Behind the Scenes of Kids Baking Championship

Duff Goldman and Valerie Bertinelli love hosting Kids Baking Championship — but it’s no cakewalk.

Photo By: Adam Rose ©© 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Adam Rose ©© 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Adam Rose ©© 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Adam Rose ©© 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Adam Rose ©© 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Go Behind the Scenes with Duff and Valerie

There are a few things you can count on when you watch Kids Baking Championship: adorable contestants, surprisingly grown-up desserts and, inevitably, some tears. Usually it's the kids who cry, but during the third season, Duff gets emotional too. "They were just baking their hearts out. I couldn't help it," he says. It's easy to understand why he and co-host Valerie Bertinelli become so attached to their pintsize proteges: The two stars not only host the show, but they also serve as mentors and judges, spending up to six hours a day critiquing, consoling and, yes, even crying with the contestants. "These kids have such backbone," says Duff. "If you were to critique my food the way we do theirs, I'd be like, 'You're wrong!'" Valerie agrees: "I could never be as poised as they are." Take a look behind the scenes.

No Help Allowed

"A few times I've begged our producer to let me help someone and she always tells me no," Valerie says. The only time the hosts can step in is when a contestant is clearly losing it, but even then, they can just offer encouragement, not instruction. Duff tries his hardest to be helpful, though. In previous seasons, he has snuck in pointers on how to use the fondant sheeter and level a cake.

Kids Come Prepared

"They've studied previous seasons of the show, they read, they watch videos on YouTube — they know stuff I didn't even learn in pastry school!" Duff says. Some impressive moves: working with isomalt (a sugar substitute) to create sugar art, and using Versawhip (a favorite among cutting-edge chefs) to make foam.

Adult Moves

The show is filmed for about a month during the summer at the same studio where adult baking competitions are shot, and nothing is scaled down. The baking stations, equipment and pantry are all standard size. The only concession for kid contestants: They can stand on crates if they’re too short to reach the counter.

The Critiques Are Intense

Both hosts observe every challenge from start to finish, whether it’s a 30-minute cookie contest or a four-hour cake bake. And Duff and Valerie give each dish an in-depth 20-minute critique — only a minute or two of which makes it onto the show!

Duff Makes the Cut

Although both judges' opinions are weighed evenly, Duff reveals who gets eliminated. "Day one, Season 1, Valerie came in and said she couldn't cut anyone," says Duff. "It's too hard for me," says Valerie. "And Duff does such a good job, you can see his heart bleeding while he does it."

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