Foodies have a new TV obsession to look forward to this summer in The American Baking Competition, debuting this week on CBS. Based on the UK hit series The Great British Bake-Off, the culinary competition brings together six female and four male contestants from a diverse array of backgrounds, from firefighter to photographer, to crown the most talented, undiscovered baker in the U.S.!
Related: Meet The Great 'American' Bakers
ETOnline caught up with TABC judge Marcela Valladolid, an accomplished chef known for her work on the small screen as the host of Discovery en Español's Relatos con Sabor, and host of her own Food Network series, Mexican Made Easy, to talk about her sweet new venture and dish on the tasty treats she's most partial to.
ETOnline: What stands out about The American Baking Competition as opposed to other food competition shows?
Marcela Valladolid: It's all about baking and nothing else. No one is a professional pastry chef, they all simply love to bake and use family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. That makes is so exciting! It is hard to judge a baked good based on their grandmother's recipe.
ETOnline: What are you looking for when you judge the baked goods the competitors prepare?
Marcela: Presentation. Flavor. Texture. I always make sure they are using the proper techniques during the baking process, it is extremely important because if they don't, everything can go wrong!
ETOnline: What do you think is the "classic" American baked good? Has that changed over time?
Marcela: I think the classic American baked good is the apple pie. It hasn't really changed over time, that's why it is so classic. The flaky buttery crust and that delicious warm sweet apple tart filling is definitely one of my all time favorites! You see apple pies on pretty much every dessert menu in America. Some presentations of it have varied over time but the flavor is always the same.
ETOnline: What baked item is your favorite to cook at home?
Marcela: I make these amazing strawberry tartlets my mom used to make when I was little. The crust is made of Maria crackers-- it's like the Mexican graham cracker. It's so delicate and amazing!
ETOnline: What qualities does a great baker need to have? Can anyone become a great baker?
Marcela: You need to be extremely patient. Baking is all about measurements and perfection. If something does not come out right you need to do it all over again, from scratch, in order to fix it. I think that anyone who is extremely passionate about it and patient can become a great baker.
ETOnline: What do you enjoy about judging as opposed to hosting your own show and preparing the food yourself?
Marcela: It was so much fun. It's different to hosting my own show because I do not have to stress about every recipe being perfect and authentic. When I shoot my own show, I start testing recipes months in advance in order to have the results I want. As a judge, I do not have to worry about testing recipes but I do need to do some research, it is much less stressful.
You can catch Marcela on The American Baking Competition when the series premieres Wednesday, May 29 at 8 PM ET/PT on CBS. Joining the judge will be Paul Hollywood, who currently serves as a judge on the original series across the pond, and host Jeff Foxworthy.