|Ian Gomez and Nia Vardalos (left) host while Johnny Luzzini and Mary Berry (right) judge "The Great Holiday Baking Show." (ABC)|
TV SERIES REVIEWThe new holiday baking competition show, The Great Holiday Baking Show, could conceivably be called, My Big Fat Greek Baking Show as it is hosted by real life husband and wife Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) and husband Ian Gomez (Cougar Town). However, the show is based on the hit UK series, The Great British Bake Off, so maybe the “Greek” title wouldn’t work.
This is actually the second U.S. version of this show. The first, The American Baking Competition, was shown during the summer of 2013 on CBS and was hosted by Jeff Foxworthy. In this new version (which looks and feels very similar to the former) some of the best U.S. home bakers will compete to earn the title of Holiday Baking Champion, which sounds as lame as winning the mirrorball trophy from Dancing With the Stars. The show features James Beard award-winning pastry chef and author, Johnny Luzzini and England’s “Royal Queen of Baking,” Mary Berry.
While cooking shows are still popular, one has to wonder if anyone will bother tuning in at 10:00 p.m. for this one. The promos for the show aren’t exactly compelling either. The show itself is very family-friendly, so it probably would do better in an earlier timeslot.
For four weeks, six competitors will bake up a storm together with one cook leaving at the end of each episode until the finale. The bakers come from all walks of life. Inslee is from Hollywood. Tim (who has come equipped with bear paw oven mitts) is a marketing director at a jersey shore amusement park. Lauren lives in Virginia and has a fine arts degree. Grace is from Staten Island, is a hospital administrator and says that she will probably be the most basic baker in the competition. Eddie is from Chicago and is a classically trained musician. Nicole is a kindergarten teacher and girl scout leader.
On Monday night’s premiere, it’s “Biscuit Week,” which is actually cookies, but in England they tend to call them biscuits. In fact, as Berry explains, children often leave biscuits for Santa with a glass of sherry instead of milk. Berry says that American children may get better gifts in their stockings if they did the same.
The competition is cut into three tasks:
1. Bake two sets of cookies based on home recipes.
2. A technical challenge where each contestant is given the same recipe, but some of the directions are missing.
3. Bake and build a gingerbread creation with additional cookies as supporting players.
For those who like to bake, this is fun show. There are really no stand out winners here. One person may excel at the first challenge and then fail at the next. One baker created a beautiful gingerbread piece, but it wasn’t very tasty. Another did just the opposite. As for the hosts, despite what you have seen in the TV promos, they do go overboard with silly quips and both Vardalos and Gomez do a nice job at narrating.