We were watching the Food Network again last night and caught up on “The Next Food Network Star” then we watch “Food Network Challenge” and this segment was all about the 43rd Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest which was held on April 14, 2008 in Dallas, TX to win the million dollar top prize. The top 100 finalists were given 3 hours to make 3 attempts at preparing their recipe and then submitting it to the judges. Each contestant had to use a product from the Pillsbury line in one of five categories. The winning recipe for the $1,000,000 prize went to Carolyn Gurtz of Gaithersburg, MD for her Double-Delight Peanut Butter Cookies, she entered this recipe in the Sweet Treats category.
Another contestant that was featured in the segment was Edgar Rudberg from Saint Paul, MN who submitted his recipe for Salmon Pastries with Dill Pesto which we really thought looked very good. He won the $5,000 prize for best Entertaining Appetizers Category. This recipe is very easy and quick to prepare using a Pillsbury Pie Crust product and a nice pesto of fresh dill weed and salmon, which is always a winning flavor combination. He was one of only two contestants who entered a recipe that included salmon. It was a risky entry, but he did win in his category!
One other contestant that the show highlighted but did not win in her category but seemed very deserving of an award was Audrey Madyun of Toledo, OH who was a 2008 finalist. She submitted her recipe in the Breakfast and Brunches Category for Tropical Sunshine Flatcakes with Orange Cream. We really liked the idea behind this recipe, Audrey used the Pillsbury Orange Rolls product, and then flattens them out with a rolling pin while adding some chopped pecans into them before baking. Then she serves this with some orange cream made from the orange icing and some whipped cream and also has pineapple and mandarin oranges to serve on top of them. We are going to try these out soon!
Watching this show reminded me of a food challenge that I participated in as an apprentice back in 1986. It was an American Culinary Federation Food Show Competition for cold food display held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Orleans. I submitted two mirror displays, one was a Ham Mousseline and Vegetable Terrine, and the other was a Pork Loin with Farci Meat Display. I won a Bronze Metal in the Apprentice Category, and this raised my stature among chefs that I worked with at the time. The event was not televised nor did it draw any media attention, but it was a fun event in any case.
I wonder what it would have been like if the Food Network was around back in the heyday of my young culinary career? It is interesting how few celebrity chefs there were then and how prevalent food and the restaurant industry is on television today!