"You Won't Believe How Good These Kids Are" — Duff Goldman Speaks Out About Kids Baking Championship

Find out what Duff Goldman had to say about mentoring and judging kid bakers in the new series Kids Baking Championship.
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Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Eddy Chen, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Baking is oftentimes referred to as a science or a discipline, a craft that must be learned with years of experience. That's exactly how Duff Goldman described it in our recent interview with him to chat about Kids Baking Championship, premiering Monday, Feb. 2 at 8|7c. When you add kids to the baking equation, you might assume it won't work, and that was Duff's initial thought as well. But in the case of this new series, you will soon see it's more than just possible. These kids are actually good — and not just "good for kids," as Duff said, but "good, period."

Kids Baking Championship proves that young kids can bake — and compete — just like their adult counterparts, and what's even more surprising is that they do it all with the most-remarkable "poise," as Duff pointed out. It's not a stretch to say they probably act more grown-up than most adults do in the throes of competition. Read on to find out what Duff had to say about the series and the impressive group of kids.

FN Dish: What was your initial reaction to hearing that the next installment of Baking Championship would involve kids?

Duff Goldman: I have to tell you I was dubious, because I've been working my whole life, as a baker and a pastry chef. I've been doing this for a long time, and it's taken me many years and many failures to learn the things that I've learned. So when they told me about Kids Baking Championship, I'm like, "Wow, that's going to be really interesting." Baking is a discipline; it takes years to get good at. And these guys walked in, these little kids, and they were incredible. Absolutely, from the get-go they just blew me away [with] their poise. They weren't at all freaked out by the cameras. They're in this crazy situation and their food looked good. It was good. It wasn't [just] good for kids; it was good, period. There were several times in the competition where I was like, "I bet if I was competing alongside all of these kids, I might win." These kids obviously watch Food Network. But they were way beyond that; they read cookbooks, they understood, they do this stuff at home a lot. You can see it in the way they move, you can see it in the way they handled themselves, their equipment, their food and the way that they thought about their food. Their thinking was very complex. These kids were better at 11 and 12 years old than I was when I graduated [from] culinary school. It was pretty impressive.

How was it judging the kids and then having to eliminate them?

DG: It was terrible! So I'm judging this with Valerie Bertinelli, and we've been friends for a while and I was like, "C'mon, Val, you got to send them home," and she's like, "Nope, that's not my job. I'm the mom! You've got to send them home." I'm like "Ugh, Valerie made me do it." With adults it's just like, "You've got to go home." But with kids, you're like, "No!" And the thing is, the kids who would be eliminated would run up and give you a big hug, they'd high-five all their friends, wave to everybody, including the camera guys they became friends with, and off they go. "That's cool, what's next?" They're so much cooler than adults. I thought they'd stomp their feet and cry and throw things at me.

What was the best part about filming the series for you?

DG: [By] the second episode we were filming, I realized these kids have this enthusiasm in them that all professional chefs have. But we're sort of taught by the medium and the world to contain that enthusiasm sometimes because it's not seemly, it's not professional to be that excited about something. That's obviously never something I've agreed with or paid attention to. When I get enthusiastic, I show it — because I am also a 12-year-old. I realized, watching these guys, why I was having so much fun … . [It] was because they were so enthusiastic and so excited about what they were doing, and they were very vocal about it. That was one of those things that you miss, because adults want to be tough, adults want to play the mind game, they want to get in your head, they want to get that edge. Whereas kids are like, "I'm baking muffins, this is awesome!" Adults are like, "I'm going to use a 40 percent milk chocolate and 90 percent dark chocolate to achieve the maximum texture." It's like "Shut up, make me a chocolate muffin, c'mon, be excited about it." And I think that's really what it was, seeing that the kids were so uninhibited, they hadn't been taught by the world of food competition that you need to be dour. Nobody was dour. These kids were super-excited, and they were good. That was the biggest thing. When you see it, your mouth is going to hit the floor. You won't believe how good these kids are.

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