Food Network is known for their edibly-intriguing content, but what the network may be most famous for is its culinary-based competition series—and “Spring Baking Championship” certainly reigns as one of the most popular from Food Network’s delicious repertoire.
Hosting the popular competition series for the second time this season is television personality, style expert and entrepreneur Clinton Kelly. Kelly pairs as perfectly with the show as cake does with icing, and there is a reason why—he truly just loves it.
Kelly sat down with Metro to discuss more on why he decided to come back to host and what fans can expect from the new season.
Why did you decide to sign on again for another season hosting “Spring Baking Championship”?
I had such a positive experience the first season that I decided I’d love to come back and do it again—especially after watching the show. I just thought, “Wow, this is really my kind of show in that it’s feel-good television that you can watch with your friends and family.” There’s no back-stabbing, no throat-cutting, it’s just a bunch of people who are really passionate about what they do and they do it really well. They’re making these beautiful desserts that are also delicious, and I get to be a vicarious eater of these desserts which is actually somehow strangely more satisfying than actually eating the dessert. There’s literally no guilt at all and I get to appreciate the whole product from start to finish.
For someone who has never seen the show, what would you tell them to expect?
I would say it’s a baking competition show, with 11 bakers vying for the title of ‘Best Spring Baker’ and also the prize of $25,000 so there’s that motivation. But it’s also the kind of show where all of the bakers are really excited for each other and as much as they want to win, they want everyone else to do well too. So, it’s just my kind of feel-good television.
Is there anything new this season that audiences can look out for?
The amazing thing about baking is that there are some real classic desserts, but there are—especially in this day of Instagram—trends that we start to see with every season. Like this year, you may not even know that geometric cakes are a big trend—well they are. Or even fault-lined cakes, that’s another one. Some of the bakers know what these trends are more than others, some of them are more classic bakers and other ones are trendier, so sometimes the trends will throw some people for a loop. But you think about it now, anybody is able to start a trend. If you think of an idea for a beautiful cake and post it, next thing you know your image is being carried from millions of people around the world, so it’s kind of an amazing time that we live in right now.
How is it working with the judges Nancy Fuller, Duff Goldman and Lorraine Pascale?
They’re great and they all come at it with very different perspectives. I think that Lorraine being classically trained, she really wants everything to be really precise. If you’re going to call something an entremet, it better be an entremet, or if you’re going to do a Swiss meringue it better be done with the right technique. I think that Duff is more sort of fascinated by flavor combinations or the way things have been constructed. Then Nancy sort of just loves how a dessert affects her emotionally. So they come at it with three different mindsets—one is more theoretical, one is more practical and one is more sensory and emotional. So it’s fun to watch them all deliberate.
What would you say are the most difficult aspects of the show for contestants?
One of my jobs as host is to throw them a twist from time to time. So they can be told alright, you’ve got to make a beautiful spring tart and then I come in halfway through and say here’s a twist, you guys have to now incorporate some kind of whacky ingredient. That really does throw some people off in a big way because you’ve decided what you’re going to do, but then you have somebody come in and have you add Rosemary or something to your dessert—it can really screw with them. And I feel bad, I always want to say before I announce these twists “Hello bakers, this was not my idea but…”
What are your favorite parts of hosting the show?
My favorite part of hosting the show is actually something that doesn’t even happen on camera. I stand there during the judging, and sitting next to me is Nancy Fuller, and I love watching Nancy eat a dessert that she loves because you can tell when she’s enjoying the heck out of it. What happens is we have this nonverbal communication. She looks at me and I can read her mind when she’s just like you have to try this. What she’ll do is she’ll give me a spoon and she will make me the most perfectly composed bite where there’s just a bit of cake and there’s just a bit of frosting and there’s a little bit of the jam or something, it’s just perfectly composed and my kind of dessert. I think it’s a hoot and it makes me smile on the inside when she does that.
“Spring Baking Championship” is said to be one of Food Network’s most popular series, why do you think that is?
I just think people want shows that they can watch with their families and that they can feel good about when they finish watching it. In an hour you get to watch all of these amazing desserts being made and consumed and people being praised for what they do and what they’re passionate about. Who doesn’t want to watch that? I try to have as much of a raport with the bakers as I possibly can and interact with them as human beings, and I think people respond to that [as well].
Overall, what do you hope people take away from the show?
A couple of things. Number one I want people to tap into their own curiosity of what they can make in their own kitchens. I think that’s what I love about it, when I return home from hosting the show I get in the kitchen and start making stuff. It’s fun to do, and I want people to be inspired. Also, if people have a dream they can achieve it—if you’re dream is to be a professional baker, you can do it. Some of these people on the show are self-taught bakers who created their own businesses. They may have a bakery that they run or a catering company that they run, or they do wedding cakes. Some are classically trained and some are self-taught, but basically what I want people to know is that you can be anything you want to be if you put a ton of passion into it.
“Spring Baking Championship” premieres March 9 at 9 pm ET on Food Network