The Truth About Marilyn Santos McNabb From Holiday Baking Championship Season 8

From what we know so far, Food Network's "Holiday Baking Championship Season 8" is full of festive dessert challenges to keep sweet-loving viewers hooked. In general, culinary competitions seem to involve a rollercoaster of emotions for contestants. According to Insider, judges often don't know what obstacles participants have gone through during the cooking process. This can be challenging for cooks, as the people tasting their creations don't always have the full context when scoring their work. "It's really sad," said "Holiday Baking Championship" judge Carla Hall. While viewers can see when bakers run out of time or make mistakes, "we don't know that and we're judging based on the final product," she added.

Viewers are also able to learn background information about contestants that judges might not always see. In the "Holiday Baking Championship's" eighth season, a dozen participants compete in pastry challenges to win the top $25,000 prize, explains the Food Network. One of those competitors is Marilyn Santos McNabb, a pastry chef with extensive baking experience.

McNabb has a pastry teaching background

According to Food Network, Chicago-based Marilyn Santos McNabb has worked as a pastry chef for three decades. If she emerges victorious in the "Holiday Baking Championship," she'd like to add the prize money to her retirement fund. Outside of baking, she loves her garden and often uses it as inspiration while designing her edible creations, which means you can expect lots of vibrant colors and garnishes in her dishes. Based on a recent Instagram post about a few of her plants, she plans to continue baking well into her retirement. "In the future, when I am very old and grey, I expect to make mango and lemon mousse with vanilla beans from [the] seedling I started," she wrote in the caption.

Scroll through McNabb's Instagram to get a feel for the elaborate pastries she might make on "Holiday Baking Championship" Season 8. The dessert expert, who used to teach pastry arts at Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago, according to her blog, clearly enjoys constructing realistic buildings, towering cakes, and detailed cookies out of flour, sugar, and her imagination.