By Donna Hill
For The Fort Bend Star
Baking is second nature to Dulles Elementary student Kate Fogleman. If it’s bakeable, it’s doable.
Just ask her mother, or the Food Network. Fogleman, a contestant on the network’s new show Kids Sweets Showdown, is ready for any baking challenge. For the next two weeks – Wednesday, Dec. 7, and Wednesday, Dec. 14 – she will join other young bakers in the spirit of the season, of a competitive sort. According to the network’s website, the show is about how “these fiercely talented kids prepare merry sweet treats in the hopes of staying on the judges’ ‘nice’ list.”
The kids bake and measure, work out details, and come up with the best-baked confection. The show is fun and fast paced. Kids work together as a team. So there are a lot of life lessons to learn about cooperation and teamwork.
Fogleman’s first appearance was the episode Santa Express. Hosts Ali Sweeney and Harley Morenstein asked the children to bake and decorate holiday train cakes. In the first round, the kids turned cookie stacks into decorative holiday trees. Then they continued the reforestation with sugar cone trees.
Subsequent episodes include Snow Day Doughnuts, where hosts Sharone Hakman and Sweeney make the baking teams go nuts with snow creatures made out of – you guessed it – doughnuts. Kids must create cereal treat homes for their creatures, then, in the second round, create an “odd snowman out” to join their snow creature clans.
She will also be part of Extreme Cake Adventures on Dec. 14 when Hakman and Sweeney ask teams to create a cupcake cake to illustrate an adventure theme: wild jungle, undersea adventures or space odyssey. Not so fast. First, the kids turn cupcakes into mini layer cakes, and then use their sculpting skills to make a fondant friend (icing) to add to their cupcake cake.
In each contest, the best team wins a prize of $10,000.
Baking for the 10-year-old took a more serious turn earlier in the year.
“I started watching Kids Baking Championship on the Food Network,” Fogleman said. “I loved watching kids bake these complicated desserts. Each week I would try to bake the same dessert the kids on the show would make. I learned how to make éclairs, cream puffs, pies and more. Duff Goldman is my favorite, I also like to watch Bobby Flay’s shows too.”
Tuning in to watch cooking showmanship pros like Flay and Goldman encouraged Fogleman’s interest in baking even more. It buoyed her confidence to try to be a contestant.
“I wanted to be a contestant on another Food Network Show called Kids Baking Championship. I went to the Internet and found the online application,” she said. “I turned it in and a few months later they emailed my mom and I started the auditioning process.”
The process included submitting pictures of her dessert creations, a Skype interview with casting producers, a video of her baking the dessert from start to finish. Personality also played a big part in the auditioning process.
“I was so nervous for my first audition interview,” she said. “But the casting producer was so friendly. For the interviews I had to make several desserts for the Food Network and tell them step by step how I made each dessert.”
So what was the experience like at the Food Network?
“My favorite part of the show was working in the Food Network’s kitchen. They had so many fun cooking tools!” she said. “I was excited to meet the other contestants and it was fun to see so many boys who like to bake. Ali, Harley and Sharon were really nice.”
Fogleman started baking early. Cupcakes were her specialty, and shared them often with family, friends and neighbors.
“I started baking with my mom and grandma when I was about five. We started with cookies, brownies and cupcakes. Then we would find recipes on the Internet and try to recreate them.”
Not all the recipes were successful the first time around.
“I remember when my mom and I were learning how to make pie crust for an apple pie,” she said. “I don’t know what we did but it was terrible. But we thought OK … we’ll make a crumble top and put it on the pie, instead of a pie crust.”
Satisfied with the results, the entire apple pie-crust could have almost been a fiasco recipe turned out OK. It also showed early on about Fogleman’s flair about how to fix a mistake without calling too much attention to it. It’s a good trait to have when baking on national television.
She said she’d like to work at the Food Network one day, teaching people how to bake and using those tricky decorating tools. But she would be just as happy to be a pastry chef in her own bakery.
Fogleman is a student at Dulles Elementary. Her favorite subjects are “art, reading and writing” and she is on the yearbook committee. She has three dogs – two of which were recently adopted from the Sugar Land Animal Shelter six months ago. She is also a member of the competitive dance team at Dance Works in Missouri City. Last year she was a finalist for her jazz solo routine at the National Dance Competition in Galveston.
Her mother, Eden Fogleman, an English as a second language teacher at Houston Community College in Stafford, praises her daughter’s initiative.
“Kate was the one who told me about the application process for the Kids Baking Championship last spring,” she said. “She went through a rather lengthy auditioning process only to be informed after several rounds that she would not be included in the final group that actually made the show.”
While Kate was obviously disappointed, both she and her Mom viewed it as a great life lesson.
“Sometimes you do your best and you still do not achieve the desired result. We hoped that the disappointment of not getting on the show would motivate her to always put in her best efforts.”
Eden Fogleman summed up the entire event as “if you don’t give anything your best, you have no chance.”
Given her perseverance with a first time pie crust, Kate may be well on her way to a bright future in the baking business.
For more on the Food Network’s Kids Sweets Showdown episodes, visit www.foodnetwork.com/shows/kids-sweets-showdown/episodes.