ANN ARBOR – For local student Nemo Tsai, 2020 was as normal a year as could be until a casting agent from Food Network reached out to him on Instagram to audition for Season 9 of “Kids Baking Championship.”
Nemo’s family has owned Japanese-American fusion restaurant Godaiko and Tsai Grocery in southwest Ann Arbor for more than 25 years. Raised in the kitchen, Nemo was making sushi rolls before he was five years old, and recently took up baking after watching videos on YouTube.
“I bake a lot of different things,” he said. “Every chance I get, I love to put bacon into my baking. My signature cake is a candy bacon cake and I always put my meringue frosting.”
After several audition rounds, Nemo was invited to compete on the show with 12 other contestants. He and his father, Paul, flew to California for filming in August.
“This was the first season that parents get onto the show and react,” said Nemo. “It was a lot of fun. I personally didn’t get to see him react to my food when I was baking but I’m excited to see it when the show airs.”
Nemo said the experience was like a “rollercoaster ride” with new baking challenges and eliminations each week.
“It was really fun but a lot of pressure as well,” he said.
Nemo was 10 years old at the time of filming, making him the youngest contestant on the show and the only competitor from Michigan.
When he’s not starring on reality television, Nemo is a student at Forsythe Middle School. An avid golfer, he is also ranked second in the world in his age group right now in the sport.
Featuring judges Valerie Bertinelli and Duff Goldman, the season premiere airs Monday, Dec. 28 at 9 p.m. ET on Food Network with a double episode.
Aside from the title of Kids Baking Champion, the winner of the Kids Baking Championship will take home a grand prize of $25,000 and will get a spot in Food Network Magazine.