What TV show were you on recently and what initially piqued your interest to participate?
Jamie: I taped an episode of Jeopardy! In 2020. I got an email about the online test and figured "why not?" I also thought it would never happen, so there wasn't anything to lose!
Andrew: I competed on the first season of the Great Chocolate Showdown on Food Network Canada! It's the only baking competition show centered on one ingredient. I've been baking for six years, and a casting producer saw my Instagram posts and invited me to apply for the show.
What process did you have to go through to get on Jeopardy and The Great Chocolate Showdown?
Jamie: (Jeopardy) The whole process spanned roughly a year and a half. After the online test, I was invited for an in-person interview in Los Angeles. You gather with about 30 other folks at a hotel, take another test, and play a mock-round of questions with the buzzer. You meet nice people, take home a few little freebies, and then it's up to the production team. A little over a year later (seriously), I got the call that I'd been selected to tape while my mom was visiting, so it was really special to share the news with my family in-person.
Andrew: (The Great Chocolate Showdown) The first round was an application discussing myself, what I like to bake, and why I wanted to be on the show. The next round was an interview and a live baking audition! I baked a chocolate lava cake while a producer watched via Skype. I had never baked lava cake before, but it came out perfectly, with the warm chocolate center that oozes when you cut into it. The producers must have liked it, because not too long after that, they called me with an offer to be on the show!
What was the experience like both on and off the camera?
Even though I had put myself forward for this experience, by the time it came around I was so nervous - my brother Peter graciously took time off work to be in the audience and cheer me on! You arrive early on tape day to prepare, practice on the buzzer, and run through makeup. The studio is kept VERY cold due to the lights, so I couldn't tell if I was shaking from fear or temperature! Meeting Alex Trebek was a huge honor - he was relaxed and gracious, and you could tell that he absolutely loved his job. The game itself flies by - some categories you go "I know a bit about this" and others you think "oh, no thank you." I definitely got busted on a few questions! The one category I smashed was "Latin Phrases," and I owe that to taking Latin at SSSAS with Mr. Joyce and Mrs. Jones.
Andrew: The days are long, but it's a lot of fun. Filming was in Toronto, and the other bakers and I would get to the studio around 7:00 a.m. and go through the wardrobe, hair, makeup, and audio. Once we're on the set, the judges present us with our next challenge, the clock starts, and then it's go time! Baking on a set while talking to expert judges is a lot different than baking at home - I had to think about how to use ingredients in creative ways, how to adapt when something goes wrong, and how to manage my time in order to present a competition-worthy dessert. Off-camera, I got to know the other bakers really well and learned a lot of new baking techniques. The bakers are a close group and we stay in touch.
What’s next? (Personally or Professionally!)
Jamie: I work in television, and this fall season has been unlike any other thanks to COVID. I'm also putting the final touches on two scripts, and slowly starting to plan my wedding!
Andrew: Being part of the Great Chocolate Showdown inspired me to invest more time in my culinary practice and get out of my comfort zone. I've been doing a lot of "quarantine baking" to explore new recipes and be more creative in my cooking and baking. No firm plans yet, but I hope it's not my last time in a televised cooking competition!
What do you enjoy most about being a part of the SSSAS community?
Jamie: There is immense joy in seeing the various paths into adulthood that my peers have taken - starting their own businesses, participating in community activism, traveling the world, raising families, and more. We're not all traditionally in touch, but thanks to social media, I feel like I can cheer people on from afar.
Andrew: What I enjoy most is being part of an alumni community that stays engaged with the school and with each other. There are a lot of connections between different class years and it's fun to connect with other alums - when we can gather together safely. Even if I haven't seen my classmates in a long time, everyone is friendly and loves hearing about what everyone else is doing! I'm really looking forward to our 20th Reunion, which will hopefully be in the spring.