A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to interview Marcela Valladolid, a seriously incredible person. Not only is she a gifted chef, she is also a mom too. So, why would she leave her warm and cozy home in Mexico to spend a very cold day in NYC? Marcela was in town promoting a new CBS summer reality series, The American Baking Competition. Hosted by comedian Jeff Foxworthy, Marcela will be joining Paul Hollywood, the star UK baker and current judge of the British series.
The competition series based on the format of the hit UK show “The Great British Bake Off” premieres tonight, May 29, (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
THE AMERICAN BAKING COMPETITION will feature skilled amateurs competing in baking challenges with one ultimately being crowned the winner. Not only will they be recognized for their baking expertise, but they will also be awarded a $250,000 Grand Prize and a Publishing Contract with Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books. Now that is sweet!
Who are these amateur bakers and how did they get to be on this show?
The 10 bakers were chosen from a nationwide search of amateur bakers at local casting bake-offs. Proving the joy of baking’s broad appeal, the six female and four male home bakers have varied lives and jobs, including a firefighter, photographer, homemaker, attorney, advertiser, home health care provider, college student, retiree, project manager and a baking enthusiast trying to go pro. Hmmm, maybe my husband, the chief baker in our home, should try out for the next season?
Each week, THE AMERICAN BAKING COMPETITION will feature these passionate home bakers competing in three unique challenges – “Signature Bake,” “Technical Bake” and “Showstopper Bake.” The contestant who out-bakes the rest is that week’s “Star Baker,” while the one whose creations fail to impress is eliminated. The final challenge will be between the three remaining contestants, one of whom will go on to be crowned the best amateur baker in America!
This sounds so incredible, and I had the chance to schmooze with Marcela Valladolid about being a judge in this show. I found out that in addition to being an accomplished chef who specializes in the artistry of traditional Mexican cuisine, she is dedicated to showing the world that Mexican food is more than just a burrito and fried beans. I told her that even though I keep a strictly kosher diet, I also strive to share that Jewish food is more than just matzo balls and brisket.
I started off by asking Marcela how she got inspired to work with food. She shared with me that her grandfather traveled to Europe and brought back cookbooks with the local ingredients, cheeses, and pastries used. It was those recipes that ‘wet her pallet’ and sparked her interest with tastes from other parts of the world. How could she apply that as a student of architecture? Once again, the answer was within her family. She dropped out of architecture school and her passion for the culinary world really began at her aunt’s cooking school
in Baja, Mexico. While Marcela was there, she really got the cooking experience she craved. From learning about all of the kitchen gadgets, to watching how each recipe came to life. It was obvious that her passion for cooking was not just a ‘flash in the pan’. Marcela went on to attend the Los Angeles Culinary Institute, followed by some additional training at the Ritz Escoffier Cooking School in Paris to become trained as a classical French pastry chef. Natural and passionate charisma led Marcela to be the host of Discovery en Español’s “Relatos con Sabor,” before hosting her own Food Network series, “Mexican Made Easy,” which premiered in 2010. She also served as a food editor at Bon Appétit magazine. Wanting to share her expertise on great Mexican food that combines freshness and flavor with ease in the kitchen, she published FRESH MEXICO: 100 Simple Recipes for True Mexican Flavor in 2009 and Mexican Made Easy in 2011. Marcela is very appreciative of the people that helped her achieve her dream, like Martha Stewart. In fact, she was a contestant on “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart”.
Marcela is very busy with a multitude of projects while juggling the roles of motherhood. Even with her busy schedule, she has made it a priority to attend all of her son’s special programs and events. While I was taking notes, Marcela giggled at my notebook; my daughter had left me a picture in it!
She only has one regret; she wasn’t able to attend one of his spelling bees. Thanks to modern mobile technology, she was able to listen along from where she was. I really admire a woman like Marcela and how she loves what she does. Marcela shared with me that she feels that food will come out the way the chef is feeling when they are cooking. I love that, as cooking should not be a chore, but a treat.
If you will be watching tonight, tweet along with
Jeff Foxworthy @foxoutdoors and others:
Official Twitter: @BakeOnCBS
CBS Twitter: @CBSTweet
Cast on Twitter:
Jeff Foxworthy @foxoutdoors
Paul Hollywood @Hollywoodbaker