San Antonio’s Lila Smethurst, a seventh grader at Hill Middle School, is competing with 11 other contestants from around the nation on the Food Network television show, “Kids Baking Championship.”

What happened

The show’s 12th season premiere aired on Food Network on Jan. 1 with co-hosts chef Duff Goldman and actress Valerie Bertinelli guiding the 12 competitors through their first baking challenge—photo portrait cakes.

According to a December North East ISD news release, Smethurst has enjoyed watching “Kids Baking Championship” for several years and dreamt of getting onto the show.

“Baking makes me happy. I love the overall process of it, and I just like being in the kitchen. It really has been a dream come true to be on my favorite show,” Smethurst said in a statement.

In the season premiere, Smethurst baked a red velvet cake with mascarpone pastry cream and cream cheese frosting.

The episode showed Smethurst’s efforts resulting in a smushed cake, but Goldman and Bertinelli, serving as tasting judges, said they both enjoyed the flavor and texture of the cake. Smethurst survived the first round of elimination and advanced to a second episode, which will air Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. Central Standard Time.

What they’re saying

Smethurst said past contestants’ culinary creations inspired her to recreate many of those recipes at home and helped her to develop baking skills.

“In 2018, when my mom got cancer, we were all at home for a while, so I used that time to bake a lot. We would watch the show, and maybe they would bake cookies, and I would kind of take that as a challenge to try and bake cookies, too,” Smethurst said in a statement.