I’ve always wondered what it was like to be a finalist at the Pillsbury Bake-off and win the million dollar prize. So when I was invited to attend the event as a member of the media of course I jumped at the chance.
Much to my surprise one of our members Cathy (pictured on the right) was a finalist! So not only did I get to attend the event, I also got a chance to meet Cathy and her husband. Even with all the excitement of the weekend (tastings, food news seminar and demos by GE), meeting Cathy was the highlight of the trip. She is just delightful!
Thanks General Mills for inviting us to attend.
Some Pillsbury Bake-off tips for future finalists….
1) Expect to use an oven and a stove you’ve never worked with before… temperatures will be different. Instead of making your recipe on your home stove every day… go make it at a friend’s house and see if you need to make adjustments with oven temp.
2) Use a sponsored product in your recipe… there were only 6 recipes that used Jiffy Peanut Butter in this year’s bake-off. So if you used that ingredient you’d have had a 1 in 6 chance of winning a $5,000 prize!
3) You will be asked to make your recipe three times. One for the judges, one for the display and one for press to taste as they walk around. My advice is to get your judges entry first, then the display entry and then… look at your watch. If there’s about 30 minutes left in the event – don’t bother with the tasting dish. The media can’t taste them all (we tried, it’s impossible). Stop cooking and go walk around and soak up the day. The event reminded me of a wedding… you’re so focused on the day that you forget to be in the moment. So go walk around and see your friend’s recipes, take photos and pat yourself on the back for surviving it all. The event goes super fast. I’m sure many of the finalists that watch my video will say to themselves… “I don’t even remember that.”
4) At night there is a party for the finalists where they announce the 4 main finalists who will be flown to Oprah the next day. This party was probably my only disappointment of the entire weekend (well that and there wasn’t much food for a vegetarian). As soon as the party started they did the announcements. Half of the finalists left the party immediately once they discovered they were not going to Oprah. Some cried and it absolutely broke my heart. I would have cried too! My only suggestion would be to let these finalists (who are already winners for making it this far) get to enjoy the evening and dinner before you announce the winners. I’m sure it was a logistical reason why it had to be that way… but there was time for a press conference. But out of respect for the finalists who have been promoting the bake-off to all their friends and family for months… even an hour more of excitement would have made the party a lot more fun. And this party was not cheap… Also, with a little more light in the room, the food media there could have taken more photos of the food.
If you were a finalist, I’d love to hear your insights and tips for future finalists… please feel free to post a comment below. More videos will be added this week! It was an honor to root Cathy on and meet her friends.