What I learned from baking competition shows

You might already know this, but I freaking love cooking competition shows. Right now I’m marathoning the Spring Baking Competition and I am loving every second of it! I also watched every single episode of the Christmas competition. Of course, the Halloween competition is my all time favorite.

I know, this seems like a silly time-wasting show. And for the most part, it is. That’s kind of why I watch it, to be honest. You don’t have to be productive all the time to justify your existence. I’m trying to instill that in myself.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t lessons to be learned from these baking shows. There are lessons to learn from everything in life if you’re willing to learn them. So, here are nine things I’ve learned from baking competition shows.

Manage your time

The number one reason why someone on these baking shows fails, and fail miserably, is that they don’t manage their time well. The cakes aren’t ready, the whipped element needs more whipping, the ice cream didn’t freeze enough.

Honestly, the competitor’s surprise at the time constraints always confuses me. What, you have an hour to make a three-tier cake? Don’t you usually have forty minutes to get dressed, walk two dogs, pick up the house, water the plants, get meat out to defrost, walk two dogs again, feed the dogs and the cat, read your emails and maybe eat something? That can’t just be me.

Proper time management is essential for every single one of you reading this. Now, I’m not going to go over all of the different ways to manage your time. There are more posts about time management than anyone really has the time to read (ironically). Find what works for you and roll with it.

Be all you

You are you, that is truer than true. We should all thank Dr. Seuss for these affirming words of love and acceptance. And we should live these words.

The competitors who do best on the baking shows who do best bring a part of their lives onto the plate. Their kid’s favorite cookies, their grandmother’s recipe, the cakes they baked with their dad. They bring their own personal twists to tradition and expectations as well. They are themselves, and they bring their whole selves to this experience.

This is how I intend to live my every day. I consider this living my best life. I will rejoice in my favorite colors, crochet all day, watch my favorite shows, ogle planners, and talk about stories. Always, every day, I will talk about stories.

Don’t hide what you love, what you feel or who you are because you’re worried people won’t like or understand you. If people don’t like you, they’re not your people.

Follow the rules

If a challenge calls for almonds, you really need to include almonds. You can have the best dessert on the planet, spun sugar to the roof, perfect blend of sweet and tart, and it’s not going to matter at all if you didn’t include the damned almonds.

Now look, I’m a big believer in using common sense when it comes to following rules. There are times to ignore them, and times to stick to them. But anytime you ignore a rule, you do so at your own peril.

If you’re a speculative fiction writer and the agent you’re submitting to an agent who doesn’t represent genre fiction, guess where your manuscript is going. Now you’ve just wasted your time and theirs.

If you’ve made an appointment to video conference with someone about a job at 11:00, don’t roll in at 11:10 and expect to get the job.

And if you’re told to include almonds in a recipe, include the freaking almonds!

Some people will love you and some just won’t.

Frequently on the baking competition shows, one judge will think a competitor’s creation will be the absolute bomb. But another judge will feel it’s lackluster.

That makes sense. Everyone’s taste is different. And the same goes for you. You are not going to be everyone’s favorite person. You are not going to be everyone’s perfect match, bff, ideal employee.

Don’t take it personal. You will be someone else’s favorite person, just as you are.

All the advantages in the world won’t help you

I’ve seen some people get some cool advantages in these baking competitions. One of them got Doug, from Ace of Cakes, one of the judges, to help her with her cake. How freaking cool is that?

But she squandered him. She had him spend his whole time working on one tiny detail that just didn’t wow. She could have had him do so much more!

Listen, life is this. We all have advantages in our lives. Some of us are physically fit, some of us are really smart. Some of us are born with just God-given talents for some things. Some of us are born with the right bone structure to be considered beautiful for the time.

None of this means a damn if we don’t use these advantages to our benefit. So don’t waste them. Whatever you have, whatever your advantage is, use it.

And by the way, if you don’t know what your advantage is, ask someone else. You for sure have something going for you that other people are jealous about.

Don’t panic

I couldn’t survive this baking show, just to be clear. I have watched these people, on multiple occasions, have a catastrophe happen. Raw cakes shattered sugar work. Cakes that are too hot to put the icing on, pieces of chocolate that don’t fit together.

This is almost always not the end of someone’s appearance. Almost always, the competitor responds with, “Then I thought- Insert fancy idea that no other human being would have thought of-.”

How did they come up with that? Simple, they didn’t panic. They thought of a solution. And usually, it’s a great one.

How much better would your life be if, every time something went horribly wrong, we thought of solutions instead of panicking?

Don’t ever play it safe

The people who get kicked off the baking shows fastest are the people who play it safe. The ones who don’t show creativity. The ones who play it safe, and make what they know. They don’t make it to the final round.

There are all kinds of ways we can play it safe. We can keep the boring job, wear boring clothes, take boring vacations. We can stop learning new things because we might fail. We can just stop growing.

Don’t do that! Try new foods, take a class, read a book you’ve never heard of. Try to make that big ass seven-layer cake if you want to. Go somewhere you’ve never been.

This is how we live. And what’s the point of living if you’re not, you know, living!

Get something on the plate

So many times, I’ve seen contestants put absolute garbage on the plate. I mean, I could do better. And I’m a terrible baker! That’s why I’m watching this, to live vicariously through them and they are ruining my dream.

But they are always better off than this one kid I saw on Great British Bake off one time. He was so frustrated by his work, because it was just not good enough, that he threw the whole mess in the trash and had nothing to present to the judges at all.

Paul Hollywood was not happy with him.

It’s always better to at least try. Even if it’s not your best, even if you’re not thrilled with it.

To put this one another way, let me share with you my favorite quote. I live my life by this quote, and so does my hero, Tina Fey.

The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready. It goes on because it’s 11:30.- Lorne Michaels.

Of course, we all want to do our best all the time. But sometimes we’re going to fall short of that. We’re going to have a project, a blog post, a novel, a painting, a letter to a family member sitting in our workspace for way too long. Or maybe you’re dying to have friends over but you don’t know if your home is ready for them. Maybe you’ve been wanting to go back to school or start writing, but it’s just never the right time.

It’s never the right time. Get something on the plate, get the show on.

So, what do you think? Do you watch baking competition shows? Let us know your favorite in the comments below.

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