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Watching The Holiday Baking Championship has become a yearly tradition for many families. Every November and December since 2014, hopeful pastry chefs compete on the Food Network show to win the title of Baking Champion and the $25,000 prize.

Chefs show off their culinary skills, their secret family recipes and their Christmas magic as they fight for the prize, or at least the chance to try again in the next episode. Elimination is brutal and the confections delectable, but there are some fans who think that maybe the judges are a bit unfair.

Holiday Baking Champs are die-hard competitors

As the chefs on The Holiday Baking Championship compete for the title, they are faced with two challenges each week. Each episode has two rounds: the pre-heat and the main heat. Typically, the first round is some sort of themed pastry or small cake.

Themes vary from week to week but could be something as simple as “make a wreath” or as obscure as “make something inspired by this Christmas song”. The chef who “takes the cake” in the pre-heat round gets a special advantage going into the main heat. 

The second round is a little harder, but also allows contestants a bit more time to complete. Often these rounds require a multi-step dessert or a larger item. The winner of the main heat is guaranteed a spot onto the next round, while the chef with the worst contribution to the round will be eliminated.

The show has inspired several spin-offs including a Halloween edition and a Kids Baking Championship too. The show is so popular it’s even been spoofed by SNL. 

The judging process is completed by a panel

Chef Duff Goldman
Chef Duff Goldman | Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for NYCWFF

Each chef’s culinary creation is judged on its appearance, its adherence to the theme, and its overall taste.  The chef must present his or her creation to the table of judges which include a variety of masters at their trade.

Nancy Fuller, who hosts Farmhouse Rules, Duff Goldman, who is the owner of Charm City Cakes, and lastly Carla Hall, who is a TV personality, chef and cookbook author. Jesse Palmer, the show’s host, also gets to try all the treats and offer his opinions.

Some fans think the judging is unfair

In all reality competitions fans develop their favorites, and baking challenges are no different. Entire Reddit threads are dedicated to which of this season’s bakers are the most talented, most personable and most likely to win. What seems to frustrate fans, no matter which contestant they are rooting for is the fact that there seems to be no consistency in the judges’ decisions over whom to send home.

Often, fans complain that better bakers are let go while those who have dropped the ball seem to be able to hang on to their undeserved spot.

Holiday Baking Championship judges could be biased

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One Reddit user gets right to the point with their complaints. “What’s with the contestant Juliana? She messes up, but the judges (especially Duff) seem to adore her…(her) cake looked really clunky, but the judges raved over her decoration.”

The fans’ biggest problem however was that they are annoyed when better bakers are eliminated, and those who shouldn’t be are still hanging around.

User, Lovelylala52 agrees. “I agree there is definitely bias. Juliana should have been eliminated 2 weeks back. She’s a home baker. Now there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a home baker, if you happen to have skills, which she doesn’t.”

Maybe the fans are being a little harsh on Juliana, but their frustrations are valid. If the judges have a biased opinion of the chefs based on their personalities or outside successes the entire show could be skewed.