12 of 80

I think I'd pee my pants!!!!

Good luck - can't wait to see you on TV!!!!

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alidpayne Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 11:33am
post #13 of 80

There is no way I would turn an opportunity like that down. GO FOR IT! Like others have said, just do your best and don't act a fool, and if your cake falls or turns out bad America will still love you, maybe even more, cause they love the underdog.

If you pass this opportunity up you will kick yourself for the rest of your life.

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jessfmaldonado Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 11:42am
post #14 of 80

Congratulations To YOU!!!!!!!!!!! I say take a deep breath, close your eyes, and.......DO THE HAPPY DANCE!!!!!

Then get practicing!!!!! Ohhhhh Cant wait to see you on the challenge!!

Jessica icon_biggrin.gifthumbs_up.gificon_smile.gif

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robinscakes Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 11:42am
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Congratulations! I wish you the best. As for me, I'd say NO, but my boss would try to make me say YES. He wants to be on Food Network. I have no desire to be on TV WHATSOEVER!!! I am also the least competitive person on the planet. You should see me at a 4-way intersection...I let 5 or 6 cars go before me just so that I don't feel pushy! In fact, a local paper is doing story on me that will come out in Thursday's paper and I'm already having nightmares about it! I just DO NOT like attention. I like to hang out in the back of my bakery, away from the customers and the public eye, and just do my thing by myself. I guess I'm a hermit or something?!?! As long as you're okay with being on TV, I'd say go for it. Imagine the publicity for your bakery!!!

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loriemoms Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 11:45am
post #16 of 80

I agree with everything that was said...Practice under HOT lights, and make sure you finish your peice in half the time they give you. Don't go too crazy and do stuff you know well and know how it reacts to heat, and humidity. Get a really good partner who I always call a Good Bridge partner...Someone who can read your mind and see what is in your hand without looking. You know what I mean? I understand also it takes a LOT of money to do this, so make sure you do have a backing. And if you can afford the time, drive with your stuff instead of trying to ship it..and if you do ship it, use a really good courier service!

As far as the girl on the bridge challenge...I know they always try to go with someone a little off to add some entertainment value, but OMG, what was with that gal? I thought Kerry Vincent was very well behaved, as you could tell she was pissed that this gal was really making fun of the whole thing. And why didn't they stop her from going to other people's booth? Especailly since the guy she visited didn't finish and it cost him the win. That was an odd challenge!

Good luck and let us know when you will be on! I would love to see some of your work..do you have a web site?

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costumeczar Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 11:58am
post #17 of 80

They called me a couple of years ago and I said no...I work on my own, so I don't have a ton of assistants to run my business while I'm practicing and doing the challenge, and I also don't need the stress. I'd just recommend what everyone else said, if you decide to do it just practice and get everything in place so you're not scrambling around. The stress of trying to make a huge piece while they have cameras shoved in your face is going to be about ten times worse than you think, so make sure you can do your cake in way less time, and you'll be fine when you have the whole time to do it.

Also remember that they always have someone they try to identify as "the unknown" who's never done a challenge before, and they'll be paying extra attention to you because of it. As long as you're aware of that it won't be as irritating..I'm not trying to be negative, just realistic. Good luck if you decide to do this!

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pastryjen Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 12:04pm
post #18 of 80

Wow, congratulations. As everyone else mentioned, they didn't just pull your name out of a hat. They like what they see.

Keep us posted.

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costumeczar Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 12:05pm
post #19 of 80

I also wanted to add that I know a couple of people who have either shot segments for the wedding planning shows, or who have been asked to do them but turned them down. They all said that the production people told them they were looking for weddings that were going to have "high drama," (meaning lots of problems.) One person went ahead and did it, but I don't think they showed the segment at all because nothing went wrong. The other told them that she didn't do "drama," so she passed on their offer to be on the show.

I'm sure that the food network people are also looking for drama, so watch out. I thought the person who came off the worst on the city skylines challenge was the woman from New York who had the problem with the cakes not being shipped in time. The reason she came off as badly as she did was that they showed the interview with her where she was saying "I watch the challenges and say I can do that, and we're going to blow them away" etc etc. Then she had to work with cakes that were too soft and her buildings just didn't work as a result, but they made her out to be cocky about it in the first place. Of course once you say something like that they're going to be waiting for you to screw up, so watch what you say on camera!

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Susie53 Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 12:07pm
post #20 of 80

Congratulations! Your cakes must be AMAZING for Food Network to come calling, I'd love to see pictures of your cakes. If you do decide to take the challenge, I will be rooting for you!

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twooten173 Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 12:07pm
post #21 of 80

Congratulations!!!! You must let us all know when you are going to be on. I can't wait. I'm so excited for you!

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loriemoms Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 12:10pm
post #22 of 80

I NEVER understand why they say "I am giong to win this hands down" and things like that. Don't they know they just set themselves up? Say things like "I am going to do the best I can and still have fun!" and things like that..at least it makes it look like you enjoy your work.

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GeminiRJ Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 12:19pm
post #23 of 80

Part of me is green with envy, and part of me would be running for the hills if FN ever contacted me. (No problem there!) Don't let your fears rule you. Be honest with what you think you can do, and if you think you can do this, GO FOR IT! And keep us updated!

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PaulaT Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 12:30pm
post #24 of 80

Wow - first of all congratulations.
I'd be so excited and of course nervous but they wouldn't have called you if they didn't think you could do it. Sure you can. Just get all your "ducks in a row", practice and get as organized as you can. What a fabulous opportunity. Even if you didn't win the challenge it would be something you'll always remember and be able to tell all your family and friends. Think about all the positives - no negatives here and so much fun!!! Gosh - I thinks it's just fantastic. Good luck to you. You go girl!!! thumbs_up.gif

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mjballinger Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 12:34pm
post #25 of 80

First off Congratulations!! That's a very exciting honor, you must be awesome!
As to what I'd do if they called me? I'd do what I always do when I am incredibly nervous........I'd throw up. Which is a large part of why I don't do this for money, lol.
Please let us know when you find out when you'll be on so we can tune in!

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bethola Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 12:43pm
post #26 of 80

DEFINITELY let us know when you are going to be on! I agree with the others about the lights and might add humidity. But, at this time of year humidity probably won't be a problem. This is so exciting!

Oh yeah, and if they called ME...uhhhh I call my friend, Donna and say "That is NOT a funny joke"! LOL


Beth in KY

PS I got to see a Challenge live in Nashville. It was for charity. Pretty much nothing MAJOR happened. They were using Country Music Stars as their assistants which was a HOOT! OH! and I got to sit on the FRONT ROW next to the Producer! How cool is that?

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CakesByJen2 Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 12:53pm
post #27 of 80

Congratulations! If they called me, first I'd be thrilled and totally flattered beyond belief, but I would politely decline. I absolutely could not take the stress and drama. I don't mind working with an audience, but I absolutely cannot function under such time constrainsts. I am VERY slow at anything I do, and if I'm pushed to go faster, I just start to make lots of mistakes and gest flustered. Also, I don't think I could take it physically, being on my feet for 6-8 hours with no bathroom breaks under hot lights.

But if one did decide to do it, I think the key is preparation and practice. I know some people prefer to "go big or go home", but I think I'd tend to play it safe and do something I really knew I'd be able to finish and do well in (less than) the time allowed for the first challenge. I'm always shocked at the people who say they didn't practice; they always have problems.

Good luck with your decision, and if you decide to go for it be sure to let us know when it will air!

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CreationsByCaryl Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 12:56pm
post #28 of 80

First off Congratulations! You have lovely work.

Second - and this is only my opinion- don't bother blasting me for it readers, it's not changing- I wouldn't touch a food network challenge show with a teflon coated stick, especially lately.

The challenges are out of hand- nearly impossible, which forces inferior or incomplete work to be presented to judges who not only demand perfection, but will let you know it.

The FN pattern is to get three previous challenge participants, sometimes including a previous winner, and one -what my sister calls- a "red shirt". New blood to the show, who in their own right is talented, but cannot hold up under the lights, pressure, and stresses of either filming or the challenge.

Depending on the editing room you either coming out smelling like roses or are thrown under the bus.

The time and money it takes to practice, and the stress it puts upon competitors is a personal thing. PERSONALLY I wouldn't take that away from my family, budget, and regular customers.

To me, it's just not worth saying yes to them.

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DaCakeDiva Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 1:00pm
post #29 of 80

Congrats 2 U!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I would but in hiding already if they called me. Go ahead and give 'em one for all of us at CC. Please let us know when you'll be on so I can tell my husband "HEY I KNOW HER"!!!!!!!!!!

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DaCakeDiva Posted 22 Oct 2008 , 1:04pm
post #30 of 80

CoutureCake are you sure it was your friend that did the challenge you sound like you have been there and done that. C'mon tell us the truth.

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