Crestview resident to appear on Peacock cooking show

CRESTVIEW – “GiGi” Sherri Williams finds some pastries to be a bit more GiGiDiggity than others.

#GiGiDiggity was the Crestview resident’s catchphrase while judging for Peacock’s “Baking It,” a six-episode holiday baking special from NBC’s “Making It” creators Maya Rudolph and Andy Samberg. In the show, the bakers compete to win a big cash prize.

“If you get a GiGiDiggity, that’s amazing, OK,” Williams said. “What I love about the show is that they really show you off and no matter how old you are, it’s just your passion. I never thought I’d be doing this now. I’m just doing this which I love to do, and then it happened, and here I am in Crestview and enjoying it to the fullest.

“Baking It” airs Dec. 3 on NBC. Follow Williams on Instagram @cookingwithloveandpassion.

Williams didn’t know they were casting for the show until a production worker reached out to her via Instagram direct message in April, she said. They knew her from various Food Network TV appearances and cooking contests.

“I’m not a real cake decorator, but it’s pastry; they are savory and sweet baked goods,” Williams said. “She said, ‘If that’s something you’re interested in, I can set up a zoom call with casting.

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After a series of Zoom calls and chemistry tests with potential castmates, Williams found out she had booked the show in July. She was chosen as one of four “stubborn grandmothers” to judge the competition.

“I was the baby,” Williams said. “They loved my personality,” they said. And I have a good knowledge of food in general, and I’ve won a lot of contests. One thing (is), they want you to be your absolute, unassuming self. If you swear, they want you to swear. They don’t want you scripted, so I think that’s why chose me.

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The show is winter holiday themed, incorporating Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, Williams said. It features eight teams of two competing each episode in a quick-cooking challenge for a special prize and a longer, more difficult challenge to determine which team is eliminated.

“You have siblings, father and son, Indian couple, gay couple, two brothers, twins,” Williams said. “When people watch this show, this wonderful holiday show, you’ll be watching America. I’ve never been on such a diverse show. You really get to learn about the life of the contestants, the way they were raised, the traditions which they did over the holidays, which was really good. A lot of the baking they do, it reflects them.

“I think when people see the different competitors they will see themselves, and I think that’s really important.”

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Williams recorded the show for two weeks in mid-August under strict COVID-19 protocols at Universal Studios in Burbank, Calif. The show takes place in a log cabin.

“The scenery was so beautiful,” Williams said. “I’ve judged before, but with all my cooking experience, judging and doing a lot of cooking, I could understand exactly what the contestants were going through, especially when you have a camera in your face and you’re trying to cook and try to think about what you are doing, as it can be stressful.

The contestants were like family, and Williams became close with the other judges.

“We had so much fun,” she said. “We stayed until 3 am talking, seriously, drinking and having fun. We played charades. (Now) we talk all the time.

Her favorite part was judging baked goods and seeing competitors apply feedback.

“I’ve never eaten so many sweets in my fucking life,” Williams said. “Amazing cakes and pies. You could see they really enjoyed being there and cooking in front of people. Most of them had never really competed, so they’re like home bakers. They are not professional bakers, but their talent is incredible. One of the best parts was also tasting their food and then understanding their tradition and how they made it. I could die and go to heaven right now, and I would be totally satisfied.

After the taping was done, Williams traveled to Los Angeles to visit her two grandchildren: Marcheline (aka Charlie), 2, and Evangeline (aka Evie), 6. She suspects they’ll love the show.

“It was so wonderful,” Williams said. “And they’re going to be so excited, because they love getting into the kitchen – especially Evie, she cooks with me and stuff. Evie, even at her age, also loves watching baking shows.

Williams calls “Baking It” a true family show.

“It’s going to evoke all kinds of emotions,” she said. “You’re going to see a lot of laughs and smiles and jokes and a lot of tears too. You know how the holidays just conjure up that feeling of lost people and stuff.

Watching it will also be a family affair. Williams plans to see the premiere with her sisters and nieces in Virginia while she’s there for her sister’s 60th birthday.

“I just can’t wait to see my family,” she said. “We weren’t able to do our family reunions because of COVID.”

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Food brings people together, Williams said. She thinks viewers will enjoy the show.

“I hope the show can fix what’s broken in America right now; the importance of family, friends, vacations and dating,” Williams said. “The holidays aren’t just about the gifts you get; it’s the time you can spend with your family and friends. This is the most important thing. All the frills and all that, no. Spending that time with your family or friends, that’s what it’s all about.

Williams had a great experience with the show, especially being pampered with fancy dressing rooms and personal hair and makeup artists.

“Seriously, in all of my foodie adventures, this is by far the best,” Williams said. “You really felt special. It’s like, ‘Here I am, Sherrie Williams from Danville, Virginia – that’s where I was raised – and here I am now, living my best GiGiDiggity life.