Dec 8, 2021
Engineering sweet treats for Netflix’s Baking Impossible
Lighting design meets baking, as Sara Schonour struts her stuff in a reality cooking competition series. Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

When Netflix released the reality cooking competition series Baking Impossible in October, members of the lighting industry may have recognized a familiar face on their TV screens. IES Member Sara Schonour, VP of education and engagement for Lytei, was among the group of nine teams—each consisting of one seasoned baker and one expert engineer (known together as “Bakineers”) tasked with baking delicious creations that could also survive engineering stress tests, for the chance of winning a $100,000 prize.

Schonour’s latest stint came unexpectedly, and amidst a year of unknowns. “If you told me at the beginning of the pandemic that the circumstances would lead to me being on a reality baking show on Netflix, I would have been the first to laugh,” Schonour says. “But here we are, and I couldn’t be more proud to be representing the lighting design community on the world’s stage.”

Sample weekly challenges included making edible floating boats and baked skyscrapers that could withstand a simulated earthquake. For the only lighting professional in the group, the experience doubled as an educational opportunity. “I got all the questions we get just about every day in our profession—‘You’re a lighting designer! Fascinating! So, you do what, exactly?’ ” Schonour recalls. “But I had a chance to demonstrate some of the ways that lighting can bring magic to any situation. My partner, Rodolfo, ‘got it’ immediately, and from the get-go he embraced not only incorporating, but featuring, lighting in all of our challenges.”