If you were on the competing side and you were in the showstopper challenge, where everyone had to make a cake based off of a favorite childhood toy or gift, what do you think you would’ve made?
I have a very fond memory of a childhood gift. It was Christmas. I was a big video game fan at the time, so I’m assuming I’m going to get a video game because I asked for one. I’m opening up all my presents — no video game, no video game. Finally, I get to the last present and it’s a box of Cheerios, and I’m like, “Oh, okay, thank you.” I’m a very polite little boy. I don’t want to be like, “Why did you get me Cheerios?”
I go up to my room and I am pretty distraught. Then, a few minutes later, my parents were like, “Why don’t you open the box of Cheerios?” I opened the box of Cheerios and the video game was inside. They had been doing a little prank on me.
Maybe I would try and do a cake shaped like a box of Cheerios. Then, when you cut into it, there’s something else hidden inside. I don’t think I could pull that off, but I would attempt it.
More generally, what’s your favorite holiday bake or treat, whether or not you’re the one to actually make it? What do you look forward to during the holiday season?
There are two for me that come to mind. My family had a Thanksgiving tradition. We would make these cookies that were shaped like turkeys. We would decorate them with a Reese’s Cup for the wing, and then candy corns for the feathers, and a chocolate chip for the eyes, and a little Twizzler for the gobbler. That was always a fun thing to do together as a family.
Then, on Christmas, my mom would always make a strawberry dump cake. I think it’s called that because you dump all the ingredients in. We haven’t baked that on the show, so I haven’t updated my knowledge on it, but those are two favorites of mine.
Who’s your favorite judge? Hollywood or Leith?
I can’t [say]. It depends on the situation. If I need someone to drive me in a racecar, I have to go with [Hollywood]. I love them both. They’re both great to work with.
Were you surprised by who ended up winning the celebrity holiday special?
I was a little surprised. I was and I wasn’t, because it’s hard to tell. The winner was not super confident going in, and so that’s always a surprise.
From your experience hosting the show so far, do you feel there’s a secret to winning?
The secret to winning is practicing the bakes that you’re allowed to practice, so the signatures and the showstoppers. Being really prepared and practicing them in the amount of time that you will have seems to be really important. The other really important hint is, when you need to proof something, you have to proof it longer than you think you have to proof it. That seems to be a recurring thing that comes up on the show.
“The Great American Baking Show: Celebrity Holiday” is available to stream for free on The Roku Channel starting Nov. 10.
This interview has been edited for clarity.