Penn State Alum Wins Grand Prize for Netflix Original Series “Baking Impossible”


What do you get when you combine a duo of bakers and engineers? The bakers, of course.

Baking Impossible is a Netflix original series that debuted its first season in early October. In each episode, baker-engineer duos compete to design edible creations that must survive engineering stress tests.

Judges rate creations based on taste, design and functionality, and decide the fate of Team Bakineer who will win $ 100,000 at the end of the show.

The show is hosted by Justin Williams, a magician, comedian, producer and TV personality who has appeared on The Tonight Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Conan. Williams is joined by three judges who range from astrophysicists to former Great British Bake Off competitors.


Former Penn State student Sara Schonour appeared on the show as a member of one of Bakineer’s nine pairs and won the grand prize.

Schonour is originally from Buffalo, New York, and graduated in architectural engineering in 2017. When not studying for her five-year program, Schonour enjoyed being involved with Pennharmonics and working behind the scenes at the Eisenhower Auditorium while at Penn State.

After graduating, Schonour moved to Boston to work for CannonDesign for 14 years, where she launched and ran her Lighting Studio. Today, she works at a start-up, Lytei, where the team tells stories that reinforce ideas about light and lighting. Specifically, she focuses on creative direction, education and project management for the business.

The Baking Impossible casting team reached out to Schonour by email in March. While she initially thought it was a hoax, she jumped at the chance when she realized it was legit and flew to California to compete.

Although engineering was his strong suit, Schonour grew up with grandmothers, aunts and a mother who loved to cook. Fortunately, she was therefore introduced to the basics of pastry making. His wife also loves to cook, so Schonour had some experience as an assistant baker and cookie decorator.

“I’m much more talented as a cook where I can be more spontaneous with my creations and rotate when I need to while keeping a dish,” said Schonour. “But, I have great respect for bakers because of their inherent knowledge of chemistry and the crazy things that happen in an oven.”


Courtesy of shonour

Schonour’s Bakineer partner was Rodolfo, a fan favorite. He pushed her to step out of her comfort zone and think boldly. The duo had great faith in each other in their respective areas of expertise.

Despite their natural chemistry, the duo have faced a number of challenges along the way. The pressure, especially with the cameras watching, was great for Schonour. Bakers didn’t know the details of every challenge ahead of time, so the overwhelming nature of the unknown was difficult at times. But, the couple’s mutual respect contributed to the success of their collaboration.

Schonour’s favorite episode to participate was the finale, as she could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and all their hard work. The mini-golf episode followed closely due to its theme and collaborative nature.

Asked about her favorite part of the competition on the show, Schonour said: “The surreality of it all… The scale of the setting, the legitimacy of the setting up of light and sound, the hundreds of teams doing so much behind the scenes, the unlimited pantry and workshop, the famous judges, being driven to and from the hotel, bonding deeply with the cast.

“It all sounds like such a fantasy when I look back,” she continued. “Like… was it real?” Did it really happen? And winning wasn’t too bad either!


Courtesy of shonour

Schonour and his wife, Shantel, are currently rehabilitating a second property to create the renovator of their dreams. Naturally, the architectural engineer devotes a large portion of his income to the project, including off-grid structures and tiny houses on the property.

On the advice side, Schonour encourages others to follow their passions.

“We can often be our worst critics and our worst friends,” she said. “Over the past few years, I’ve learned that I need to retrain my brain and become my own best friend and my best cheerleader, and I’ve discovered that most of the limits that I thought existed only existed in my spirit. My advice would be to take the time to find and follow the things that appeal to you, and when they do, don’t be afraid to go for it. You will probably surprise yourself with where you land … I certainly did.

To verify Cooking not possible on Netflix for a preview of Schonour’s creations. Plus, keep your eyes peeled for contestant Renee Frohnert, another Penn State alumnus who appeared on this season’s show.

Colleen is a biology student in York, Pennsylvania and is one of the associate editors of Onward State. She abuses the ~ tilde ~ and aspires to be none other than the great Guy Fieri. You can find Colleen filling her gas tank at Rutter’s, Pennsylvania’s ~ upper ~ gas station. Please direct your questions or concerns to [email protected]


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