Jonathan Bennett is the host of Food Network’s newest competition show, Cake Wars. We recently chatted with Jonathan about his baking skills (or lack thereof), pop rocks, Lisa Kudrow and what sets Cake Wars apart from other competition shows on television right now. Check out our interview below, and tune in for Cake Wars every Monday night at 8/7c on Food Network!
Thank you for taking the time to do this with us. I know you’re a busy guy!
“Are you kidding? It’s great, I’m excited!”
Okay, so I’m just gonna jump right in, then! So we know Jonathan the actor and now Jonathan the host. We got a little glimpse into Jonathan the person on Dancing With the Stars, and I want to expand on that a little more. When did you know that you wanted to be an actor, and what about the business appealed to you?
“Well, you know what I’ve always said? I never knew a time when I didn’t want to be an actor. From the time I was a little kid, my parents were just like, “yep, he’s an actor!” There was never a moment when we didn’t know that. Almost.”
So it was in you from the beginning?
“Yeah, like people have always said, “what is he gonna be when he grows up?” when you’re in high school and stuff like that. My parents were always like, “he’s gonna be an actor.” They could tell from the time I was little.”
Okay, great. And right off the bat, you struck it pretty big. I’m not gonna ask you a bunch of Mean Girls questions, cause I know you’re probably sick of those, but as an actor, what does it mean to you to have been in a film that has withstood that test of time?
“As an actor, you just get lucky sometimes like that. It’s interesting because what do you do when Mean Girls is your first movie? Like where do you go from that? It’s not like you’re doing a bunch of independent movies starting your career- you start off with the biggest moneymaking teen comedy ever made. That’s insane. I was just really lucky to get that and it means a lot to have like- fans still watch it, fans still love it and still come up to you on the street and tell you how much they love your work. It’s been over ten years and it’s still going strong. As an actor, it’s just really lucky.”
It is one of my favorites, so before I quote it, I’d better move on!
So, let’s talk about Cake Wars- it’s not your average competition show. So when the opportunity came along, what was it about the show that attracted you to it?
“Who doesn’t like cake? I love cake. Everybody loves cake. And I’ve always been a huge fan of hosting any type of competition show. So, if you put an elimination round and people winning prizes at the end? I want to host it. So what a perfect combination of like- two things that are awesome. Competition shows, and cake. I was like, “this just sounds like it’s gonna be a blast,” and it completely is. It’s the most fun competition show. There’s so much suspense and craziness, and they literally blow your mind with some stuff. It absolutely boggles my mind.”
I’ve been watching. That Poison Ivy cake last week was insane.
“I mean- like, that’s cake. Who does that? I’m like, I don’t really know that much about cake- which is funny because I host a show about cake. But all I do is bring the jokes and bring the fun, and they let the judges do what they do.”
Right, it’s pretty fantastic. We’re two episodes in, and all of our themes so far have been kind of pop-culture related. We’ve seen The Simpsons, we’ve seen DC Comics. Can you give us an idea of the other themes we might see here throughout the season?
“You’re gonna see Sound of Music because it’s their fiftieth anniversary. You’re gonna see Girl Scouts. Nintendo- which is a great one because everyone loves Nintendo. And to see what they do with that Nintendo cake is really cool.”
And the contestants on the show are some pretty talented people. How would you do as a competitor on the show? Do you have any baking skills?
“I am not good at baking- I’m more of a grillmaster. I’m not a good baker. So I definitely am glad that I’m hosting the show and not competing on it.”
And hosting is great, but the judges actually get to taste the cakes. Do they save any for you or do the judges just have all the fun?
“Okay, well, the best part is when we go to commercial break. I get to taste the cake. And I’ll tell you what, my favorite cake so far was the one where they put bratwurst in it because it was so delicious. Whoever thought that you could put bratwurst in a cake?”
That’s one we haven’t seen yet, then, cause that’s crazy! And I mean, you’ve done some acting and now you’ve made the leap into hosting. Was it a leap at all? Was there a learning curve? Was it more or less different than you thought it would be? Is it different at all from acting?
“It’s 100% different from acting- it’s the complete opposite of acting. You can’t screw it up with hosting, because you just get to be yourself. It’s a completely different ballgame. It’s fun because I’m hosting this show, and then while I would be hosting the show I would literally leave the set from hosting Cake Wars and would go and shoot Awkward on MTV. So I would act for like six hours and then go and host the show for like eight hours. I would go from the host brain to the acting brain in the same day.”
So you’re getting the best of both worlds.
“Yeah, it’s amazing.”
That is amazing. And it seems like you do everything. You’ve acted, you’ve produced, you’ve hosted, you’ve danced. What are some other things you’d like to accomplish in your career that you haven’t yet?
“Right now, I’ve taken on so many different ventures in entertainment that I think the next thing would probably have to either be writing a book or… I kinda want to maybe do a reality show? That would be my next thing, that way I’ve done it all.”
Like you’d want to be on a reality show? Or host a reality show?
“Either. Like I’d want to be on a reality show or maybe have my own show like the Kardashians? You never know.”
You’re not afraid to do anything.
“I think actors nowadays are afraid to crossover into that reality realm because they think it might not be the best move career-wise. But I think reality isn’t going anywhere, guys, it’s here to stay. So you can embrace it, you know, and who knows what will happen if you do?”
True. Similar question regarding other actors. Do you have a dream costar, or a bucket list of sorts of actors you want to work with? Is there anybody you haven’t worked with yet who it would make your life if you worked with them?
“Lisa Kudrow because I’m such a huge Comeback fan. That would be awesome.”
I was thinking of questions earlier, and I thought this question was a little ridiculous till I came up with my own answer- then I laughed about it. If someone were to make a Jonathan Bennett cake, what flavor would it be and what would it look like? On a Cake Wars scale- crazy artwork and stuff.
“Well, I think if you were gonna make a Jonathan Bennett cake, it’d be the same reason why everyone thinks of Jonathan Bennett as Aaron Samuels, which is why I’m so happy to be hosting so people can see my real personality and actually realize I’m the farthest thing from Aaron Samuels. I am goofy and cheesy and crazy and funny and I like to make people laugh by doing stupid stuff- which is the farthest from what Aaron Samuels’ character was. So, I think if they were to make a Jonathan Bennett cake, it would be kind of plain, vanilla and boring on the outside, and then when you cut into it it would be filled with like- pop rocks, and crazy flavors and candy.”
A pop rocks cake would be amazing!
“Yeah, it would definitely be pop rocks in there.”
That’s a baking ingredient I’ve never thought of! I’ve got one more question for you. Food Network is usually a network that you just kind of find when you’re flipping through channels. It’s not a network where you’re like, “oh okay, it’s 7 o’clock on a Monday, I need to drop everything and tune in!” So tell me how Cake Wars- pardon the pun, here- breaks the mold of the typical Food Network shows and why it is a show that you need to just drop everything and tune in for on Monday nights.
“The reason why you need to tune into Cake Wars is because- it’s not your average competition cooking show. And because our guest judges are always interesting, always fun to watch, and because the competition between the players gets so intense that it actually becomes nail-biting. So you have to tune in to see who is gonna win because it’s gonna get you hooked. And it’s just fun! It’s cake for competition- two of America’s favorite things. How can it go wrong?”
That is entirely true. Are there any celebrity guests or anybody we might know coming on the judging panel?
“No, because I can’t talk about them!”