One of our very own Wantable stylists, Lauren Ravan, was recently a contestant on The Food Network’s Christmas Cookie Challenge! We sat down with Lauren to learn a bit more about her experience on the show, and how being a master cookie maker is a bit like styling outfits too!
We expected to be impressed by her creative spirit and ambition. But, we weren’t expecting to be so inspired by how she bravely overcame her fear of failure and auditioned for the show to teach her daughter about the importance of following her dreams.
What inspired you to compete on Food Network’s Christmas Cookie Challenge?
Lauren: My family! Especially my mom and my daughter. We’re big fans of the show and have watched it for the past four seasons. Each year my family has encouraged me to apply. I’d respond with something like, ” Maybe. Someday. One-day.”
It was when we were in the height of quarantine and watching more TV than ever that my daughter wanted to binge the baking shows. She mentioned again that I should audition to be on the show. “Maybe. One day.”
Then I sat there thinking how I didn’t want to tell my preteen daughter that I was scared of rejection, public failure, or felt inadequate because I never wanted her to let feelings like that stop her from doing big things in her life. So, I googled how to apply, and the rest is history! I wasn’t sure if I had even the slightest glimmer of a chance, but knew I’d never know if I didn’t try!
What advice do you have for someone who is putting off their dreams for “one-day”?
Lauren: I think we just have to remember that there are seven days in a week and that some day or one-day isn’t one of them. Everyone feels the fear of failure, the difference between those that have achieved their dreams and those that haven’t is that some felt the fear and did it anyway.
We want all the details! What was it like auditioning to be on Food Network’s Christmas Cookie Challenge?
Lauren: It’s a LONG process!! I put in my application on random Summer day of 2020. I didn’t hear from Food Network until February of 2021. I was convinced I just didn’t make the cut and was okay with that because I still showed my daughter that we have to put ourselves out there.
It was a total movie scene when they did call though. There was squealing and tears. I Facetimed my mom immediately afterwards! But that’s just the initial phone call, there are many more interviews, screenings, baking challenges and cookie examples to showcase your skillset, and Zooms throughout the interview process with more producers than I could keep up with. (I had NO idea so there were so many people with the role of producer on any given show!)
It was extensive. It was nerve wrecking, sitting on the edge of my seat to know if I made it through to the next round of interviews. On top of all of that it has to stay top secret, which makes it even more challenging! As for working with the network and the team of producers in the process, they were incredible. So kind. So encouraging. So much fun!
Being a part of the Christmas Cookie Challenge looks so fun, and (TBH) a little scary! What helped you fuel your self confidence and overcome any fears?
Lauren: It was definitely scary. It still is when I think about it! I have no idea what the final cut of my episode looks like, so I am anxious to see myself and my work on the screen. But in moments of paralyzing fear leading up to the actual filming I would borrow confidence and belief from my family. I am so blessed to have such a supportive and encouraging husband, daughter and parents.
There were many moments that I’d have imposter syndrome, thinking “Who am I to be doing this?!” “I can’t do this!” but they believed that I could so I’d move forward despite the fear. Leading up to the show and then now waiting for it to air are actually more terrifying than the actual filming itself!
First- the set team is incredible. Everyone was so kind and they truly want you to shine and feel great. And there is something comforting about being in a scary situation with other people who are actually going through the exact feelings you are. It almost felt like camp, away on this secret project with the other INSANELY talented Cookiers and all walking into it blindly. We had no idea what to expect, but we had each other to laugh the nerves out with and that made it fun.
Once the camera’s start rolling and the clock is ticking, you almost forget you’re being filmed. You’re in a foreign kitchen and under seriously scary time restraints. The last thing I was worried about then was if my hair looked good! I just wanted to be able to find the ingredients and supplies I needed to finish on time, everything else becomes a blur! I didn’t have time to be nervous!
How did you pick the cookie you made on the challenge?
Lauren: As far as the recipe goes, I knew I wanted to make a flavor I had never seen on the show before. It was a big risk, because I chose a recipe that requires a lot more steps than a traditional sugar cookie recipe. You’ll have to watch the episode to see if that worked for or against me!
As far as design, we were given a specific challenge on set and I wanted to pick something was was 100% authentically me! I can’t say too much to give it away before the show airs, but what I can tell you is that I LOVE Christmas. Like really, really love Christmas. We decorate and put up a tree in every room of our home. So I chose to replicate things that are really part of our family’s Christmas and that you could find in our home.
Sounds like you’ve had a love for cooking and baking for quite some time. Tell us more about what inspires your passion for baking?
Lauren: Yes! My Mom is the real baker in our family. She really is incredible. But I have countless memories in the kitchen baking with her, especially at Christmas. I started decorating cookies because I wanted fancy favors for one of my daughter’s birthday parties! I had no idea what I was doing, and they were not pretty, but it was fun!
I kept sharing things I did for her birthday parties on social media and people started asking me to do things for theirs and before you knew it I had a full blown business, expanding to all baked goods from wedding cakes to pie bars. But baking full time is not for the faint of heart, the hours were insane. So although I no longer run a full-time custom bakery, I love taking custom cookie orders on occasion and teaching others how to cookie as well.
Memories in the kitchen with my mom are the greatest gift she ever gave me, so to think that I could teach or inspire others to bake and pass on those memories to their friends and family, well I think that’s just the greatest honor. It gives me all of the warm and fuzzies.
When you think about it, baking and styling are a bit similar! In both cases you’re using different ingredients to complete a masterpiece. Tell us about how you use your baking skills to be an amazing stylist at Wantable.
Lauren: Oh, I absolutely think they’re one and the same! I don’t know if it will make the final cut of the episode, but I actually talk about this on the set of the show. There are trends in cookies just like there are in fashion, and they often align!
Having an eye for color stories, mixing patterns and textures or shapes and sizes, layering, and knowing when to add details or not, all of that comes in to play with cookie decorating! So just like we may have to pick the perfect width belt I have to choose the perfect piping top and placement or creating the perfect pink to bring a set together the way a scarf or cardigan can.
My personal style is very much identifiable in my cookie style as well. There is always a lot of color, they have a preppy, feminine feel to them, with touches of gold metallics, and always sneaking in a little edible glitter when I can!
Before we go, we’d love to raise a glass to you, and your cool adventure on the Food Network Christmas Cookie Challenge. **clinky** What’s in your glass?
Lauren: I’m sipping on my favorite Holiday Mimosas! This cocktail is a crowd favorite in our home from Thanksgiving to New Years. It oozes holiday flavor and nostalgia and can we talk about that gorgeous color?!
Tune in to the Food Network on Thursday, December 16 at 9 / 8 p.m. CT to see Lauren compete in the Christmas Cookie Challenge! And of course, if you’d like Lauren to flex her styling skills and put together and Edit for you – request your Edit today!