At the start of Duff Goldman’s new Food Network show, Kids Baking Championship, which premieres at 8 p.m. Tuesday, eight pint-sized pastry-chef contestants are lined up onstage to meet their co-hosts, Goldman and actress Valerie Bertinelli.
As the two make their entrance, a trembling boy whispers to the child next to him, “I didn’t think they were real.”
Yeah, some of the kids are too precocious and precious for words — and almost all are playing to the cameras. But you have to smile at the 12-year-old who says, “I’ve never been in the same room with three other boys that love baking as much as I do.” Or, there’s the 10-year-old who has his own pastry business and says he’s making $200 to $500 at each bake sale he works.
And there’s nothing warm and fuzzy about the way Goldman treats them.
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“I am the professional pastry chef, and I look at everything with professional eyes,” Goldman recently told The Baltimore Sun. “My job was to look at what these kids are baking as a pastry chef. Not as a guy who loves kids. Not as a guy who is a big 12-year-old.”
As for Bertinelli, “Valerie got to be more like the voice of reason,” added the former Ace of Cakes star. “She could actually talk to kids.”
The idea of pairing the two came from executives at the Food Network, even though he had been friends with the two-time Golden-Globe-winning actress for years. Bertinelli’s TV résumé dates back to 1975 when One Day at a Time debuted on CBS with her as a kid actress. And she’s still going strong as Melanie Moretti in Hot in Cleveland.
“I met her while filming Ace of Cakes,” Goldman said of his show set in his Baltimore bakery, Charm City Cakes. “I met her at a party, and we kept in touch. She was like, ‘Oh, my God, I love your show.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I had a crush on you when I was, like, 5.’”
Goldman will also be at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival joining buddy Rachael Ray at Amstel Light Burger Bash at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach Feb. 20 and doing cooking demos over the weekend at Fun and Fit as a Family at Jungle Island.