The 'Hardest Part' Of Spring Baking Championship, According To Contestant Tom Smallwood

Season 8 of "Spring Baking Championship" premiered on February 28 on the Food Network with a dozen new bakers ready to take on the series of challenges filled with pastel decorations and vibrant flavors to match. This season, Molly Yeh has replaced Ali Khan as the host and Duff Goldman, Nancy Fuller, and Kardea Brown remain the three judges. The bakers come from across the country to compete and two of the bakers, Jaleesa Mason and Tom Smallwood, are representing New York City. 

Smallwood is the Head of Culinary Development at the iconic Magnolia Bakery and previously worked with acclaimed pastry chef and recurrent judge on several Food Network baking shows, Ron Ben-Israel. "I've always wanted to be on Food Network," Smallwood told AMNY. "I wanted to compete or have my own show or just get to share stuff I make with people. It was always a large goal of mine in some way shape or form." 

Although Smallwood's experience and enthusiastic personality make him a force to be reckoned with, he admits that he finds one aspect of the show especially challenging.

The fast pace of the competition is the great equalizer

According to pastry chef and "Spring Baking Championship" contestant Tom Smallwood, all of the competitors on this season of the show have formidable backgrounds in baking, so the sneaky adversary of the show is actually the ticking clock. "With baking, the cooling down time is such a crazy factor because you don't know when the cake will be cold enough for you to work with it," Smallwood told Fansided. Since the challenges have such tight time constraints, the bakers have to make a plan at the beginning and do their best to follow through. Even if the bakers manage to do that, they often have curveballs thrown at them in the middle of the challenge for extra drama.

"If you haven't compromised at least two times during a challenge, you haven't done it right," says Smallwood. One thing that the contestant will not compromise on, however, is flavor. He admits that decorating is not his strongest skill, but as long as he can impress the judges by capturing the essence of springtime in the desserts, he's confident he will succeed and hopefully take home the $25,000 prize. No matter how much pastry chefs typically make, that cash can go a long way toward baking equipment and supplies.