Host Ali Khan on Rolling Out the Ovens for ‘Spring Baking Championship’ Season 7

Spring Baking Championship
Ali Khan Hosts with Judges Kardea Brown, Nancy Fuller, and Duff Goldman (Food Network)

It’s time to fire up those ovens for the seventh season of Spring Baking Championship . The popular Food Network staple returns with 11 bakers from across the country competing in challenges for a shot at $25,000 and a spot in Food Network Magazine.

Each of the 10 episodes is broken down into two rounds. The winner of the first round, called “pre-heat” (less complicated concoctions, but with a theme) gets an advantage in the “main heat.” They’ll be judged by Nancy Fuller, Duff Goldman and new addition Kardea Brown. Ali Khan ( Cheap Eats) is excited to serve as host, taking the reins from Clinton Kelly.

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“It was like coming back to camp,” he says. “The chemistry on the show is crazy. Nancy and Duff rag on each other, which is hilarious. Kardea will look at Duff and I and say, ‘You two are like seven-year-old boys. It was a lot of fun.”

Here, Khan whets our appetite ahead of the show’s two-hour February 22 premiere.

Kardea stepped in for Lorraine Pascale. How did shechange the dynamic?

Ali Khan: All things are subjective. Kardea is Southern, so we had that sensibility with food in what she likes and doesn’t like. How the judges look at the contestants, they can see if these competitors have their heart in it or not can impact how well they do.

Tell us about the field of contestants.

This season, we had Laurent [Carratie], who is from France and in his 50s. He had decades of experience working the stoves. You think someone like that should win the whole thing. But then you have others who don’t have experience or that formal Culinary Institute of America background, and you see them, pardon the pun, rise to the occasion. Just when you think this person is out, they show you something.

Ali Khan

Cooking Channel

Is there a particular challenge that stands out to you?

One of the challenges I think is pretty darn spectacular. In a nod to Love Is Blind, we did a screen that divided the work station in half. The bakers had to work as a team and couldn’t see what the other baker was doing. They had to make a cake with verbal communication and then merge what they’re doing together.

Do you feel cooking shows are even more popular now due to people stuck at home?

I can tell you personally these times have made me shift my content. I started in this world food writing; I’d go to this restaurant and that for content. Come 2020, that crashed to a halt. I turned to my phone. I think people are cooking a ton. That’s across the board. Now we’re cooking at all times of the day and getting out of our comfort zones. A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have expected [my family] to have a garden because we kill all plants. Our garden is great.

Do you think kids in general are enjoying cooking more?

We have Duff Goldman’s kids baking book [ Super Good Baking for Kids ]. My wife and son like to bake together. But baking is no joke! There is such precision that goes into it. If you’re off in your measurements, it simply won’t work. My son is helping out as allowed. My wife is pretty much a pro baker at this point. The experience is like when your kid has a science project, and you know the parent was involved.

Spring Baking Championship, Season Premiere, February 22, 9/8c, Food Network and discovery+