Then, in early August 2009, a phone call from Pillsbury changed my bucket list – CHECK – a trip to the Bake-Off was finally mine! My Bistro Style Onion and Artichoke Galette was chosen for the Orlando 44th Bake-Off. Color me happy and over the rainbow plus the recipe uses my favorite Pillsbury product – the easy to use refrigerated pie crust!
The Pillsbury Bake-Off, The Queen of Cook-Off Contests, lived up to its wonderful reputation for being exciting, highly organized and worthy of the efforts one makes to be among of “the chosen.” Making new friends and seeing my friends Debbie and Kristina Vanni from my past cook-off experiences was equally thrilling. The Bake-Off was/is a memorable gathering of like-minded food-loving amateurs who enjoy the challenge of creating delicious foods and sharing their talents with the world. I had the pleasure of being there too. Onward and Upward to my new cook-off bucket list – Double Check!
Bon Appetit, Y’all!!
I didn’t take one second of this adventure for granted. It was a wonderful experience from beginning to end and I am now known in my community and at work as “the Bake-Off Contest guy!” It wasn’t my year to take home a prize but I was a winner in so many wonderful ways. One of the unexpected benefits of this wonderful contest are the friendships that I have made. Veterans and newbies alike, we all shared the same passion in that moment, on that day, and I am thrilled to remain dear friends with so many.
On the plane ride home, I tried to capture my memories:
I was sitting in my cubicle at work when I got the call from Pillsbury that I was chosen as a finalist for the 2010 Pillsbury Bake-Off. Luckily, most people had gone home and couldn’t hear me hyperventilating as I digested this exciting news…I had been entering this contest for years! The recipe that finally earned me a spot at the Bake-Off was a waffle made out of cookie dough.
From the moment that I got that call, until my arrival in Orlando for the actual event, my life was a non-stop Pillsbury blur. There was paperwork to fill out, pictures to be taken, and media events to pursue. The best part was that I was able to connect with so many other finalists. My friends, family and co-workers were all so excited for me, but when they tired of hearing about it, I could chat with my new Bake-Off friends. We were all in it together, cheering each other on and soothing each other’s nerves. By the time we all met, it was like we had known each other for years.
The enormity of the event didn’t really dawn on me until I was standing in front of my range, waiting for the official start of the Bake-Off. There was a million dollars at stake! I was more than just a little dazed. My range neighbor to the left, Maurice, tried to break the tension by offering me a cinnamon chip, one of the ingredients in his cheesecake dessert, but before I could even bring it up to my mouth, one of the Pillsbury “helpers” swooped in. Apparently, it is a big no-no to move any ingredients from one station to the next. Yikes! This was serious business.
It didn’t take long for the tension to ease up. As soon as the official opening announcement was made, there was a flurry of activity as everyone got to cooking. I was happy that my range was in the far back corner of the room, as it seemed just a little less hectic. There were cameras, interviews, and visits from the Doughboy and from Sandra Lee, our official emcee. The time flew by, but I managed to get two batches of waffles in, one for judging and one for show. I did notice that my range neighbor to the right, Sue, was making some mighty cute little cookie cups that she filled with ice cream.
In the end, my waffles didn’t win a prize, but the experience of going to the Pillsbury Bake-Off made me feel like winner. Two years later, I still keep in touch with many of the people I met, including my range neighbor, Sue. It turns out that those cute little ice cream cookie cups were worth a million dollars!
Come back tomorrow for more stories and lots of photos from two more contestants!
To read more about the Pillsbury Bake-Off go to http://www.bakeoff.com/
To find the recipe for “Mini Ice Cream Cookie Cups” go to http://goo.gl/wmZix
Photos of “Mini Ice Cream Cookie Cups” are by my daughter, Kristina Vanni. Visit her blog at: http://www.betterrecipes.com/blogs/daily-dish
To read all my previous Bake-Off blogs:
Bake-Off #1: http://su.pr/7gmylO
Bake-Off #2: http://su.pr/2zgjZn
Bake-Off #3: http://su.pr/7VZzZS
Bake-Off #4: http://su.pr/292acQ
Bake-Off #5: http://su.pr/2yOSvP
Bake-Off #6: http://su.pr/28VYBh
Bake-Off #7: http://su.pr/1hk3nb
Bake-Off #8: http://su.pr/22JMGd
Bake-Off #9: http://su.pr/2KkA2E
Bake-Off #10: http://su.pr/8awD1k
Bake-Off #11: http://su.pr/1CmPvD
Bake-Off #12: http://su.pr/3ogo5M
Bake-Off #13: http://su.pr/1a4HYQ
Bake-Off #14: http://su.pr/3tgiV5
Bake-Off #15: http://su.pr/7tQXBu
Bake-Off #16: http://su.pr/9nPW7c
Bake-Off #17: http://su.pr/9WIaqm
Bake-Off #18: http://su.pr/6MMS45
Bake-Off #19: http://su.pr/2A7GIX
Bake-Off #20: http://su.pr/2MwjlD
Bake-Off #21: http://su.pr/1nIgIJ
Bake-Off #22: http://su.pr/1nkUgJ
Bake-Off #23 http://su.pr/20jQDK
Bake-Off #24 http://su.pr/AMfFSj
Bake-Off #25 http://su.pr/4btzLZ
Bake-Off #26 http://su.pr/2sJrvp
Bake-Off #27 http://su.pr/9cG4B1
Bake-Off #28 http://su.pr/24CMm0
Bake-Off #29 http://su.pr/8th5eg
Bake-Off #30 http://su.pr/AUUGkZ
Bake-Off #31 http://su.pr/9j9TQ6
Bake-Off #32 http://su.pr/76Fl0s
Bake-Off #33 http://su.pr/26Q4KJ
Bake-Off #34 (part 1) http://su.pr/3TlcV
(part 2) http://su.pr/7suCub
Bake-Off #35 http://su.pr/1lZC8X
Bake-Off #36 http://su.pr/1Ogl7Q
Bake-Off #37 http://goo.gl/39Fh0
Bake-Off #38 http://goo.gl/5xrPz
Bake-Off #39 http://goo.gl/ca52t
Bake-Off #40 http://goo.gl/Kj0NQ
Bake-Off #41 http://goo.gl/SlRCz
Bake-Off #42 http://goo.gl/cw1Rs
Bake-Off #43 http://goo.gl/PMLlz
Thanks so much for including me in this–it was one of the best experiences of my life!
It wouldn’t have been the same without you, Brett! Thank you for sharing your experiences with us all.
I was honored to be included in this exciting adventure!
Mary Louise, it was an honor to include your story. You are the best, my sweet friend!