Tennessee Tech students featured in “Baking It” TV baking competition

From left, Tennessee Tech students Allen Speigner and Matt Bardoner prepare to compete on "Baking It." (Photo courtesy Peacock/Jordin Althaus)Tennessee Tech University students and roommates Allen Speigner of Dickson, Tennessee, and Matt Bardoner of Chattanooga, Tennessee, are making their television debut Monday, Dec. 12, on Peacock’s baking show “Baking It,” season two.

Speigner, a human development and family sciences major, and Bardoner, an exercise science major, both traveled to California back in October to participate in the competition with seven other pairs of bakers for a chance at the $50,000 grand prize. 

The show is hosted and executively produced by Emmy-winning actresses and comedians Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler. This season they were also joined by fellow stars Fred Armisen, Kristen Bell, Nicole Richie and JB Smoove.

It all started when Speigner got a message through his Instagram page @allenxspeigner, which he has been using to showcase his cooking skills. The man messaging him introduced himself as a casting manager from NBC.

“Allen thought it was a scam at first,” said Bardoner, “but after looking up the guy's name he found out that it was actually real. He had a phone call with him and the casting manager asked Allen if he would like to be on the show.”

On the resulting phone interview, Speigner confessed to the man that he didn’t typically bake – his strength was in cooking. The casting manager simply asked him if he could learn quickly. When Speigner confirmed he could, he was then told to find someone to bring as a co-baker for the competition.

“After Allen got off that call, he called me and asked me if I wanted to fly out to Los Angeles with him to be on a baking show and I was like, ‘Absolutely, let’s do it,’” Bardoner said.

Before they received the official invitation to be one pair of the competitors, the two had to record a video to introduce themselves, do a Zoom interview, and record an audition challenge that showed them working together. Finally, they were offered the spot on the show and flew out to Burbank, California, to film at the NBC studio there.

“Allen and I are not experienced bakers at all,” Bardoner said. “Before Allen was reached out to, neither of us had really baked anything before. Allen and I cooked quite a bit together but never really baked anything. We had done those boxed cakes and cupcakes before and whatnot, but we had never made a cake or anything like that entirely from scratch before. The recording of the audition challenge was the first cake we made entirely from scratch.”

Bardoner and Speigner can’t reveal how well they did in the competition, however they can say their favorite experience from the show was meeting all their fellow contestants who became lifelong friends in the time they were together. Bardoner adds that he felt like his time at Tennessee Tech has helped prepare him for this unexpected opportunity.

“I am naturally an introvert and prefer to work on stuff by myself,” he said, “but with all of the group work I have had to do for my classes, it prepared me for working with all of the other people on set – whether it be the make-up department, the wardrobe department, the mic and camera production department, or even with Allen. Tech taught me how to properly and effectively communicate and work with others to get things done in an efficient manner.”

The first episode of “Baking It”, season two, can be streamed on Peacock’s website at The rest of the five-episode show will drop weekly beginning Dec. 12.

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