Sixth-Grade Baker Competes in National Baking Show
Nemo Tsai's pandemic baking hobby earns him fame and a chance at $25,000.
Published in December, 2020
Nemo Tsai likes to stay busy. "He's kind of a crazy kid," says his father Paul Tsai. "He has his own interests and he just pursues them." A champion golfer, the Forsythe 6th-grader's days are typically filled with school, golf practice, and working at his family's Japanese restaurant, Godaiko.
In the early days of the pandemic when school was not in session, Nemo started to watch baking videos on Youtube. "We donated sushi to the U-M hospital and I thought it would be fun to add my sweet treats to the bags," says Nemo. "It just blossomed from there," says his father. Nemo's talent caught the attention of the Food Network, and he was invited to compete in the reality show The Kids Baking Championship.
"We found out in May or June that he was going to be on the show," says Paul Tsai. "We know nothing about baking and we thought we have to get Nemo some help. Zingerman's was closed but they do a bunch of teaching, including online Zoom classes in the bakery there. After the Governor relaxed the restrictions, [Zingerman's Bakehouse] allowed Nemo to go in person for private lessons with Meg Panchame."
"It's amazing to have the opportunity to do this show and I hope to do more," says Nemo. "I like where I can share my baking abilities with other people and combine the different flavors and create different cakes." But while baking is an exciting hobby that has gotten him a lot of attention, golf is his first love. "Baking is the backup, golfing is the main thing," he says. Of his packed schedule, Nemo says "It's definitely tiring at times. Dream big and go for it! Anything is possible. Don't let the pandemic stop you, just go for it."
When I spoke with the Tsai's they were in Palm Beach where Nemo was competing in the Honda Classic PGA golf tournament. "I like this part of my life; I get to spend time with my family and I get to travel," says Nemo. "In the show there's a lot of pressure. The pressure of working in the restaurant and playing golf helped train me for the show."
Nemo is sharing his love of golf and baking with his little sister. "She started golfing and she wants to be better than me. She's doing pretty well! I'm trying to train her to bake too."
[Originally published in December, 2020.]
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