Tonight's western style dinner at Eddie Deen's party center here in Dallas was the first event in which finalists, media, food industry executives and supermarket consumer affairs directors were all together. Food and drink stations were set up around the huge room serving lots of beans, salsa, chips, carved beef brisket and smoked turkey, lamb chops, shrimp and lots more. Good appetites are one things most of these people have in common. Finalists, relieved to have the long-awaited competition behind them, were among the first on the dance floor doing line dancing. Even Pillsbury president, Juliana Chugg, a 40-something young woman from Australia, mixed and mingled with the rest of us. She and I agreed that Melbourne, where she lived for six years, is a fine food town. We even have enjoyed some of the same restaurants.
Fun as it was, lots of us headed back to the hotel early, since we have another 6;15 a.m. breakfast tomorrow, followed by the awards ceremony at 7:30. It's not so hard for those of us from the eastern time zones since the time is just an hour earlier, but it's like getting up in the middle of the night for finalists from California and other western states.
Log on tomorrow and we'll let you know who is the $1 million winner of the 43rd Pillsbury Bake-Off and we'll give you the winning recipe. In Wednesday's Food section you'll read more about the Bake-Off and some of the interesting people I got to know here