Kardea Brown gives a glimpse into Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown, exclusive

On the new Food Network show, Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown, Kardea Brown joins host Jesse Palmer and fellow judges Nacho Aguirre and Breegan Jane to stand in awe of these holiday gingerbread creations. While gingerbread houses are often a family holiday favorite, these impressive displays capture the wonder and delight that sugar, flour and butter can create.

During a recent conversation with Kardea Brown, the chef and Food Network personality shared that she learned a lot as one of the judges. While she discovered “lots of tricks,” one item really stood out.

Brown said, “the most important trick is to build your Gingerbread house in a cool and dry environment. Any signs of moisture in the room will cause your house to swell and ultimately fall.”

Even though the environment is critical to ensuring a strong structure, the creativity is usually the wow factor in these holiday baking championship competitions. A simple structure that can be made with a kit is not what the judges want to see.

Still, Brown commented that she was “surprised by the bakers’ approach to the challenges.” They were very innovative and creative. I must say, everyone thought outside of the box. Viewers will see nothing boring and typical on this show.”

With all the holiday programs on the Food Network, viewers are always looking for new, innovative ideas. At the same time, the reality is that many viewers watch these show to get a trick to take their holiday treats to the next level.

Kardea Brown on Holiday Baking Championship Gingerbread Showdown

Judges Kardea Brown, Breegan Jane and Nacho Aguirre examine Maryanne and Meg’s Gingerbread house, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship Gingerbread Showdown, Season 1. Image courtesy Food Network

How does Kardea Brown boost the flavor in gingerbread?

Even if that gingerbread house is pre-made, a few ideas can make that boring disappear. Although candy is often a traditional decoration, Brown has a different idea.

Brown shared, “I love incorporating mint to my gingerbread house. It’s classic and evokes feelings of nostalgia.” That simple idea of adding an aroma to the gingerbread house is genius. Just like many holiday recipes and dishes entice with a particular smell, that added mint to the gingerbread display will draw everyone to the table.


Although some gingerbread is for display only, others love a little gingerbread man cookie or other treat during the holidays. One of the keys to a great gingerbread cookie is the spice. But, each recipe is a little different.

For Brown, her secret ingredient is not quite typical. Brown said, “I love adding mace to my gingerbread recipe. It provides a flavor that I think makes the recipe really pop.”

For those unfamiliar, mace is a spice from the red, lacy coating of a nutmeg seed. It is often used in Caribbean, Indian and even Moroccan cuisine. While it is similar to nutmeg, it isn’t quite as sweet.

Kardea Brown gingerbread house holiday tradition

In many families, that afternoon spent assembling gingerbread houses with a mug of hot cocoa is a holiday tradition. Whether more candy is eaten versus placed on the cookie is debatable, but the laughter and memories made around the table is the most important part.

For Brown, she has fond memories and a holiday tradition centered around gingerbread houses. Brown shared the following story.

“When I was a little girl my grandmother would buy a gingerbread house for me a few days before Christmas. We would sit at her kitchen table and assemble the house together; it wouldn’t be the best-looking house on the block. But I thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent with one another. It’s a tradition I hope to continue with my future family.”

From a simple gingerbread house to the confectionery fantasies on Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown, it is the perfect time to start making some new holiday traditions around the traditional holiday treat.


Be sure to watch Holiday Baking Championship: Gingerbread Showdown on Food Network, Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET or stream it on discovery+. In addition, Kardea Brown can be seen on Delicious Miss Brown and the upcoming Great Soul Food Cook-Off.