Jamaal Nettles knew it was terrible. But when family members got their first forkfuls of a box cake he made, they smiled and ignored that the pre-teen baker mixed up the oil with the water in the pre-made mix.
The 31-year-old gay Atlanta baker – fresh from competing on Season 7 of the Food Network’s “Holiday Baking Challenge” – has come a long way since.
“With baking, it just kind of snowballed from my love of being in the kitchen with my family,” Nettles said in a new episode of Podcast Q. “That got me into actually cooking. I have a sweet tooth like no other, and so that kind of shifted me into wanting to make cakes and everything.”
When he started baking, Nettles liked to experiment and wasn’t afraid to make mistakes.
“I started with the box cake mixes and kind of doing my own thing, which I remember a couple of those and they were terrible,” Nettles said. “My family was really nice and tasting everything that I did.”
Fast forward two decades, and the hospitality veteran – he slung drinks behind a bar and created sweet treats for local bake shops – puts his baking smarts behind a new venture that he formally launched this month as the “Holiday Baking Championship” aired.
“All the different varieties of pies excite me, and that’s the first listing on my menu for Butter & Salt Baking Company is pies. I want people to order them. I love making them,” Nettles said.
During the Podcast Q interview, Nettles also discussed living down saying he’s “single and ready to jingle” on national TV, described how a spreading cheesecake killed his competition and offered tips for beginners inspired to bake during the holidays.
“I wouldn’t be opposed to jingling, but I’m not actively seeking it out, especially with COVID and quarantine – maybe some virtual dates or something. But it’s getting cold outside, so cuddling is fun,” Nettles said.
Gay Atlanta baker Jeff Gray also competed with Nettles on “Holiday Baking Championship.”
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