Some people spend years perfecting pastry or learning to make a delightfully airy macaron, but 10 youngsters are about to prove that it doesn't have to take years to become a great baker. Pastry chef Duff Goldman and actress-turned-cooking-show-host Valerie Bertinelli put aspiring bakers to the test in the season premiere of "Kids Baking Championship," airing Monday, Jan. 4, on Food Network. The culinary competition pits kids ages 10 to 13 against each other in a quest to win a whopping $25,000.
The two hosts, both excellent cooks in their own right, mentor the mini-chefs throughout major challenges, which are designed to test their skills and creativity. Goldman and Bertinelli also serve as judges for the series, which is now in its second season.
"Duff and Valerie add even more flavor and fun, making this competition just as delectable as the amazing treats the kid bakers create," said Food Network executive Bob Tuschman.
Their treats are evaluated not only on taste but also on presentation and originality, and they have to be extra special this time around as Food Network has upped the ante with a bigger cash prize. Last season, the 12-year-old Hollis Johnson of Jacksonville, Florida, won $10,000, an industrial kitchen set and her cake in Duff's Charm City Cakes collection. With the stakes even higher this season, Food Network has expanded the program from four to eight episodes.
After the inaugural season's success, there are plenty of kids out there who want a piece of the season 2 pie. Representing a cross section of America, this season's young competitors include Rebecca Beale from Graham, Texas; Peggy Fischer from St. Johnsbury, Vermont; Jane Haviland from Ann Arbor, Michigan; Colby Lacasse of Blue Hill, Maine; Matthew Merril of Great Falls, Virginia; Alex Portis of Monroeville, Pennsylvania; Yahshimabet Sellassie-Hall of Oakland, California; Ryan Wilson of Danville, California; and Alex Alcorta and Emma Wensing, both from Austin, Texas.
In the season premiere, these young bakers must find just the right balance of crust and filling as they strive to create a perfect pie. However, midway through the challenge, Goldman and Bertinelli throw them for a loop when they ask them to also create a flavored ice cream to complement their pie.
Upcoming challenges involve delicately decorated eclairs, decadent chocolate desserts, elaborate cakes and more. Don't miss the pintsized fun beginning Monday, Jan. 4, on Food Network.