Melissa Yanc, the local baker behind Quail & Condor breads, is going to be on the Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship.

The show aired this week, Monday, Nov. 4 and will continue its run on Mondays as bakers vie for the coveted championship.

Yanc, who is originally from the San Fernando area of Los Angeles, started Quail & Condor last October with her husband. The duo sells soft pretzels, pastries and sourdough breads at the Sunday Windsor Farmers Market and in Cloverdale at the Tuesday market.

The baker updates her Instagram almost every day with photos of scrumptious treats. She got on the show when someone from the Holiday Baking Championship noticed her baked goods.

“I was approached and they said, ‘Hey based off of your Instagram it looks like you would do great on the show,’” Yanc said. 

From there Yanc had to go through a lengthy two-month application process where candidates were narrowed down based on interview questions and photos of their work.

The show was filmed at the end of July in Los Angeles.

“I was definitely out of my league on day one,” Yanc said, laughing. “Everybody was so talented decorating and that is something I’m so clumsy with because now I am a full time bread baker and so there is a little less detail work in that regard of piping and color.”

“My identity has changed a lot since becoming a mom, I put a lot of that aside, I work from home essentially now and we just do the farmers markets. So not being in a professional, full-on kitchen all the time is like a fish out of water in both aspects,” Yanc said. 

sweet treats

Sweet treats — On Friday, Nov. 1 Yanc stood in the Plaza in downtown Healdsburg and gave away pumpkin pie bars, buckwheat brownies, spiced honey cupcakes and iced shortbread. Proceeds went to Healdsburg Corazon.

Going into the show, Yanc said she would dedicate extra time for piping and decorating since it wasn’t her strong suit. Other aspects of baking, such as balancing flavor and texture, were easier for her.

This season’s panel of judges include English T.V. cook Lorraine Pascale, Food Network star Nancy Fuller and pastry chef Duff Goldman.

“It is really weird to say but I really like being judged,” Yanc said. “When they have their own standard of what it should be, it is really nice to get that feedback. And they were also really supportive.” 

Yanc said Lorraine Pascale was like the Paula Abdul of the show, always providing helpful tips, whereas Nancy Fuller was focused on the quality of decorations. 

Duff Goldman was straight to the point and provided compliments with a side of constructive criticism. 

Yanc grew up watching Goldman’s show “Ace of Cakes,” so she was a bit “star-struck.” 

“He was the one that wanted to connect the most. Every time the camera would shut off he’d want to talk with us,” Yanc said.

She said the other contestants were full-time cake bakers or pastry chefs at restaurants, which Yanc also has experience in but has not done since starting Quail & Condor.

After the show was filmed the group of competitors, now friends, still maintain a group text.

She said her family is “Super stoked” to see her on the show. 

“For some reason being on TV was such a validation for them,” Yanc said.

While she, too, was excited to be on the show, she said the part of baking that brings her the most joy are the aromas.

“It may be ugly, but as long as it smells good and tastes good, we’re good,” Yanc said.

Even though Yanc baked a lot as a child with her grandmother she first wanted to pursue geology.

“I always liked something with science and my dad was also very encouraging so my grandma would come over all the time in the spring when my birthday is, she’s from the Philippines, and we started decorating cakes when I was like eight-years-old,” Yanc said.

Her Dad suggested that she combine her two interests into one pursuit.

“A light turned on and my Dad asked me, ‘What do you want to do with your degree when you are done,’ and I said work for the news, predict earthquakes and open a bakery.”

With support from her Dad, Yanc decided to go to pastry school in Denver.

Yanc said of baking, “It is therapeutic in its own way, it is a good way to lose yourself.”

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