Friday, June 7, 2013

5Qs on Friday: Marcela Valladolid

Marcela Valladolid is Making Baking Fun
Shari Anne Brill, TVFirstLook

When it comes to cooking and TV, these days Marcela Valladolid is one of the more familiar celebrity chefs and certainly one of the more likable. She got her start on shows like Discovery en EspaƱol's Relatos con Sabor and, in 2005, famously on Martha Stewart's version of The Apprentice. More recently, she hosted Food Network's Mexican Made Easy.

This summer, Marcela and Paul Hollywood are judges on CBS's new and totally fun reality show The American Baking Competition (Wednesday, 8pm). Comedian Jeff Foxworthy is host.

Marcela spoke with TVFirstLook about the show, what it takes to be a great baker and where to find a decent burrito in New York City.

TVFirstLook: OK, The American Baking Competition is a really fun show. How did you get involved with it?

Marcela Valladolid: I received a call from my representative that the folks at CBS were looking for a judge to come in and judge with Paul Hollywood, the existing judge of the UK version, The Great British Bake Off. I came in and did a chemistry test with judge Paul Hollywood. We got along really well.

Fortunately for me, it turned out that I was the person that CBS was looking for.

TVFirstLook: How did you make the transition from author to TV personality?

Marcela: I actually started in television before I became an author.

I was studying architecture and went to work with my aunt Marcela. She is my inspiration and the reason I became a chef. She opened up one of the first cooking schools in Baja, Mexico.

We both decided to make a VHS demo of us cooking together and sent it to the Food Network. That was around 15 years ago.  I was invited to be a guest on one of their shows. After that I went to culinary school and went on to The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, which was what spearheaded my career.

After that, I got an agent and went on to host Relatos con Sabor on Discovery en Espanol. Then I got my first book deal for "Fresh Mexico."

TVFirstLook:  So far American Baking Competition is holding up quite well opposite tough competition. What accounts for the show's appeal?

Marcela: Our show is very honest in the sense that it has nothing to do with the drama between contestants. We have no idea who likes who or dislikes each other or who has personal drama. We don't care. There are some other cooking competition shows that have crossed the line where it becomes personal. We wanted nothing to do with that.

Our show is meant to entice viewers to see what good baking is all about. The drama on the competition is between the baker and his own cooking ability. We're not going to yell and scream at contestants. Our role is to say whether something is good or isn't good.

We take this seriously because there is $250,000 on the line. It's a beautiful show with a beautiful format. I am incredibly proud to be a part of it.

(TVFirstLook: So, it's all about the food and not the feud? Marcela: Exactly, that's the perfect way to put it.)

TVFirstLook: What does it take to be a great baker? 

Marcela: It's about being very precise. In the beginning of my career I went nowhere near pastries. It's all about being patient, paying close attention to the detail and the cooking process.

The technical bake segment of [our show] tests contestants' skills as bakers. Everyone gets the same ingredients, the same amount of time and with limited instructions. It is up to them to fill in the blanks. It's very much about their instincts as bakers.

TVFirstLook: OK, last thing. Where can we find a decent burrito in New York City?

Marcela: Not a burrito. I'll tell you why. People have no idea what an authentic Mexican burrito is. The best place to get an authentic Mexican meal is Toloache, Julian Medina's place.


  1. What a pleasure to know there is a reality show a step above the others; where contestants aren't pitted against each other in a mean spirited way. The questions asked were perfection - exactly what I would have asked to give the reader a comprehensible understanding of the show's unique concept. Thanks for that because it has inspired me to watch the show!

    1. Thanks for your wonderful comments, Lola. TVFirstLook endeavors to showcase the best of TV content. Hope you too will agree that American Baking Competition is a example of how great TV is done. Enjoy the show!