Local baker’s run on competition show inspires career passion

Cornelius resident Karis Stucker never dreamed she would be on one of her favorite shows, “The Great American Baking Show.” 

One acceptance letter and several interviews later, Stucker flew to London, where she spent a month filming season six with eight other bakers from across the United States.

“The Great American Baking Show” is a reality competition show that features amateur bakers as they attempt to impress judges through various baking challenges. Each week, one baker is eliminated.

Stucker’s season of the show was released on May 5 on the Roku channel.

Since being on the show, Stucker, 27, says her baking skill has improved because practiced making the recipes prior to filming. 

Stucker, whose first lesson in baking was making peanut butter cookies with her grandmother, said her favorite thing to bake is cake. And since being on the show, she’s learning to make pastries.

At one point, Stucker said she considered going to culinary school but decided to “let the kitchen be [her] guide” instead.

“I’m glad that I didn’t go to culinary school because in order to be on ‘The Great American Baking Show,’ you have to be considered an amateur,” Stucker told QCity Metro in an interview. 

“It was such an honor to be on the show as a Black woman and to be able to present our culture and who I am and what I do,” Stucker said.

QCity Metro spoke with Stucker to understand how her life has changed since being on the show, what she learned, and her plans for the future. Here’s what she said. 

Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity. 

What has life been like since the new season came out?

Being on the show and coming back to the U.S. was like coming back to reality, but the coolest thing that came out of it was meeting eight other bakers. We talk every single day in a group chat and have done so since the chat was created. I also think people’s reactions to the show have just been awesome. I have about 100 messages in my phone that are unread, and I’m like, I just need to sit down and just rapid-fire responses to thank everyone for all of their support. One thing that was special to me was that the show came out on May 5, which was the same day my sister graduated with her master’s. My whole family was in town, so we got to see her graduate, and then we watched the show together.

What was it like being on the set of a TV show? 

I have a YouTube channel where I make videos for the recipes on my blog, and as soon as the camera turns on, I feel awkward. But on the show, we had a very daunting task in front of us every single time that superseded any nervousness that I felt when the cameras were on. I felt like I was my natural self, and they captured my personality quite well, so I didn’t feel like I was acting.

What was your reaction to seeing yourself on TV?

It was so crazy, but it was fun. There were a few moments where I made myself laugh, and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh. I’m so corny.’ They also record so much more than they put in the final version of the show. You’ll definitely remember it differently than how it comes out, but I will say that what they [televised] was accurate to how I remember it.

What was the most difficult thing for you to learn to bake? 

The hardest food to bake was anything bread related, and I already knew that bread week was going to be tough for me.

What did being on the show teach you?

I think because the show is about baking in general, it really stretched me. Even though I didn’t make it to the finale, I still had to practice as if I was going to be in the final round. The other bakers, who have been baking longer, helped me understand what other areas I wanted to try. [Lately], I’ve been experimenting with pastries. 

Photo: Mark Bourdillon

What was London like?

It was really cool. People always say it rains all the time, but I think it only rained one day when we were there, and the people were super friendly. London is not well known for its food, but I thought the food was some of the best food I’ve had in my travels. I would go to food halls, and I would try a little bit of everything. I feel like I tasted my way through London.

What was your favorite food to try?

There is a food hall called Seven Dials that has a restaurant called Pick & Cheese. It has a cheese conveyor belt, and I would literally go there by myself, sit on the stool, let the cheese go by and have a glass of wine.

What’s next for you? 

I’m going to keep writing on [my] blog; that’s my passion. I plan to keep putting recipes up, and I want to become a full-time dessert blogger. ​​I’m trying new things in the kitchen, and I already know what recipes I’m going to post in the future. 

I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen, and now I have an organized way of baking. I’ll do the occasional wedding cake, but  I don’t sell cakes anymore because I really enjoy traveling, and I don’t want to be tied down to one location.

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