I can't say enough good things about Pillsbury overall and all of the wonderful staff and finalists I met while in Orlando (and since I'm still sitting in an airport for another 5 hours, I will).
The Hilton at the Bonnet Creek resort was pristine and grand. We had a lovely 3 nights there and wish we could have stayed long enough to glide down the lazy pool river on a tube.
Florida was green (I told everyone it was still winter in Utah because it was when we left) and warm, mostly sunny, although a bit windy a good half of our trip.
As for the Bake-Off itself. Well, since I already posted the itinerary, you sort of know what I was doing. On competition morning, Monday, I ate too much for breakfast, wondered about the bathroom break they promised, smiled for the cameras, and clapped my way down the aisles as we paraded to our range number. The second batch of pizza pretzels was perfect enough to send to the judges. I sent some over for display and photography. I was swarmed when I finally put out my "please sample" sign and all the while I smiled, danced, and winked at Hylan in the distance during the three and a half hours I was on the contestant floor. Oh, the lights. The attention. The drams. And all of the great positive feedback. It was an experience never to be forgotten and one to be repeated if ever I can come up with another clever recipe.
Although it was disappointing not to win any additional awards, 92 other contestants and I can say we still had a good time partying it up on the dance floor Monday night. We were treated like royalty the entire time. How can you complain about that?
I'm leaving a myriad of details out because I think long blogs are hard to read and if you're that curious, you can always ask me. But this much I will say, it sure made me feel good when the president of Pillsbury talked to me and told me how she and the staff were making bets (literally) on who would win the entire contest and she picked my recipe! :) Too bad it was up to an independent judging panel of mostly food writers. She was extremely complimentary and kind to me and I think that made my whole experience. That combined with the director of the bake-off saying she made my recipe for the 4th of July at a family function and that her grandkids loved my pretzels. She sat with Hylan during the awards ceremony and also expressed how much she hoped we'd be back for the next one. All of the Pillsbury people were so great--even asking me if I was "okay" despite not winning. Yes, I was fine, perhaps a little disappointed, but I had 5 days left to go spend with Mickey at Disney, so I couldn't be too unhappy. I was sad that it was such a short amount of time that we spent with everyone including Pillsbury staff, media, food buyers, hotel staff, the other finalists and their guests.
But that's life. Here are some pictures from the event and from Disney. Thanks to Hylan for taking most of the pictures. They also gave me a disposable camera at my range, so if any of those are any good I may scan and post them later.
If you want to see other pics, go to Valerie Phillip's blog on desnews.com and the pics on Pillsbury's blogs
And here are some Disney pics.