FINALLY "pumpkin spice" season has passed and the local stores aren't the only one thinking of the upcoming holidays. Food Network is rearing up to get us all in the mood with their newest series "Holiday Baking Championship" hosted by Bobby Deen on Sunday, November 9th. Along with judges Nancy Fuller, Duff Goldman, and Lorraine Pascale, Bobby will be on hand to cheer on eight competitors as they flaunt their skills with traditional holiday desserts all in the hopes to win a $50,000 prize. While we might not personally be in the mood for putting up a tree or lighting the candles just yet, we are in the mood for learning a few new recipes and kitchen tricks so we chatted it up with Bobby to see what the show has in store for us.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): The last time we talked you were not married so I wanted to say congrats although I feel like a lot of gals (me) might be sad….
Bobby Deen: Well thank you! I waited a long time and I've been married a little over a year but here's what I know. If your spouse makes you a better person, you've done well.
Well I'm glad to hear there is hope for us (me). I've seen all of the commercials and I'm sorry to be redundant but I'm going with it anyway. Can you break down the concept of the show in your words?
Of course! It's exactly what it sounds like. It's a holiday themed completion style show. Because, well, competition shows seem to be what everyone likes right now. What's neat about this show is that you see a lot of competitive cooking shows but you seldomly see a baking challenge. There are eight contestants, all from different walks of life, and we have a panel of three judges. It was just tons of fun to shoot. I would show up to each competition truly having no idea exactly what was going to happen or who was going home…but somebody had to leave, you know? Baking is such a precise and exact form of cooking and this show was made very difficult because these bakers found out what they'd have to bake just before they started. The time constraints made it very difficult as well.
How long is the actual time? I mean, I know on TV everything is sped up.
Well it's a very real time thing but in some instances, we'd have a pre-heat. Ultimately the challenges were an hour a piece. There were some that were longer, but I don't want to give away too much. It's just that some items were very intrigue, detailed, and you had to have a certain amount of time to do it. An hour is what you can really expect. You know, I've been around television for a long time and a lot of television is contrived and set up. This was very real. The times were very real. When I said, "Your time starts now," I would literally start a timer. It is high stakes because there is a $50,000 prize on the line and these people were all very competitive! They wanted it! [Laughs.]
With some of the challenges, are there advantages and disadvantages for some of the competitors?
Maybe! There might be that but again, I don't want to give away too much. Behind the eight ball, they didn't walk in with their own recipe. I'm not asking them to make your Aunt Myrtle's famous sugar cookies and put it up against this guy's cupcakes. That's not what it is. We're gonna tell you what to make and we're gonna tell you right before you start to make it. [Laughs.] Everybody is a little bit behind the eight ball. You do have people who are just really good home bakers and then there is someone who is a baking instructor. So yeah, there are different skill levels. They were all aware that they were stepping into a challenge that had very high stakes.
I can't wait to watch it because I like to think I am a really great cook but I'm the worst baker ever. And, I can't make rice. Those two things.
[Laughs.] That's hilarious! You know, they do make pretty decent boil in a bag rice!
[Laughs.] You know, people do say that a lot about baking, and I get it. I wouldn't want to do it under the circumstances that these people are doing it under either. For me, I like baking because the directions are very precise. Also if you mess it up, it's because you haven't paid attention. I'm a very detail oriented person. It was fascinating to watch these people though because I showed up to each episode really exciting and completely uncertain of what might happen. I didn't even know until just before the events what we'd be asking them to bake! This is as real as it gets.
I know you eat pretty healthy these days so did you gain any weight during the shooting? You know, snacking and such?
I didn't because fortunately, I was the host and not the judge. [Laughs.] The judges had to eat a lot of sweets but I was able to refrain if I wanted to. It was important to me to do that actually because I had to remain impartial in every way. I was more of an observer of everything. Like when the competition was going on, the judges were not able to be in the kitchen but I was able to stay in the kitchen, watch, interview, and guide the show.
It seems like it'd be so hard to not want to grab leftovers! Is it safe to assume that every baked item will have a holiday theme to it?
Yes there is. The ingredients are traditional and this show is very much a holiday themed show. Without giving too much away, there are holiday classics, pies, and there may or may not be an episode about gingerbread… [Laughs.]
Hey, I saw the commercials so I know there IS a gingerbread episode! This show is like CVS or Target, right after Halloween, they're all about Christmas.
That's right! [Laughs.] If you watch the first episode in the series, you'll watch every one. You'll be hooked. I literally showed up not knowing what was going to happen and I stayed excited for every show. It's a lot of fun.
Well it's no secret I'm all about the Food Network so I'm all in. I gotta ask you lastly about Duff Goldman. Is his laugh as maniacal in person as it is on TV? I want to hang out with him badly…
Oh it is! That is one diabolical mind right there! [Laughs.] He's a great guy with a really sharp sense of humor. He's really great to be around. He's just a really smart guy and I really enjoy being around smart people because I can learn from them. He and I have a similar sense of humor and the laugh, well, it is exactly what you think!
Be sure to tune in for "Holiday Baking Championship" on Food Network November 9th at 9/8c. For more info on the show, go to www.FoodNetwork.com, check out Bobby's website www.TheDeenBros.com, and follow him on Twitter @BobbyDeen.