I’m a contestant on The Great American Baking Show!

The bakers of The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition, Season 5! Photo credit: ABC/

If you follow me on Instagram or facebook, you have probably seen my big announcement. (If you don’t follow me, I would love it if you did!) I spent this past summer competing on The Great American Baking Show, Season 5 and I couldn’t be more excited to share it with you! It was a dream come true to make it into the big white tent that so many seasons of both American and British bakers have shared.

That dream came with a lot of hard work and some disappointments along the way. I applied for the show THREE TIMES! While I know that some people have made it on their first attempt, it wasn’t that easy for me. I had to try, and try, and try again! Of course, I was immensely disappointed with the first two attempts when I was not cast. I didn’t realize it at the time but those attempts were preparing me for my time in the tent.

I had a lot to learn about baking and about myself before I tied on that apron. I practiced, I read, I studied and I attempted every baking discipline at least once. My time in the kitchen was limited because of my work schedule but I spent every waking moment thinking about baking (and some sleeping moments as well!). Watching the Great British Bake Off and other baking shows became a sort of study for me. I paid attention to the types of bakes, the flavor profiles used and what the judges liked and didn’t like.

Eventually, it paid off. I got that coveted call saying that I had made it. I met so many amazing people throughout the audition process and keeping the secret from them was so hard!

Within 24 hours of getting that call, we began recipe prep. We only had 5 weeks to prepare recipes for 8 episodes plus packing, paperwork, travel arrangements, preparing my house and family for my time away, and also wrapping my head around the fact that I would be baking in the tent and be judged by Paul and Sherry!

It was a whirlwind but we did it. Despite several canceled flights, I made it to London! I met my fellow bakers as soon as I got to London. I immediately felt like an imposter. These people are better than me. And I’m competing against them in the tent in just a couple of days?!?

It didn’t take long for me to get to know my fellow contestants. They are all amazing people and going into the tent with them felt like I had someone in my corner. Like they were my allies instead of my competitors. It suddenly only mattered to me that I did my best. My own personal best.

I’m so anxious about the premiere for so many reasons. But more than anything else, I really want to share this experience. So please watch!

The Great American Baking Show premieres on Thursday, December 12th at 9 pm EST/8 pm CST on ABC. It will also be on Hulu! Please watch the show and come back and let me know what you think! I will be posting after each episode with thoughts and reactions!


  1. I had to recently watch and re-watch the episode where you got a Paul Hollywood handshake for your Grassini Caliente breadsticks. They looked and sounded delicious,,especially because my husband and I are really into “caliente” foods. I am just starting to bake because of the virus quarantine, and have wanted to try making crispy breadsticks, and I wondered if you would please let me know your recipe. Did you sandwich the spice mix between two layers, and was that sesame seeds on them?

    • Tanya Ott

      Thanks, I’m so glad that you enjoy the show! I love spicy stuff too and those breadsticks are a favorite at my house! I do plan to share a version of those breadsticks but the recipes that we created for the show become the networks and we aren’t supposed to share them. But I have some that are just as great that I will share soon!

  2. I just finished reading your other posts about being on the show and now I’m curious: did you have to pay for your own flights and hotel?

    • Briana – Thanks for stopping by and reading about my experience on the show! The production company pays for the contestant’s flights and hotel. They make all of the arrangements and are so amazing to work with!

  3. Hi Tanya – I just finished watching the series last night. I absolutely love this show. And how fun that you were with others from the St Louis area! I live in St Charles (same as Robin above). I can’t even imagine what it must have been like baking in the tent. I can barely bake cookies – much less all of the amazing things you had to prepare. Like Robin – if you ever have classes I’d love to attend. My very best wishes for a Happy New Year!

    • Thanks so much for watching Lisa! Baking in the tent was tough but so exhilarating! I loved every second! Make sure that you sign up for my email list and I’ll let you know about classes in the future!

      Happy baking!

  4. Robin A Stout

    I am a fan of yours and enjoyed every step of your journey. I love your passion and are so proud that you came from my hometown area. You are amazing!! I would love to learn from you if you ever give lessons. You amaze me at how much you know a variety of things about baking. I just found this site of yours and so happy I did. I look forward to reading your posts. I live in St Charles MO now, and was excited to see 3 others from our area. So happy for you and the experience you were able to have!! Go Tanya – your fan forever!!!🎂

    • Wow, thank you so much for the kind words! This was such an amazing experience and the people that I have met were honestly the best part! The fact that three of us are from the STL area is so great because now I have baking buddies so close to me! I do plan to teach classes. That is the part of baking that I am the most passionate about – doing it with others! Right now I’m working on finding a venue.

      Happy baking!!

  5. I’m so excited for you and I CANNOT WAIT to watch!!!!! I mean, really can’t wait to see
    you on the screen! I am your biggest cheerleader! Go Tanya!!! And really excited to read your inside scoop after each episode!

    • Thanks, Emily! I feel like you’ve been on the whole journey with me! I hope you love watching all of the ups and downs and craziness that I haven’t been able to fill you in on yet!

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