MOULTRIE, Ga. — As a dozen kids compete to see who bakes the best dessert, a pair of proud grandparents are glued to their TV set in Moultrie.
Graysen Pinder of Wilmington, N.C., was one of the 12 contestants on the Food Network’s Kids Baking Championship when this season premiered Jan. 6. She’s still competing after four rounds.
Graysen, who’s 13, is the granddaughter of Johnny and Nancy Slocumb of Moultrie and of retired Gen. Murray Hanson and Sharon Fowler Hansen of Atlanta (formerly of Hartsfield). Her mother, Haley, was born in Hartsfield but moved away when she was a teenager, Nancy Slocumb told The Observer.
Slocumb said Graysen has visited relatives in Hartsfield, Berlin and Moultrie over the years.
“A lot of people know her just being here,” she said.
In the show, the contestants — ages 10 to 13 — have to bake a designated dish with no recipe. On the first episode it was a “shag cake,” which is a normal cake that has icing piped onto it in such a way that it looks like shag carpet. The whole episode had a 1970s theme.
The bakers have two hours to bake and decorate their cake. Part way through, the show throws a “twist,” an unexpected ingredient the bakers must incorporate into it.
When time expires, the show’s hosts — Duff Goldman of “Ace of Cakes” and actress Valerie Bertinelli — sample the desserts and offer their opinions and constructive criticism.
At the end of the show, the contestant with the least impressive dessert is removed from the competition.
In the first episode, the contestants learned what kind of cake they’d make by picking vinyl records with the star ingredient on the labels. Graysen wound up with mango, while others got something different, like chocolate, coconut or pistachio.
“I’ve never had a mango before,” Graysen says on camera as she mixes ingredients, “so I’m kind of worried about that.”
Part way through, along came the twist: All the bakers had to incorporate canned fruit. Graysen got canned pineapple, and the judges seemed to like her combination.
“I’m probably a little prejudiced,” Slocumb said, “but I think she did wonderful. The cake was beautiful.”
The winner will receive a top prize of $25,000, a feature in Food Network Magazine and the title of Kids Baking Champion.
Graysen started baking with her mother as early as age 3 to help her learn fractions, according to a story about her in the Wilmington Star News Online.
New episodes of Kids Baking Championship air on Food Network at 9 p.m. each Monday and will repeat multiple times. See https://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/kids-baking-championship for a schedule and more details.