ORLANDO/CENTRAL FLORIDA Pillsbury held its Bake-Off Contest in a new location this year and brought in a new celebrity partner, Martha Stewart. The talk-show host chatted with contestants as they prepared their entries Monday morning inside a ballroom at the Peabody Orlando. On Tuesday she announced the million-dollar winner during a live broadcast of The Martha Stewart Show from a temporary studio in the hotel.
The contest was last held in 2010 at the Waldorf-Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. “Orlando is easily accessible from all over the United States and has many large hotels that are able to accommodate our space and service needs,” said contest manager Onju Sturlaugson. “Florida is a great destination this time of the year and has many attractions and activities if the finalists want to extend their stay after the contest.”
This was the 45th rendition of the contest that invites home cooks to create original recipes using Pillsbury products along with products from sponsors such as Progresso, Hershey’s, Land O’Lakes, and Fisher Nuts.
Setup began last Thursday inside the hotel’s Windermere Ballroom, where organizers created 100 mini kitchens—one for each contestant—equipped with a cabinet, countertop, chair, and G.E. electric range. Contestants also used nearly 1,000 measuring cups, more than 300 mixing bowls, and 270 spatulas. Along a back wall of the ballroom, 28 refrigerators held supplies such as eggs and butter.
This year's contest began online more than a year ago. A panel selected 90 recipes to become finalists and 20 that faced off in an online contest for the 10 remaining spots. Each of the 100 finalists won a trip to Orlando, a G.E. microwave oven, and $125. The grand-prize winner, selected by a panel of 12 food writers and industry executives, received $1 million and $10,000 worth of G.E. kitchen appliances.