Matthew Merril Of Kids Baking Championship Tells The Truth About Guy Fieri - Exclusive

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Cooking prodigy Matthew Merril is probably most well-known for being @MatthewintheKitchen on TikTok, where he delights his 2.5 million followers with decadent, playful recipes, which he describes in an amusing booming voice. But, before his TikTok stardom and before the publication of his first book, "Teen Baking Bootcamp: 60 Essential Recipes to Take You from Amateur to Pro," released today, March 22, Merril was a familiar face among foodie fans because of his many appearances on cooking TV shows featuring kids. The next time you're watching old reruns of "Chopped Junior" or "Kids Baking Championship," don't be surprised if you see a baby-faced Merril competing with other pint-sized aspiring chefs.

Of all his TV appearances as a child, the experience that might have left the biggest impression on Merril however was when he was on a teen-focused episode of "Guy's Grocery Games" with Guy Fieri, as Merril told Mashed in an exclusive interview. "Growing up, I think 'Guy's Grocery Games' was the one show that I always thought to myself, 'Oh, this is the one show I would love to be on.' When they called, it was tears of joy," Merril said. "It was everything I wanted and more." And compared to the other shows Merril appeared on, he said, "It was the least stressful cooking show in terms of, I could just have fun ... I remember I grabbed a box of Froot Loops and was eating it during the competition. I was just having the time of my life!"

Here's what Guy Fieri is like in person, according to Merril

According to Matthew Merril, Guy Fieri is exactly what he seems like — and more — in person. "Meeting Guy Fieri, like culinary idol right there, that in and of itself, it was like a vacation," Merril said. "He is so down-to-earth and he's such a great role model! He was so nice to all of the contestants." Merril added that Fieri maintained a cheerful demeanor even though he was under the weather when the episode was being produced. "He actually had the flu or something while we were filming, so we didn't get to talk to him as much as I guess all the contestants wanted to."

Their interactions might have been limited, but the words Fieri did share with the budding teen chefs were empowering to Merril. "I remember the first thing he said to us before we walked into the kitchen was, 'You guys are so talented for just making it here.' It was definitely more than what he had to say, that he was obligated to, but it was definitely super encouraging," Merril recalled. "I just remember feeling so welcome there."

Follow Matthew Merril on TikTok, and be sure to check out his cookbook, "Teen Baking Bootcamp: 60 Essential Recipes to Take You from Amateur to Pro," available now.