Two Maryland cooks are among the 100 finalists who will compete for $136,000 in cash awards in the 35th Pillsbury BAKE-OFF Cooking and Baking Contest to be held Feb. 22-25 in Orlando, Fla.
Local winners include George Shepherd of Brookeville and Joan Wittan of North Potomac. But Pillsbury won't allow them to say what their winning recipes are. To protect the integrity of the contest judging, Pillsbury requires that the recipes and recipe names be kept confidential until the contest date. Each of the 100 finalists has already received $100 from Pillsbury ($200 if they have qualified for the early entry bonus) and a $30 gift certificate from Sears, the contest co-sponsor.
This year's entries represent a far greater ethnic diversity than any past competition, according to Pillsbury spokeswoman Marlene Johnson. And down-home cooking was another common theme.
Top prize winners will be announced on Feb. 25 during a nationally televised awards program featuring Willard Scott, "Today" show weatherman.
Cooking on a budget
If something appears too good to be true, it probably is.
Last week we told you about Bunny Dwin's "Cooking for the '90s," a four-part series to illustrate how to cook good food on a budget. The way we wrote it, sounded like the whole series was $35. Alas, the cost is $35 per class or $125 if you subscribe to all four.
The first class begins at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 20 at Bunny Dwin's Commissary in Fells Point. The other classes will be held on consecutive Mondays -- Jan. 27, Feb. 3 and Feb. 10. Classes are limited and registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. To request a registration form, call (410) 276-4333.
Want to give your life a pick-me-up without spending a fortune on an exotic weekend jaunt?
The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City is offering a series of "Gourmet Get-Away Weekends," featuring a cooking class taught by Chef Gerard Pangaud, one of only three two-star Michelin chefs working in the United States.
Chef Pangaud has been heralded by Esquire food critic John Mariani as producing "French food the way it is in France."
The weekend package includes: deluxe overnight accommodations, a special food presentation upon arrival, cooking class and demonstration, wine seminar/tasting and luncheon and a multicourse gourmet dinner with wine.
The one-night rate is $222.50 per person double occupancy or $262.50 per person for a two-night stay. Those who do not require room accommodations can register for the cooking class, wine seminar and luncheon and multi-course gourmet dinner with wine for $162.50 per person. Or you can select only the cooking class, wine seminar/tasting and luncheon for $50 per person.
The weekends are Jan. 25, Feb. 22, March 21, April 25, May 16 and June 13. To register, contact the Ritz-Carlton at (703) 415-5000.