Courtesy Food NetworkYoung chef Payton Pelaez's culinary creations are available at

10-year-old S.F. baker Payton Pelaez competing on Food Network

Any grown-ups who have trouble just making boxed-mix brownies should probably watch the Food Network’s “Kids Baking Championship.”

It might bruise their egos, but at least they might pick up some tips from young star chefs like San Francisco’s Payton Pelaez, 10, one of eight contestants vying for a $10,000 grand prize.

Payton, who has only been baking since age 9, already knew he made a mean snickerdoodle, but the batch he whipped up on the show bowled over even “Kids Baking Championship” hosts Valerie Bertinelli and Duff Goldman.

“Now I know that they’re actually really good, ’cause two famous people liked them,” says Payton, a student at the New Village School in Sausalito.

Although Payton enjoyed meeting the other kids on the show (“I had never met another boy who liked to bake!”) and has stayed in touch with several of them since the taping, there were challenges.

“The hardest part was like the pressure, you only had two hours and you were on TV,” he says. In the first episode of the show, which aired Monday, Payton had to scrap a batch of blondies before rebounding and moving on to the next stage of the competition.

Payton, who hopes to become a pastry chef one day, is already a seasoned pro with his own online business, Chez Pay, where customers like the de Young Museum have ordered up his muffins, cookies and classic chocolate cake (his favorite).

When he’s not reading books about Alice Waters or Roland Mesnier with his mom, Payton is participating in San Francisco’s Sprouts Cooking Club.

“You go to real kitchens and meet real chefs in real restaurants,” he says.

Some of his favorite kitchens in The City are at Tartine Bakery and B Patisserie, where he adores the kouign amann pastries.

“It’s like layers of flaky, sugary, buttery crust, and in the middle, there’s this goo … and it’s so good,” he says.

Although he’s enjoyed working with Bertinelli and Goldman, there’s still one Food Network host Payton would love to meet.

“Ina Garten,” Payton says. “That would be great.”


The Girl Scouts, the A-listers of the cookie world (take that, Mrs. Fields), are introducing two new flavors: Rah-Rah Raisins and (sigh) gluten-free Toffee-Tastic. … “Hee Haw,” beloved by grandparents everywhere, is being revived onstage as “Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical.”


Singer Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses is 53. … Actress Mamie Van Doren (“Untamed Youth”) is 84. … Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor (“Queen of Outer Space”) is 98.

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