Blogs > News-Herald Food and Travel

Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Monday, April 14, 2008

the Bake-Off begins

The excitement level here in Dallas is high as the 43rd Pillsbury Bake-Off begins. We assembled for breakfast at 6:15 in the Dallas Fairmont host hotel, where just about every one of its nearly 500 rooms is filled with people connected with the Bake-Off. We were welcomed by Sandra Lee, whose 70/30 Semi-Homemade philosophy personifies the dishes made by finalists. Tomorrow morning she will the wolrd know who is the $1 million winner. After breakfast the 92 women and eight me finalists lined up for the Grand Parade into the hotel's Regency Ballroom, where three rows of mini-kitchens each numbered and named with both recipe title and contestant named are set up. It was touching to watch them say goodby to their signifcant others who accompanied them here. Husbands helped wives into aprons and made sure hair was in place and everything was in order before sending them off to where TV crews and photographers awaited. Each contestant had to go into the competition without purses and with pockets emptied. (No chance that our own Linda Bibbo of Bainbridge Township will be able to smuggle in any of her homemade vanilla!) A few minutes before 8 the Grand Parade began as the music cranked up and media were herded behind velvet roping to form an aisle. I stood next to a 3-person Food Network crew and talked to the producer. She told me there are four crews just like hers in various positions around the competition floor. During the four hours contenders have to prepare their recipes three different times, each will be interviewed by a Food Network crew. I finally spotted Linda Bibbo in the parade and gave her a thumbs up as she came past me. More than a few eyes twinkled with tears in the bright lights as the emotions of the last few days caught up with finalists. But now they've gotten down to work in their kitchens and in four more hours they'll be done. I'm headed back to the contest floor now to see what I can learn about their techniques and uses of ingredients.


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