Dessert competition series Great Chocolate Showdown made its U.S. debut in 2022 on The CW. But in its native Canada, the TV show had already aired two seasons, with a third on the way. And thanks to anecdotes from contestants and from Steve Hodge — one of Great Chocolate Showdown’s three hosts and judges — we know what it’s like to film the show.
“When you see the bakers have two hours on a bake, that is absolutely real … and it’s stressful for the bakers,” Steve previously told WestVancouver.com. “The contestants stress themselves so much.”
In fact, the competition is so intense, producers weren't sure the judges could cut it. Steve said: “I actually once said we should have a competition where the judges have to compete, and my producer just said, ‘No way. Absolutely no.’ Because it would be too stressful, and we’d probably mess it up.”
So what are contestants up against actually? And who are the other hosts of Great Chocolate Showdown? Read on for details!
Who hosts 'Great Chocolate Showdown' with Steve Hodge?
Anna Olson co-hosts the show with Steve, and is definitely in the right place. According to her website, Anna is an accomplished chef and baker, who is considered "Canada's baking sweetheart."
The third judge joining Anna and Steve is Cynthia Stroud, who hails from Britain. In fact, she's a self-taught baker most famous for her cakes, per Food Network.
Two of Cynthia's distinguished achievements are being named Best Wedding Cake Designer for London and South East and Best Cake Maker at the British Wedding Awards.
Incidentally, Steve's specialty is pastry, and so, together, the three hosts are more than capable of overseeing this sweet escape from reality.
Contestants have to go through multiple interviews to land a spot on the show.
Katie Rotchin auditioned for her spot on Great Chocolate Showdown in March 2019, while she was studying linguistics and anthropology at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. After filling out an online questionnaire, she talked with the show’s producers over the phone, and once she passed that step, she was invited for a an hour-long live audition over Skype.
“During the second half-hour, I was asked to bake,” she revealed to The Suburban in January 2020, recalling that tryout. “Not having had any prior experience with this kind of audition, I struggled to fit both my baking and my face in the frame. I ended up just crouching down near the stove whenever I had to explain a step. Luckily, the producer found it funny.”
But it wasn’t all luck: Katie’s organization came through in the audition. “I had made a finished version of my chocolate tart the day before, since I knew I would not have time to complete a finished version in the 30 minutes allotted, but the producer loved how organized and prepared I was,” she said.
The show is “hard” but “really a great experience,” contestants report.
Connie Kazan on Dearborn, Mich., and Bri Brown of Detroit, are two of the bakers who compete in Season 3 of the show, though neither one specializes in chocolate. “So, chocolate is a whole different world,” Connie explained to ClickOnDetroit.com.
Bri concurred, saying, “I know a lot of people are like, ‘Oh I could do that.’ But I’m telling you, the show is hard.”
Season 1’s Renu Mathew — a high school teacher from Olds, Alberta — told Mountain View Today last year that she “gained a lot of skills with chocolate and practice with chocolate” during the competition.
“We had access to some amazing people that kind of shed light on different techniques and best practices to improve our skills,” Renu added. “So it was really a great experience that way.”
Great Chocolate Showdown airs Saturdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.