FORSYTH COUNTY — It's not every day that someone has the chance to bake for $1 million, and it's even rarer to get that opportunity twice.
Yet for the second year in a row, Lise Ode of Forsyth County is one of 100 finalists in the annual Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest.
“I'm so excited, and I'm just really honored,” Ode said. “It's not an easy contest to just even get into ... I mean I've heard stories of people trying to get into this contest for 20, 30, even 40 years, just sending recipes every year and not getting in. I'm just super excited to be in it.”
Ode, who plans to draw on last year's experience as she prepares, is excited to see cooks she has met and networked with at the competition.
“Now, that I know what to expect, I'm not as nervous,” she said. “So, I think it's going to be more fun. And I know a lot of people now ... I've made a lot of friends and I'm excited to see them. And, of course, the chance to win a $1 million is a bit exciting.”
Her entry, which is a recipe for gluten-free Lemon-Blueberry Muffins, can be found on Pillsbury's website. Ode said this was the first year the Bake-Off included gluten-free products, and she made the recipe for her mother.
“I just took an old family recipe for blueberry muffins, that my mom used to make when I was little,” Ode said. “I thought I'd convert it to gluten-free for her since she couldn't actually make it anymore.”
The 47th Bake-Off will be held Nov. 3 at the Omni Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. All 100 finalists will be cooking at once.
“I've heard that it's hard for them,” Ode said. “They can only be at certain venues, because they need so much electricity to power those 100 ovens.”
This will be the first year that the public will be able to vote on the winning recipe. All entries fall in to one of four categories, and voters will be able to pick from the final four. Ode's muffins can be found in the “Weekend Breakfast Wows.”
Each contestant has to use at least seven ingredients, and be able to prepare the item in 30 minutes. All ingredients have to come from Pillsbury or other sponsors.
Nashville will be a shorter trip for Ode than last year's contest in Las Vegas. Though Ode has been cooking since she was a child, she was worried last year about the distraction.
“They had lots of bloggers there, and people from different, various products, and corporate people and reporters,” Ode said. “Lots of people going around during the contest and taking pictures. I thought I'd be distracted, but I was fine.”
When she's not entering national baking competitions, the mother of two runs her blog, MomLovesBaking.com. The blog features Ode's baking adventures, mostly sweets and all previous Bake-Of winning recipes in a year. Since some contests had multiple winners, it works out to one a week.
“I thought that I would try making all the of Pillsbury grand prize recipes in one year, because there happen to be 52 as of this year,” Ode said. “I'm making all of the recipes on my blog with photos and step-by-step instructions.”