Most children spend their childhoods creating lemonade stands, playing hide and seek with friends, and begging their parents to be served that irresistible second serving of dessert. However, for 13-year-old Scarsdale resident Ozan Kopelman, things are a bit different — his parents are the ones begging for last licks of his intricate and delicious confections before the treats are posted for the world to see on his Instagram account, @ozan_bakes, and sold on his website, ozanbakes.com.
Kopelman, an eighth grade student at Scarsdale Middle School, was accepted to be a contestant on the 11th season of Food Network’s Kids Baking Championship. The reality show premiered last December and the season finale is slated for Monday, Feb. 27.
The Kids Baking Championship, a competition program that debuted in 2015, holds a series of challenges over 10 episodes for 12 contestants from ages 8-13. The winner of the season gets $25,000 and is featured in Food Network’s magazine.
After making pumpkin bread with his mom in the fall of 2019 and then continuing to bake on his own, Kopleman discovered his passion for baking. He told the Inquirer his intense passion for baking is what pushed him to learn everything on his own. Although Kopelman has only been pursuing this hobby for the past three years, he said he has discovered a special joy in the art of baking.
“My favorite thing about baking is you can take a bunch of ingredients that have their own characteristics and qualities and by combining them, [and although] it seems like it comes from nothing, you make this incredible final product. And then when I’m decorating something, the creativity that’s involved with that — I think it’s really cool,” he said.
Quickly building new techniques and skills, Kopelman soon learned to bake like a master, making everything from a simple batch of chocolate chip cookies to complex cakes, macarons and more. His favorite treat, he said, is a “browniesu,” a mix between tiramisu and brownies, which is his personal creation and one of his signature baked goods. That particular dessert is both creative and complex, a perfect representation of him as a baker, he said.
Watching the Kids Baking Championship ever since he was a child, Kopelman’s biggest inspiration throughout his baking journey has been Duff Goldman, a judge on the Kids Baking Championship series. However, Kopelman said the show in general was a huge inspiration for him, and without it he might not have discovered his passion. “Watching kids my age or even younger than me doing these incredible things inspired me to start baking and try and get on the show,” he said.
Kopelman has only recently expanded his business to customers other than his close friends and family, starting his online website in 2022. He manages his website on his own by taking new products on and off, writing captions and adding photographs.
Kopelman said it was a surreal feeling when he first stepped into the kitchen he had been watching for so many years on his TV screen. Despite the excitement, however, stepping into a new and unfamiliar kitchen was a bit intimidating as he didn’t have the same level of comfort with it as he did his home kitchen. That was one of Kopelman’s obstacles pertaining to the show, along with time management.
“I think time management was probably the most difficult part because some people are definitely not used to working as fast as they can [when cooking] at home. So going from baking just at a normal pace at your own leisure to trying to get everything done as quickly as possible is definitely a big change.”
Kopelman described the audition process for the Kids Baking Championship as very selective with many rounds taking place to choose the top 12 candidates. He said he did not expect to be chosen, and was caught off guard when he heard his dream had come true. “I was so happy because when I first applied, a couple of months passed and I got no response. I really thought when I applied I didn’t think I was gonna get a response … but then when I got the response, I started to make my way through rounds of testing. I was like, Oh my God, this happened … It was a goal that was set for me to try and push myself that I didn’t think I would actually ever achieve it. So when I did actually achieve it, it was kind of shocking.”
The program finale will air on the Food Network Monday, Feb. 27, at 8 p.m. Kopelman is not a finalist but no doubt he’ll be watching from his home in Greenacres.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.