Last week, I basically stopped writing when I was getting to the good part of my Pillsbury Bake Off story, which was pretty cruel. Sorry!
So, the first day of the planned activities (which was the day before the Pillsbury Bake Off contest) began with an introduction to the ovens that we would be using. I felt pretty confident, since I have almost the exact same GE oven at home. Phew!
Then, we had lunch in a big ballroom, buffet style….
It was yummy! Especially the triangular carrot cake…
Now, the order of events is a bit fuzzy for me, but I believe that following lunch I had a recorded (video) interview with the lovely people at Pyrex which is also known as World Kitchen. They make those fantastic glass baking dishes and measuring cups that you got from your grandma and use everyday. Yeah, big time! This is the video they made:
And this one, too!
Then, I believe we had the famous briefing about all of the rules and regulations pertaining to the contest. And there are a lot of them. The finalists are not allowed to go to bathroom without an escort. They are serious, people! Have I mentioned that a MILLION dollars is at stake?!?
That evening we were treated to a lovely dinner reception. I remember hanging out with the wonderful Janet Gill and Kim Van Dunk and their guests. I was feeling a bit awkward to be solo at this point, but everyone was so nice to include me with their group. I just want to stress that EVERYONE was nice. There was really none of that obnoxious competitive vibe that you would expect at a contest with such high stakes.
Here are some photos of the dinner:
That night, the most important thing was sleep. A melatonin and a NyQuil later, I was in dreamland. We had an early wake up call for a quick (nervous!) breakfast before the actual Pillsbury Bake Off contest began. We were not allowed to take any phones/cameras on the floor with us. Luckily, Some professionals got some good shots for me!
We marched in to the beat of the Pillsbury band, and I was lucky enough to be #100. The last one. I was also at the last range, which was great, since no one was on my left….Plenty of elbow room.
I baked my butt off (not really, it is still there, but you know what I mean). My oven was super-hot! They preheated all of our ovens for us, so I became convinced that my pie was baking too quickly. I messed with the temperature. I second guessed myself. It turns out that having 3.5 hours to bake something that needs a good two hours to cool down was a bit of a mistake. I waited and waited for the darn thing to cool, but alas, I served it a bit too warm. I found out later that a blogger had talked to a judge who said that my pie was too hot when served to them. You can’t imagine how many times I have kicked myself for not waiting until the last moment to serve… Oh well!
Anyhow, the next three hours were the longest of my life. I tried to kill time before the awards ceremony by shopping for souvenirs and looking at the art all around Vegas. I saw:
And of course, this:
Then it was time for the main event! I was sitting in the first row, dead center in front of the stage. Was this a sign? Apparently not, but I felt a little sick anyway…
Padma Lakshmi was the host, and I can honestly say that she is stunningly beautiful in person. I stopped her on the way to the bathroom to shake hands and introduce myself. I am such a dork!
They excruciatingly announced a couple awards in between each course. The winners received these adorable golden doughboys. I want one, like, seriously. Karen Harris, who quite deservedly won the Eagle Brand award for her amazing Bacon Corncakes with Warm Maple Cream, has one. She is my friend. That will have to be good enough…for now.
Finally, Padma (who was chewing every time she was called up to the stage! She eats….) called the top three, one of whom was about to suddenly become a millionaire. Here is what it looked like:
Then, she announced that my friend Glori Spriggs won the grand prize for her Loaded Potato Pinwheels! Here is the recipe, in case you want to taste a million dollars…
Confetti exploded all around me! It was in my dessert, which was gorgeous, btw…
So, Glori won and I was happy for her. I really didn’t feel jealous at all, and I was proud of myself for that. I am annoyed that I served my pie too hot, though.
The next morning, after a quick breakfast and a ride to the plane, I saw this craziness:
Lastly, on the plane home, I switched seats to sit next to one of my fellow contestants, Jen Beckman. This was one of the highlights of my trip. She is amazing, a friend now, and talked me through some wicked turbulence on the way home. Our kids play together, and we have hung out a few times. This is what it is all about! The friendships are the big take away. Not the million. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t turn it away, but Pillsbury made all of us feel like a million, and that is what I will remember.