Role Mommy: So let's talk about first how you got involved with the show. How did you find out about it?
Marcela Valladolid: They reached out to me over the phone, but it wasn't until I saw the British version that I was like "Wow...this is spectacular. This is amazing!" I love the format of the show, the fact that they focus solely on the food and the baking, and not the drama between the contestants. In a lot of reality shows they take you back to where they sleep and they put them all together in a small apartment because they want them to rip each other's hair off. This show has nothing to do with that. It is just about the beauty of the bakes and the intensity of the bakers and those reveals, uncovering what this amateur baker had made and seeing something so beautiful. It was a refreshing proposal in comparison to what we have on television right now. When they called, I went up to L.A. and met with Paul Hollywood and we did our test, and they called a few days after that and said "you know you're coming to Alpharetta, Georgia," which is where we shot the show. So just a few days after that I was on a plane to Georgia.
RM: Did you bring your son out with you in Alpharetta at all or did he stay back?
MV: No I couldn't leave him for the whole month of production. I left for ten days, and then he came the middle ten days, and then I stayed for ten more days so he wouldn't feel like it was such a long break. When I did "The Apprentice" I left for two months.That was the longest time we've been apart. If it's going to be a long trip, he comes with me. I don't care if I have to pull him out of school, I'd rather him be with me.
RM: I know in terms of baking shows it's really about racing against the clock. Are you going to have that same sense of urgency in The American Baking Competition?
MV: Oh my goodness, across the board with these guys, the number one challenge that they had was time management. It was a race against the clock every single time. And it was really frustrating to Paul and myself at times because we knew they were good at what they do. But with baking, as opposed to savories, you don't know what's going to happen until you open the oven at the very end. You just don't know if the proportions were right, or if you mixed it properly. You have some visuals before you go into the oven, but the fact of the matter is, you don't have an idea of how it's going to come out and if it's executed to perfection until you open that oven door. So yes, you're certainly going to get that sense of urgency there were moments when the bell rang and their desserts just weren't done. It was not cooked. It was raw. Very intense! Lots of drama!
RM: So did you find that they got better at time management as the episodes went on?
MV: Well, they certainly adapted to the environment. I've said this so many times, baking is one of those things where you just really need to be in a good place emotionally and mentally for you to be able to produce your best dish. You can certainly tell in the beginning that they were struggling. It was really cold outside which is really difficult for baking, especially for bread-making and for yeast and proofing. So it took a little bit of time for them to adapt, but once they did, it was so beautiful because their personalities came out and their faces and their attitudes changed. They certainly did need a couple of episodes to make those kitchens, those stations, their own.
RM: The British version took place in a tent was well. Were the weather conditions an intentional part of the challenge?
MV: It wasn't a part of the equation at all. They actually thought we were going to get warm weather. Within the one month production period, we experienced every season in Alpharetta. One day it was got all the way up to 75 and a few days later it was snowing. So we had to adjust, but it definitely wasn't something that they thought about to make it more challenging for the bakers. It made for really exciting TV.
RM: What's your favorite pastry or dish that you love to bake?
MV: I love baking tarts. My mom used to make the most amazing strawberry tart made from the Mexican version of the English tea biscuit, which is called galleta Maria, and piloncillo, which is Mexican raw sugar, to make the crust. And the filling was so simple. It was sugar, cream cheese, sour cream, tons of strawberries, syrup, and a little bit of orange liqueur, and it was the most amazing thing! So I love different adaptations of those tarts. I'm also very much about anything that involves a beautiful presentation. To me, the beautiful thing about being a chef is that that it's one of the few professions that tackles every single one of your senses. And visually, it's what you get first, especially with desserts. It's not like savories where you can smell the garlic. Sometimes with desserts it's much harder. You have to get much closer to the dish to actually smell it. So for me, putting that visual arrangement together is something I love to do.
To see a sneak peek of the "American Baking Competition," check out this Behind the Scenes Video!