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Bake-off is 'whirlwind' for finalist

February 25, 1998|By DON AINES

Bake-off is 'whirlwind' for finalist

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Ironically, it was digestive problems that led Stephanie Ann Fredricksen to the finals of the Pillsbury Quick & Easy Bake-Off Cooking Contest with a dish she named Sweet and Spicy Beans and Rice.

"It's more sweet than spicy," Fredricksen said Tuesday after returning from the contest in Orlando, Fla.

"It was very exciting ... It was a whirlwind," the Martinsburg woman said of her all-expenses-paid trip to Orlando for the contest. Although she didn't win the $1 million grand prize, she said she considered herself a winner, having advanced to the finals of the nationwide contest.

Fredricksen, 30, said she is now able to eat her own creation, which was submitted for the bake-off in August between her second and third operations for ulcerative colitis.

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Her husband, Erik, "was my taste-tester and he liked it from the first. I didn't have to change a thing," she said.

It was during her time in the hospital recovering from surgery that she decided to enter the contest. "I had people bringing me magazines and I had access to the entry forms," she said Tuesday night.

"I'd never even thought of entering before," Stephanie said.

After she submitted her recipe, it was prepared by Pillsbury and determined to be one of the best 100 out of tens of thousands of entries.

Her category was simple side dishes. Other categories were for 30-minute main dishes, fast and easy treats and quick snacks and advertisers. Fredricksen said entries were judged on general appeal to consumers, creativity, presentation and convenience.

They also had to include at least one ingredient from a list of Pillsbury products. Stephanie used three: Old El Paso taco seasoning and green chilies and B&M Baked Beans.

"You can't tell I like spicy food, can you?" she said. Another of her creations is called TNT Chili.

Her whirlwind trip began Saturday with a flight to Orlando, checking in at the Renaissance Resort and attending a reception with the other finalists.

On Sunday it was an orientation trip to Disney World, where they saw an example of the type of mini-kitchen they'd use in the contest "so we'd know what to expect."

On Monday, it was the mother of all bake-offs, with 17 men and 83 women working at 100 mini-kitchens on the floor of a hotel convention center.

Asked if she was nervous during the bake-off, she said, "Surprisingly no."

"You're absorbed with what you're supposed to be doing, rather than being nervous," Stephanie said.

She said the experience was so exciting she wasn't even disappointed when she finished out of the running for the big prizes.

"Her dish looked wonderful," she said of the winning recipe, Salsa Couscous Chicken, submitted by the winner, Ellie Mathews of Seattle, Wash.

Fredricksen said this won't be her last try at the $1 million prize. She said a person can be a finalist a total of three times.

"I can try again and I intend to," she said.

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