Arts & Entertainment

Livingston Teen to Compete on Kids Baking Championship

Livingston's Soleil Thomas, 12, to compete on Season 4 of Kids Baking Championship Credits: Food Network
Livingston's Soleil Thomas, 12, to compete on Season 4 of Kids Baking Championship Credits: Food Network

NEW YORK, NY — After a nationwide search for contenders for Season 4 of Food Network’s “Kids Baking Championship,” Livingston seventh grader Soleil Thomas, 12, was selected to compete for $25,000, a feature in Food Network Magazine and the title of Kids Baking Champion. She will be one of eight kids and teens to put their baking skills to the test when the new season airs on Jan. 1 at 9 p.m. and culminates on Monday, March 5.

Guided by hosts Duff Goldman and Valerie Bertinelli, the young bakers compete in challenges designed to find the most impressive and creative baker over the course of ten episodes. Soleil, who started baking at a very young age and has been baking on her own for nearly two years ago, said that when she applied for the competition online, she could not believe she might “actually be on the Food Network.”

“I've always loved Kids Baking Championship, and it's always been my dream to be on the show, but I never thought I actually ever would be,” she said. “My mom picked me up from dance class and played the message from the producers and me and my sister started screaming. I still don't know how I'm going to react when I see myself on TV. I saw some of the commercials on Food Network already and I’m so excited.”

Sign Up for E-News

Soleil added that she has big plans for watching the competition. For her viewing party on New Year’s Day, she is excited to introduce a special cotton candy drink she created called “Soleil’s Sparkling Sugar Rush” to go along with dessert.

“For the first episode, I'm having a premier party with all of my friends and family,” she said. “There are going to be about 130 people there.”

When the competition began, Soleil said she was most looking forward to meeting the other contestants. As a longtime fan of the show, Soleil said she has favorites from previous seasons and couldn’t wait to meet her competition.

“Being around other bakers my age was so cool because we got to talk about all of the things that we love to do,” she said. “I made so many friends, and I text them almost every day.”

Soleil’s fellow “Kids Baking Championship” contestants include: Gareth Bennett, 10, of Gaithersburg, MD; Julia Betz, 12, of Key Biscayne, FL; Alex Czajka, 12, of Edmonton, AB; Beverly Hepler, 10, Foster City, CA; Grady Holloway, 11, Chesterfield, MO; Luke Jonsson, 13, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA; Linsey Lam, 13, of Closter, NJ; Abby Martin, 13, of Franklin, WI; Bryn Montgomery, 11, of South Hill, VA; Aditya Pillutla, 12, of Cary, NC; and Michael Platt, 11, of Bowie, MD.

“Bryn, Abby and Julia are some of my new best friends,” said Soleil. “And the coolest thing is that Linsey and I live in the same state, and we are great friends too. But all of the kid bakers were so nice—our experience was so crazy and sort of one-of-a-kind, so I know we will be friends forever.”

Soleil added that some of the biggest surprises walking into the competition included the size of the kitchen and getting used to the professional kitchen equipment.

Since the competition, she also said Goldman and Bertinelli have become her biggest inspirations.

“Not only are they the nicest judges you could ever have, they are both amazing bakers and chefs and I look up to them so much,” she said. “Meeting them was so amazing, and having them get to judge my baking skills was the opportunity of a lifetime.”

After years of baking with her mother and my grandmother, Soleil was inspired to challenge herself and start baking more complex desserts. She said her favorite thing about baking is experimenting with different flavors and making “so many different things that taste amazing.”

In addition to baking—often alongside her younger sister, Ava—the seventh grader also enjoys competitive dancing and entering pageants.

"The return of family-favorite Kids Baking Championship is the perfect sweet note to start the New Year with creative confections and delicious desserts from extraordinary young bakers showing off their remarkable talents that will awe and inspire audiences," said Courtney White, senior vice president of programming, Scripps Networks Interactive.

Throughout the new season, the contestants will tackle new confectionary challenges that include sweet dessert pizzas using traditional savory pizza toppings, “out-of-this-world” desserts with freeze-dried astronaut approved ingredients, and a new twist on the popular imposter dessert challenge featuring lunchbox favorites. On the premiere on Jan. 1, the bakers must conquer cookie cakes, but a curveball has one competitor melting under the pressure.

Fans can join the baking banter on Twitter using #BakingChampionship and relive the season’s greatest moments with video and photo highlights HERE. Fans can also go behind the scenes with Goldman and Bertinelli to discover more baking tips.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Livingston Lacrosse Senior Jason Scher Named Athlete of the Week

April 20, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Livingston High School senior Jason Scher has been named as TAPinto Livingston’s Athlete of the Week after scoring 14 goals and contributing 15 assists in his last five games—bringing him to a total of 35 points so far this season.

With Scher leading the pack, the Lancers are 5-2 after winning their last five consecutive games. Scher scored three ...

One Free Class at Cycle Bar Livingston

April 23, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Get a free ride at Cycle Bar Livingston. Livingston’s premium indoor cycling facility invites the public to sign up for their first ride free.

Click HERE to see the full class schedule.

During this week only, Cycle Bar is also participating in the Livingston Fitness Crawl, offering five days of free classes through Friday.  

Cycle Bar ...

Livingston Fitness Crawl: Five Days of Free Classes at 12 Livingston Businesses

LIVINGSTON, NJ — The public is invited to enjoy one free class at as many of Livingston’s fitness businesses as they would like during this week’s Livingston Fitness Crawl, a Livingston Business Improvement District event, beginning on April 23 and continuing through April 27.

For five days, no purchase is necessary at the following locations:

BARRE3 ...

Full Pet Grooming Service 25% OFF

LITTLE FALLS, NJ - Cloud Canine Grooming Salon & Spa in Little Falls is open for business and owner and pet stylist Melissa DiRoma is offering 25% off a FULL GROOMING SERVICE for all new customers. Call (973) 837-8884 or visit to schedule your appointment. Mention promo code TAP DOG for discount. 

About Cloud ...

Free Wellness Event at The Joint Chiropractic

WEST CALDWELL, NJ — The public is invited to a "Wellness Event to Remember" at The Joint Chiropractic in West Caldwell on Thursday, April 19 from 7 p.m. to  9 p.m.

Guests will include:

Michael Piercy, owner of The Lab
Justyna Debski, owner of Revive Mind Body
Karen Caplan, owner of Nutrition Transitions

Join the ...

Luxury Facial Services 50% OFF

MILLBURN, NJ - DeAmour Salon & Spa is proud to announce its newest team member, Renee Rudikh, formerly of the famous Georgette Klinger Spa at the Short Hills Mall.

Rudikh has extensive experience and specializes in a plethora of facial styles including: deep pore cleansing/European, microdermabrasion with collagen, teenage, men's, back, LED and customized European ...

YMCA $0 Enrollment in April

LIVINGSTON, NJ - For the month of April, the West Essex YMCA is offer $0 enrollment. 

Take advantage of all that your local Y has to offer for the whole family!

Personal Training
Group Classes
Low monthly membership
And much much more!...

Check out all that the Y has to offer HERE

About the West Essex YMCA:
The West Essex YMCA has ...

Upcoming Events


Wed, April 25, 10:00 AM

Estelle Finkel Center for Learning, Livingston

Upcoming 2018 Spring SAT and ACT Courses


Wed, April 25, 7:00 PM

Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, South Orange

Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity



Thu, April 26, 7:00 PM

Livingston High School Fitness & Wellness Center/Auxiliary Gym, Livingston

Livingston Public Schools Presents: Livingston ...


Essex County Executive Announces Improvements to County Parks System

April 22, 2018

ORANGE, NJ - Using the tennis courts in Essex County Irvington Park as the backdrop, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced last week that the tennis courts in Irvington Park and Weequahic Park, and the basketball courts in Ivy Hill Park and Monte Irvin Orange Park will receive facelifts with new asphalt playing surfaces, equipment and fencing. The project is part of ...

Abilities Expo 2018 Offers Resources for People With Special Needs

April 22, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Livingston’s Abilities Expo 2018 will be held on Sunday, April 29, from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Livingston High School. This family-friendly event showcases a variety of resources, products, services and technologies for people with special needs – all under one roof. The Expo is co-sponsored by Livingston Public Schools and the Livingston Advisory ...

Letter to the Editor: Don't Complain. Vote!

April 12, 2018

Don’t Complain; Vote!

It’s no secret that people have strong feelings about what’s happening in our country. It’s also true that much of politics is local. In November, 11th District residents will have the opportunity to choose a new congressional representative who will not only serve as a critical check on the federal level, but also determine how our distract fares ...

Cluelessly Clueless

I teenaged my way through high school under the assumption that my parents had no idea what I was doing.  I like to think I was pretty good at withholding information and presenting situations in ways that were other than they really were.


Still, sometimes they found things out.  Like the time my friends plopped me on our front door step at one o'clock in the morning ...