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'Oh ffffudge!': 'Food Network Challenge' reboot begins with a movie homage

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Michelle Rose / TV Media
Ian Ziering hosts "Food Network Challenge"

Ian Ziering hosts "Food Network Challenge"

Quick! Name your favorite holiday movie. If you said "A Christmas Story" (1983) and you happen to love cake, you're in for a special treat this week. (If you said 1988's "Die Hard" and you hate cake, well, maybe there will be something for you next year.)

It's been nearly a decade since the last installment aired in 2011, but "Food Network Challenge" returns this week with six new episodes beginning Monday, Dec. 23.

Actor Ian Ziering -- he of "Beverly Hills 90210" fame and the "Sharknado" franchise that inspired my Christmas sweater this year -- hosts this reboot of the race-against-the-clock, pop culture-themed competition.

There have been other skill sets, themes and recipes featured in past competitions, but "Food Network Challenge" has leaned pretty heavily on elite-level cake making. This 2019-20 edition is no exception: It challenges some of the top bakers, cake and sugar artists in the country to create supremely decorated, specially themed cake masterpieces.

Each episode begins with four competitors before the elimination round. The three remaining food artists must then compete for the final prize of $10,000 and the fancy new moniker of "Food Network Challenge" Champion.

As mentioned, the theme for the first episode is "A Christmas Story." And while the news release talks about there being "no shortage of 'Oh ffffudge!' moments," I'm sure I'm not the only one who's hoping to see a pink bunnysuit, a Red Ryder air rifle (that's all Ralphie wanted for Christmas, after all) and a "major award" leg lamp at some point.

Food Network's eponymous competition series has had an incredible track record of launching new TV talent, including Duff Goldman, who competed in 2005 ("Ace of Cakes" launched the following year). And this new batch of competitors will surely enjoy a career boost from competing in front of a national audience in the coming weeks, when the episode themes will include "Back to the Future," Pokémon, Monopoly and "The Wizard of Oz."

But if you can't get enough of "A Christmas Story," even after the Dec. 23 episode of "Food Network Challenge," you might want to plan a visit to A Christmas Story House in Cleveland. It's the actual house used in the movie, complete with leg lamp and a bar of soap in the bathroom (I've been, it's true). Be sure to go in the winter if you want to see snow, though fans will point out much of the white stuff in the "neighborhood bully" scenes wasn't real anyway -- it was soap flakes and firefighting foam.