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Food Network Gingerbread Challenge Meets Nikki Wills!

Those of you who read the blog regularly know that Nikki Wills from Tikkido is one of our Taste Creation bloggers. What you might not know is that Nikki was one of the contestants for a Holiday Gingerbread Showdown on the Food Network.  She taped several weeks ago and last night the show aired for the first time.  I can assure you that I was front and center of my sofa, waiting for the show to begin!
Forgive the coloring. I had the Christmas tree lit and it really impacted the color in the living room!
This showdown aired as part of Marcella Valladolid's Naughty or Nice series. The contestants are competing for an ultimate prize of $25,000 but first they have to win their individual rounds which includes a lot of details such as following the theme, using the challenge in the final product, and appeal.

I got settled down with a huge mug of hot cocoa and my gingerbread cookies and started watching. To my delight, Nikki was an instant favorite. She wasn't whiney or complaining but always happy and up. You could tell she was in awe of being there and did a great job.  They always throw in a twist and this time Nikki won with her peach jellies to be used as stepping stones in her castle. I hope we get a glimpse of her recipe for the peach jellies.

Peach candied jellies on a white place with fresh peaches on the table

You'll have to watch the series to see if Nikki wins, and here is the schedule for the next showings:

I asked Nikki a few questions from her experience with the Food Network event.  My questions are in bold and Nikki's responses are in italics.

What was the most interesting thing you learned about the Food Network on this event?

I now know how all those Hollywood types stay so skinny. They kept us BUSY BUSY BUSY every second of the day, 7am to 7:30pm. And while they always brought us food from catering, without fail, by the time I got a bite or two, someone would come along and say, "Get enough? Let's go do XYZ." And I'd be whisked away.

What will be your fondest memory? 

Without a doubt, doing all of this with my mom as my assistant will be my fondest memory. Yeah, winning the tasting challenge and having those amazing judges love my peach jellies was INCREDIBLE. Life-affirming. But my mom is the one who started this gingerbread tradition in our family. She's the one who started making gingerbread houses for every kid in my class, my girl scout troop, my brother's classes and troops, etc. I grew up making gingerbread with her, and some of my most cherished memories are of making gingerbread with my mother. She is the reason I love gingerbread. I am so incredibly grateful that I was able to share this amazing experience with her. What a memory to crown a lifetime of gingerbread memories!

If you could do one thing differently what would you do? 

Oh man, I learned SO much from doing this show! I wish I'd known just how much time the TV-making aspect eats up. Lots of hurry up and wait, as costuming comes in to sew my shirt to my bra strap, or the lighting experts are doing their magic, etc. I'd definitely plan my timing very differently if I could do it again. The feedback from the judges was also amazing. I love constructive criticism! The judging went on for a good 20 minutes in real life, and I got amazing ideas and design thoughts from all three judges that I would love to incorporate into a reworked version of my Once Upon a Christmas showpiece.

Will you have any spinoffs from this event? Like a new ebook? 

I'm working on a brand new gingerbread ebook with all of my fairy tale themed gingerbread houses! It's the perfect companion to my Gingerbread for Beginners book if you're ready to take your gingerbread creations to the next level.

Nikki sent some photos that I have to share with you!  These show the "behind-the-scenes" of an event like this!  
Packed boxes of gingerbread with a cute pair of socks.
Contestants were allowed to bring some pre-made parts for their displays.
Back trunk of the car filled with boxes shrink wrapped.
Nikki's car packed to the brim with gingerbread!

The opened door to Avenue Six
This is where Nikki was filmed for the event.

Exterior shot of a filming location that looks like row homes with a silver car parked out front
Exterior shot of the filming location. It's so cute!

A sketch of what the final product will look like
This is Nikki's sketch of her idea for the Challenge.

A scaled model of the gingerbread village in a living room
Nikki's scaled model of the gingerbread castle in her living room!
Please join me in congratulating Nikki on her selection to this Food Network Event!  Nikki is the author of Gingerbread for Beginners and you can purchase it (you get the designs and recipes for 5 different gingerbread houses!) for $6.95.  Click on the link to purchase!

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