Ann Arbor sixth-grader competes on Food Network show
He's only 11, but Ann Arbor sixth-grader Nemo Tsai already has a two major skills under his belt. He's a champion golfer, and this year his kitchen prowess landed him on the Food Networks' "Kids Baking Championship."
He's one of a dozen pint-sized bakers who will compete on season nine of the show, debuting Monday with judges Valerie Bertinelli and Duff Goldman. The winner takes home $25,000 and a ton of bragging rights.
The Forsythe Middle School student will go up against other kids from around the country ages 10-13 in the fast-paced show, competing in weekly baking challenges while parents wait backstage and react to the roller coaster of reality television.
Tsai was already familiar with the culinary world when he recently became interested in baking. His family owns and operates Godaiko Japanese Restaurant in Ann Arbor, where he started making sushi at age four.
Like any 21st century kid, he took to YouTube to learn more about pastries, cakes and cookies. His family posted some of his desserts to his Instagram page, @lilonemo, and that's how he caught the eye of a Food Network casting agent.
Though he's relatively new to baking, Tsai accepted the challenge of being on the show.
“I learned a lot from the judges tasting my food and I feel like that advice really helped me," said Tsai, who turned 11 in August during filming. "I’m very new to baking but it was definitely great to hear their feedback."
He said his signature bake is a candied bacon cake.
"I always like to put bacon in my baking whenever I get a chance," he said. "I always put my merengue buttercream frosting on every cake I do. I also really like to make chocolate caramel cake and a passionfruit cake."
Tsai, who is also very good at algebra, would like to be a professional golfer when he gets older, but he can see himself being a television announcer or working in the culinary world, too. He's inspired by his dad, Paul Tsai, who he watches cook in the restaurant daily.
"My dad inspires a lot," he said, adding that during the pandemic they made care packages with sushi and cookies for workers at the nearby University of Michigan Hospital. "It just made me happy getting to serve my treats next to my dad's sushi."
Watch Tsai on "Kids Baking Championship" at 9 p.m. Monday on the Food Network. Visit FoodNetwork.com/KidsBakingChampionship for more information.