When Philadelphia pastry chef Neomie Eliezer received an Instagram message last February asking her to participate in Food Network’s “Holiday Baking Championship”, she thought it was a spam message.
Four months later, Eliezer, who lives in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, had another pinch-up moment: After months of back-and-forth with producers, she finally walked onto the show’s set in Knoxville. , Tennessee, where the series was filmed until July.
And finally, after almost a year of waiting, Eliezer can share his experience as one of the 12 bakers in the country as part of the “Holiday Baking Championship”, which began on November 1st.
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The cooking contest show, hosted by Jesse Palmer and judged by Food Network veterans Nancy Fuller, Duff Goldman and Carla Hall, features two challenges per episode around a particular theme, with the weaker contestant being eliminated at the end of the episode.
With two episodes airing, Eliezer has already received a wave of community attention.
âIt’s really interesting; it’s surprising,” Eliezer said. “I’m like, maybe this local celebrity, but I’m really not.”
Eliezer, 38, represents not only the Philadelphia community, but the Jewish community as well.
âReally, it was a stressful part for me because with Hanukkah we have the dreidels and the menorah, but that’s it,â she said. “Holidays, Christmas stuff – it doesn’t come easy, and I didn’t want to just throw red and green jimmies all over the place, you know?”
Eliezer was born to Turkish parents; his mother’s family moved to Israel and his father’s to France. Visiting his father’s family every other summer and every winter as he grew up, Eliezer was steeped in the French culinary world of pastry.
âAs soon as we landed, we would go get hot croissants and hot baguettes from the bakery and bring them to my grandparents’ house and just stuff our faces,â she said.
His grandmother was an exceptional cook, according to Eliezer, who loved to make sweets, and Eliezer’s experiences with Jewish culture were shaped by his Sephardic heritage and cuisine.
Eliezer’s non-Ashkenazi background made her stressful to be the only Jewish person on the show, she said.
Growing up, when asked about her Jewish education, she did not give the same answers as her Ashkenazi peers. Raised by an Israeli mother, she knew her experience as a Jew in America was different from most.
âThere was pressure because I wasn’t doing stereotypical Jewish things,â Eliezer said.
But as a pastry chef, being a Sephardic Jew has also created new opportunities for Eliezer to broaden the horizons of those with Ashkenormative, or Ashkenazi-exclusive, thinking about what Judaism is.
âThe food side is so differentâ¦ it’s like a whole different palette,â Eliezer said. “In that regard, in that regard, it definitely opened people up to different flavors and different things.”
But just like with many reality TV shows, wowing the masses isn’t as easy as it sounds.
In the first episode, the contestants were tasked with making donuts, a task Eliezer trusted, having made sufganiyot every year for Chanukah.
“I thought I had it in the bag, but it didn’t quite go the way I expected,” said Eliezer, admitting that he struggled to find his sea foot at the start.
However, Eliezer ran away later in the episode, taking inspiration from the French classic of a tarte tatin, topping a sable crust of caramelized apples and a white chocolate and Gouda ganache.
Eliezer had filled her Instagram feed @neobakes with photos of her confections since starting her first job as a pastry chef at Rittenhouse Square Parc restaurant in 2013, slowly amassing a local clientele and a handful of clients she has been cooking for since her time. home cooking.
After working as a Bakeware Manager at Fante’s Kitchenware Shop and as a Pastry Chef at Dulce in Collingswood, New Jersey, she started as a Pastry Chef at Feast Your Eyes Catering in Philadelphia, where she has worked since 2018.
But after participating in the “Holiday Baking Championship”, Eliezer plans to change.
Taking part in the show reinvigorated Eliezer, rekindling her passion for baking that had waned as she focused on her marriage and her son’s education. Today, she plans to become a pastry chef in a hotel or to open her own window.
âI don’t know what’s coming next,â Eliezer said. “I really want to grow more and I want more experience in a path, but I don’t know which one yet.”
Episode three of “Holiday Baking Championship” airs on the Food Network at 8 p.m. on November 15 and can be streamed on Discovery +.
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