Meet Charlotte d’Arabian, a Village Elementary student with three sisters, who participates in Math Olympiads, plays competitive soccer and lacrosse, and is into fashion designing. At just ten years old, she already possesses more baking skills than most kids her age, but then again, Charlotte isn’t your typical fifth grader. Tune in to the Food Network tonight at 8:00 pm to watch the third season of the popular Kids Baking Championship, where Charlotte and eleven other hopefuls from all across the nation will compete for $25,000.
Although Charlotte’s mother, Melissa d’Arabian, is part of the Food Network family, Charlotte was chosen for the show on her own merit. As evidenced in her casting video, Charlotte not only has a lot of skills in the kitchen, but she also has an incredibly vibrant personality!
Sitting down to talk with Charlotte about the upcoming show can be summed up in three words – a pure joy! Charlotte is so expressive and vivacious, which are words that might also be used to describe other kids her age, but she also carries a certain level of maturity not typically seen in all fifth graders or even all adults. It’s easy to see why baking is her passion because Charlotte herself has such a sincerely sweet disposition and is cute as a cupcake.
When did you start baking independently?
“Since I’ve been baking my whole life, I really started getting serious about baking a few years ago, and that’s when I started baking independently mostly and creating my own recipes.”
What are your favorite foods to bake?
“I love making cupcakes because you can make them sophisticated or you can make them easy. I really like making shortbread cookies too. Decorating wise, I really love making royal icing; it’s extremely easy, but you can do so much with it!”
(Charlotte considers both her chocolate as well as her buttermilk cupcakes to be her favorites, along with chocolate icing.)
Besides baking, do you also enjoy cooking savory dishes?
“Yes! I love baking a lot more, but I also enjoy cooking savory dishes with my mom. She’s more of the cook, and I’m more of the baker.”
“This may seem very easy, but I love doing the breaded chicken station. I’ve been doing that since I was two or three. I love the taste first of all, and I can make it gluten-free or anything creative. We once made it with pretzel crumbs! It’s also really fun because I love getting my hands a little dirty. For some reason, raw chicken feels so fun to play with.”
You filmed Kids Baking Championship over the summer. Was it really hard keeping it a secret?
“It was really hard! I was so tempted to tell someone, but I had to keep telling myself, ‘You can’t say anything!'”
Tell me about your overall experience about being on Kids Baking Championship. (No spoilers!)
“It was probably the best experience of my entire life! I loved being able to have a good challenge, but also my competitors and I are the best of friends. We saw each other more as teachers rather than competitors. We’re all so close now. It was definitely something worth fighting for! It was so fun, and I learned so much.”
Tell me about your experience working with the judges, Duff Goldman and Valerie Bertinelli.
“They were really nice! The judges gave good criticism, and really helped us with future references. They’re just as nice in person as they seem on TV, and are good judges for working with kids because they’re funny and sensitive.”
Did your mom give you any advice prior to starting Kids Baking Championship?
“She couldn’t help me on set, but before we started she told me to pretend the cameras weren’t there, and reminded me to just have fun with it. That advice really helped me!”
Do you have any future plans to be a professional baker someday?
“Yes! I want to be a baker when I grow up. I want to go on Cupcake Wars someday, and I want to open up a bakery. I want the bakery to be French themed since I’m half French, and being French is a very big part of my life. I think a French bakery will be very chic!”
Are you planning on studying to become a baker, or are you interested in studying something else?
“I’m planning on studying fashion designing or art, but I’m not exactly sure yet since I’m only ten. I’d like to take some classes on baking skills, but I don’t think I’ll study it in college because if that’s what I study, then I feel like I can only bake for the rest of my life. I want to be open to creating more opportunities for myself though baking is my number one priority.”
Any advice for kids your age (or adults) who think learning to bake seems hard or overwhelming?
“Look at baking as an art. Basically you’re taking things, and putting them together to make one thing that everyone loves. Baking can be looked at a million different ways to make it easier! If you’re struggling, remember you’re not going to be good at it immediately. I had to mess up a lot of times before I got to my level of baking! Keep trying!”