By Brenda Paprocki | Daily News Contributing Writer
Traveling to Los Angeles to be a contestant on the Food Network’s “Kid’s Baking Championship” show was a dream come true for 12-year-old Aidan Berry of Shalimar. Winning the competition and $25,000 in prize money was just icing on the cake.
The show was filmed last August, but the finale didn’t air until Monday night. Aidan couldn’t say a word about winning until the finale aired.
“It wasn’t too hard to keep the secret,” Aidan said. “Now it’s hard to say I won because I had to keep the secret for so long!”
The show started with 12 kids competitors, and a baker was eliminated each week. On the finale, the last three kids competed for the award.
Aidan won by making a lemon rosemary olive oil cake with buttercream icing and an isomalt sugar prism on top.
There was a bit of drama when he burned the bottom of the cake. Aidan’s mom, Shannon Berry, who was watching from an adjacent room, was a little stressed.
“I was like, ‘No! Don’t burn it,’ ” Berry said. “You wish you could help your child, but you can’t, so you just hope he pulls himself together and turns it around.”
And Aidan managed to do just that. He cut the burned part of the cake off, then poured simple syrup on the cake layer to moisten it.
Aidan said he learned all about baking mostly from the internet and online videos.
Local resident Shirley Napier, who watched the entire series, said she was continuously amazed by Aidan’s baking knowledge. But she said the episode that impressed her most was when Aidan helped another competitor, Kaniyah.
“Aidan finished a few minutes early and Kaniyah was crying and having a serious meltdown, so he asked if he could help, and she told him he could whip the cream,” Napier said. “That he was kind enough to offer a fellow contestant a hand was just a wonderful display of kindness.
“It’s impressive when a young person thinks of someone else instead of himself.”
Aidan said he was already finished and she was in desperate need, so he had to help.
Berry was pleased her son helped Kaniyah.
“There were four moms in a room watching, and it was so stressful,” Berry said. “We had all grown so close! I was pleased that Aidan helped her. It was exactly what he should do, but it was emotional for sure.”
According to Aidan, the 12 contestants became good friends and still keep in touch.
“We Instagram and do group text messaging, and Facetime each other, too,” Aidan said. “We are also thinking about having a reunion in Georgia.”
Berry said it was an excellent experience for Aidan.
“They will have this friendship forever,” Berry said. “Having 11 other friends for the rest of his life is really great.”
Aidan said he hasn’t decided what he will do with the $25,000, but he was sure of one thing.
“I want to be a chef when I grow up,” Aidan said. “Most likely, probably, yes … a pastry chef.”‘