A couple of weeks ago, I posted about peppermint bark chess pie. I adapted the pie recipe for the 9Chefs Baking Competition, which was aired on WAFB (a local news station). I can’t tell you how many times I made that pie to practice, but it was to the point to where I pretty much didn’t need to look at the recipe for the competition.
I was INCREDIBLY nervous about this competition. The whole week of the competition, I would randomly get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it. Would I drop my pie? Add salt instead of sugar? Look ridiculous on camera? I also had dreams about how it would go….I know it’s ridiculous sounding, but I’ve never done anything like this.
The morning of the competition, I left my house an hour early just to give myself ample time to settle in at the culinary institute (where it was held/taped). Well, typical Friday traffic didn’t happen, because there was a terrible accident on the Interstate, which, despite me leaving an hour early, I was 10 minutes late. I was the last one there…how embarrassing. I seriously thought I was going to get kicked out for being late.
When I arrived, I learned that we were going to be wearing chef jackets. Um…WAY COOL. After that, it was a whirlwind, but I remember we had a few minutes to set up our stations (we were allowed to bring any tools/appliances from home, so I had a bit to unpack haha) before interviews. Then, right after, the competition would start.
The competition allowed us 3 hours to bake two pies. One for tasting and one for presentation. With the pie I wanted to make, I knew I had to get it in the oven within the first hour, to give it ample cooling time. One thing I didn’t expect was that there were culinary students there to help us gather ingredients, and while we were frantically rolling pie dough and making fillings, the students washed our dishes for us. It was so appreciated. I’m sure the students have no idea this blog exists, but if they happen to see this, Thank You. Also, a HUGE thanks to the Louisiana Culinary Institute (LCI) for allowing us to use their kitchen, their ingredients and their equipment. It was very interesting (intimidating at first) to use commercial equipment, but with the help of the students and instructors from LCI, it wasn’t bad at all.
That first hour, I was completely in the zone. The room was actually VERY quiet, and I thought it would be crazy/loud/hectic like you see on Chopped, but every competitor was quietly doing their thing. It was so cool to glance around to see what everyone was making, and to watch how everyone works differently in the kitchen. After the first hour, I relaxed a bit and worked on decorations/whipped cream topping. I also got to really take this whole experience in once the pies were in the oven….that first hour, the room felt so quiet, but after everyone had their pies in, we all would just randomly chat and it became a pretty friendly environment, which I didn’t expect at all. It was a relief, but we were all amateur home bakers…I think we were all pretty nervous about it. Once my pies were out of the oven (about 2 hours in), I concentrated on cleaning my station/packing my tools and letting my pies cool.
After 3 hours, this is the display that I left for the judges. My pies could have cooled a bit more, and man, I was SO nervous slicing the pie that quite a few of them just broke (compared to the blog photo from the recipe post). I was really hoping that the taste would make up for it.
Once the competition was over, we went to a waiting room to allow the judges to taste the pies and did our post-competition interviews. I think that’s when the butterflies really set in. My pies came out great but of course, I had to question if I did enough….
If you’d like to see how the competition went down, here’s the video on YouTube. If you want to skip to the results, just drag the player to about 20 minutes in.
One of the big questions my friends and family have asked me is if I would do this again. In a heartbeat. I really loved it!