LUcia Calonge didn’t make it to the end of the competition but she’s applying what she’s learned Kids Baking Championship to help her develop her craft. We spoke to her about her TV debut, her baking career so far and what she’s been up to since she left the show.
How did you get into baking?
I’ve always loved baking because it’s a special part of our family. At the beginning of the pandemic, I started observing Kids Baking Championship with my family and seeing the amazing kids making amazing desserts I was incredibly inspired. So I baked and baked and when I was done I submitted my application and I made it.
How long have you been baking?
I started baking when I was 2 years old. I would push my little study tower over to the counter so I could reach counter height, and I would help my mom add a cup of flour, a teaspoon of vanilla, whisk the dry ingredients together, or roll out and cut out cookie dough. I really started baking myself when I started watching Kids Baking Championship When I was 8 years old. That’s when I decided I really wanted to bake for Duff [Goldman] and Val [Bertinelli]and I was motivated to do whatever it takes to be the best baker I can be.
What’s the first baked good you’ve ever made?
The very first baked goods I ever baked were my great-grandmother Marsala’s sugar cookies. They’re not your typical sugar cookie — they’re fluffy, crumbly, delicious goodness. A recipe passed down to me by my Italian great-grandmother. I put a lot of love into them and use all sorts of shaped cookie cutters and sand sugar in lots of fun colors to decorate them.
What was it like taking part in the show Kids Baking Championship?
It was a dream come true and I am so proud and grateful for this experience. If I had one wish, I would love to be there Kids Baking Championship again. I would also like to be contacted about a holiday special. I am so thankful for all the love and support that our amazing community in Cincinnati has shown me. Thanks for cheering me on my journey!
What was the best thing about the competition?
So many things! The best thing about being switched on Kids Baking Championship went to the kitchen. I kept pinching myself because I couldn’t believe I was in the kitchen and on the show! I loved meeting Duff, Val and all my fellow bakers. They are all my lifelong friends now. I also loved being able to bake for Duff and Val. It was a very special opportunity to have two of the best pastry chefs in the world giving me feedback on how to become a better baker. I look up to Duff and Val and really appreciate their feedback and advice. I feel like I’m a better baker and I’ve grown as a person because of this experience and I’m so grateful. It was also quite amazing when Duff offered me a job when I’m older because he thought I did a good job decorating my butterfly cake in the first episode!
What is your favorite thing to bake?
I love to bake anything but if I had to choose one I would say cakes because I love decorating them. I also love to draw so decorating a cake is like a blank canvas to draw on and it allows me to express my creativity in other ways. Right now I’m having fun trying all sorts of new recipes so I can keep learning. And the best part about baking is wrapping up those yummy treats and giving them to someone to show they care.
Do you have any favorite bakers you follow and why?
I’m very inspired by what I consider to be the best pastry chef in Cincinnati, Chef Megan Ketover [former contestant on Top Chef: Just Desserts]. She’s amazing and I’ve learned so much from her and she’s also been on a TV show with a baking contest. And of course I love following Duff because I’m a huge fan! I love Christina Tosi and had the opportunity to take her amazing online course. She helped me understand how to get creative with my flavors and textures and is super fun. And when I’m looking for a great new recipe and/or want to learn a new technique, there are so many talented bakers I learn from online – Mel’s Kitchen Café, Sally’s Baking Addiction, Preppy Kitchen, Mom Loves Baking, Sugar Spun Run, Molly Yeh, Buttermilk by Sam to name a few of my favorites. My other favorite local bakers are all bakers from The BonBonerie, which is a very special bakery to me because I go there basically weekly. I even had a birthday party in the tea room!
What have you been doing since appearing on the show?
I am pleased to report that I have been taking orders and this has kept me busy. I’m also thinking about selling my goodies at the Madeira Farmers Market. Giving back makes my heart happy, so I donate a percentage of all my sales to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, which is very close to my heart. I recently had the amazing opportunity to teach a virtual class on cookie decorating at The BonBonerie and we’ve been talking about hosting an in-person class this summer and meeting and greeting each other. Some Boy Scout troops have asked me to teach a class as well. I love meeting other kids who love to bake, teaching classes and helping others enjoy baking as much as I do!
Follow Lucia on Instagram at @bakingmywaytoheaven