The clock is ticking down.
Time seems to be going at warp speed while your hands seem to move in slow motion. Your fingers are slipping. Time is slipping. The lights are bright and hot, blinding you. All eyes are on you. It’s not a nightmare, it’s a dream come true. You are on a televised baking competition.
If you watched the holiday-themed baking competition “Sugar Rush Christmas” on Netflix, you might see a familiar face: Ta’Nisha Kimbrough of Ta’Nisha Monique Cupcakes in Winston-Salem.
Kimbrough appeared on the episode titled “O Christmas Tree” of “Sugar Rush Christmas,” a competition that challenges four teams of bakers to create themed cupcakes, confections and cakes for a chance to win $10,000. The treats are judged by Candace Nelson, founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes, Australian celebrity pastry chef Adriano Zumbo and guest judge, Amirah Kassem of Flour Bakery in New York City.
Kimbrough opened up her shop in East Winston two years ago and hasn’t looked back. Providing cakes and confections to fans near and far, the show’s producers contacted her after connecting with her on Instagram.
“A California number called me and I thought they were kidding,” the bakeshop owner remembers. “I almost hung up on them.” Before she knew it she was on a plane to California for tapings.
In the first round, Kimbrough and her partner were tasked with creating a cupcake that looked like a wrapped gift or present with the cake representing classic festive flavors. The result was a peppermint cupcake with white-chocolate mousse and vanilla-bean buttercream. But before the competition could begin, troubles plagued Kimbrough.
First, her chosen baking partner pulled out of the competition mere hours before boarding the plane.
“We had a falling out over creative differences,” said Kimbrough, “She thought she knew better than me and tried to take over.”
With less than 24 hours until filming was the begin, show producers scrambled to find a replacement contestant to pair up with Kimbrough.
On the show it was stated they “recently met through social media” but the reality of this reality show was that the two met mere hours before taping. Tim Hayes, a culinary instructor from Tennessee was brought in as a replacement.
“It was so stressful,” Kimbrough remembers. “I didn’t know him, he didn’t know me, and he was very arrogant,” which added to the chaos of the experience.
Kimbrough’s first teammate choice was her mother. Unfortunately, producers quickly nixed that idea stating that their relationship would not mesh with the theme of the show.
After her grandmother passed away in 2012, Kimbrough and her mother baked and created through the grieving process.
“From this baking therapy, I decided to move on faith and allow my grandmother’s inspiration to guide me towards my future.”
Entrepreneurial dreams aside, she never thought her future would include a competition broadcast on a global scale. While Kimbrough did not advance past the first round, she has advice for other bakers and entrepreneurs.
“Follow your passion and not the money,” she advises. “The money will come, but that is not the focus. Know your craft and continue to educate yourself. Do your research and surround yourself with great businesspeople and those that share your vision. Always stay on top of the latest cake trends and attend as many classes as you can to perfect your craft.”
She says the show was a great networking opportunity, and that she’s still in contact with show producers — she hopes to appear on another episode with her teenaged daughter, Symiyah, who has a sprinkle business.
“I do have a very strong support system which is what I would recommend to all who aspire to venture down this road. But there are only 24 hours in a day, and your girl needs at least 25.”