Food Network Challenge is coming back on Dec. 23, and with it a new host: BH90210 star Ian Ziering. Although not a good home baker himself, Ziering says he is excited to learn new techniques from the highly competitive group of master bakers who are battling to win a $10,000 prize.
Ziering spoke to EW about what viewers can expect from the rebooted franchise, including how incredible it was to see the return of one of the show’s original judges Keegan Gerhard. He also shares an update on the future of 90210, as well as what his Christmas wish is for the year ahead.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We were bummed with the cancellation of BH90210, but fans will be able to see you host the big return of Food Network Challenge. What can they expect?
IAN ZIERING: I’m so excited to be hosting this show. I admit, I don’t really know anything about baking. It’s a good day when I can read the directions on the box that Betty Crocker writes for me. That, I can make! I can make chocolate chip cookies. I can make brownies. But that’s where it ends.
But the contestants on the show are on a whole other level. I am so blown away at the skills that these bakers bring to the competition floor. They elevate pastry arts to fine arts. I walked away from many of these cakescapes thinking that they should sign them like art. It’s really a blurry line between pastry arts and fine arts with what these people were able to deliver.
In the first episode, the theme will be A Christmas Story. What will the challenge be like?
Our bakers have to build something that is from the movie A Christmas Story. The first thing that they have to make is that iconic leg lamp, Fragile. And they deliver it in such a way that everyone got a different presentation and a different spin on it where one contestant has more of a whimsical approach to it, one is more photorealistic — which is amazeballs. And the other takes more of a cartoony aspect to it. So, once you’re able to bake these things, what separates the bakers from the fakers is their artistic skills, and the way they’re able to execute that art.
Was it intimidating to have Keegan Gerhard as a returning judge? What can viewers expect from the other judges, Claudia Sandoval and Matt Adlard?
Yeah, Keegan is a pastry master. He brings the best of the best and he’s very critical. Our other judge, Matt Adlard is a master in his own right. He’s very critical too, but his eye tends to let lend itself more towards the possibilities of what people can do.
Keegan is more about what they’re doing. And Claudia is more focused on how they’re doing. So it’s interesting, they all have a different take in their approach and their critiques, and they all bring fascinating elements to the competition floor.
All 90210 fans are wishing for this holiday season is more episodes. Can you share an update?
You know, it was the highest-rated summer premiere of any TV show. The fans out there are so upset that it was canceled. They really loved seeing us together again and the zaniness of it all, but it was a limited-run summer series. At this point, I just haven’t heard of anyone that’s going to pick it up and run with it.
Could it come back without the meta aspect and just follow the show you all created on BH90210?
You know, that is something that I’ve been thinking. Everyone really wanted to see Steve, Brandon, Kelly, Donna, Brenda, Andrea, and David. They wanted to see the real show and that was the intent if we had gone further than the six episodes. We were going to work towards producing an actual episode, because the show was about getting Beverly Hills, 90210 back on the air. It’s entirely possible that would’ve happened at some point, but brewing right now. Fox has passed and I think it’s just in limbo.
None of us are sitting still, everyone’s busy doing other things. We were all grateful for the opportunity to work together. For me personally, it felt like summer camp up in Canada.
As we go into the holiday season, what will you be wishing for this Christmas?
This is going to be a transitional decade for me. I’m looking forward to deepening the relationships I have with my friends and family, and trying to be a force for good for others.
Oh, and to be a better baker.
The new season of Food Network Challenge premieres Dec. 23 at 10 p.m. ET on Food Network. Check out an exclusive clip above, where one team has to save a cake creation from falling apart.