Food is a basic need, and every culture has its recipes that spark the interest of others. Television has made learning how to cook and bake possible and sometimes watching the experts compete is a thrill in itself. Among the baking competitions is “Best Baker in America” and here are a few facts about the show that has returned to our screens.
1. Jason Smith will be the celebrity judge
When Courier-journal caught up with Jason Smith, he was working on a new kitchen for his Carter County home because according to Jason, one can never have enough kitchens. Jason came to the limelight through competing in “Food Network Stars” which he won in its 13th season. He must have impressed the Food Network creators because he has been the judge of “Best Baker in America” since its first season in 2017.
2. Josh Livsey will be a contestant
When Maslow’s hierarchy of needs put the need for self-actualization at the top, he must have foreseen the hunger in Josh Livsey to be declared the best baker in America. Josh is an executive pastry chef who is already known for the confections at Harvest, a hot spot in Cambridge, as well as for being the finalist on the fourth season of “Holiday Baking Championship.” However he still wants the title of “Best Baker in America”, and as the Boston Herald reports, Josh believes he deserves it because of his passion and although Josh is young, his decade of experience prepares him for the challenges.
3. Each episode will have a special guest pastry judge
While the two chief judges are constant, each episode will feature a new pastry chef judge maybe to remain impartial. However, they are not just any pastry chefs but are highly-qualified. Take for instance Florian Bellanger; although his chocolate allergy in childhood suppressed his baking passion for six years, today he is the co-owner of Mad Mac Macarons and has worked as an executive pastry chef in Fauchon candy shop. Other expert pastry chef judges include Valerie Gordon and Zac Young.
4. The prize money is $25,000
Some reality cooking competition shows are very generous with their prizes. At “Hells’ Kitchen” the winner gets $250,000 cash and the chance to be an executive chef at a restaurant, while at “Top Chef” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_Chef) the prize money started as $100,000 but increased to $125,000 from the sixth season onwards. In this show, the contestants compete for the prize of $25,000 which is considerably low, but since they are all bakers in their own right, maybe all they want is the title.
5. The final challenge will be a 4th of July-themed baking challenge
Each episode will expose the contestants to new challenges, and when the show premiered, the first challenge was to bake ideal mini-Princess cakes. Of course, as the show progresses the challenges will become more complex. We now await the second challenge which will be to use elderflower and lemon as flavors in making an over-the-top Royal Baby Celebration cake for 100 cakes. When the show announces its winner, it will be after the remaining contestants compete to bake a 4th of July-themed cake and of course the best will take home the prize.
6. The third season premiered on 13 May 2019
The show has been on since 2017 when it first premiered on September 27. It must have obtained an impressive rating because it returned for the second season in 2018 on May 7 and now it has returned for the third season that premiered on May 13, 2019. The winners of the first two seasons were men, with the first season’s winner being Dwayne Ingraham and in the second season, Adam Young walked away with the $25,000. We hope that at least this time a woman will showcase her talents and be crowned the winner.
7. It will air on the Food Network
The Food Network made its debut in 1993 and went from being number 20 in 2005 to 9 in 2010, among the highest-rated cable networks in primetime across all age groups, as New York Times reported. Now that other channels like Bravo have decided to create spin-offs such as “Top Chef” it is only in the best interest of the network to keep us glued with thrilling episodes on great shows such as “Best Baker in America” which continues to be among the top-rated on the Food Network.
8. Scott Conant, the host, is also a chef
When the series first aired, the host was Adam Rapoport, an editor of Bon Appetit magazine. However, he did not return for the second season, and most likely the producers preferred to have someone with the right command of the kitchen to host the program; hence Scott Conant replaced him. Of course, it makes sense to have someone with baking knowledge to tell us what is going on and Scott is a chef famous for his Italian restaurant, Scarpetta, in New York.
9. All contestants are professional bakers
Being crowned the best means one must compete with the best and that is a feat the show is willing to help the contestants achieve by engaging only professional bakers in the competition. In this season the contestants include Casey Renee, who is a pastry chef at Whitfield at Ace Hotel in Pittsburg, Edet Okon who owns Edet Okon and is a freelance cake artist and seven others who are top chefs.
10. The other judge, Marcela Valladolid is also a chef and author
According to BuzzFeed when Marcela worked at her aunt’s cooking school in Mexico as a dishwasher and prep cook, the interest in food grew in her, and she began writing cookbooks to make Mexican recipes accessible to all. It is her first cookbook published in 2009 that caught the Food Network’s attention and led to her hosting her own television show, “Mexican Made Easy.” She now is the judge alongside Jason Smith in “Best Baker in America.”