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Carol Stream

Local father takes title in ‘American Baking Competition’

ITASCA – Itasca resident and father Brian Emmett won the CBS reality show “The American Baking Competition” on July 10.

From Feb. 28 to March 27, 10 amateur bakers from across the country presented their confections to judges Marcela Valladolid and Paul Hollywood in North Georgia.

“You’re used to cooking for your family and friends,” Emmett said. “Now, you’re baking for well-renowned judges.”

In the end, Emmett was announced the winner and received a $250,000 prize and a contract to publish his own cookbook.

During the finale, Emmett and his fellow contestants, Mount Prospect native Darlene Pawlukowsky and Francine Bryson, of Pickens, S.C., were required to use Georgia’s state crop, the peanut, to concoct a signature creation.

Next, they had to whip up a dozen Boston Cream donuts.

The final challenge was to make 72 mini-desserts inspired by the American flag.

Emmett said the most difficult part of the competition was the technical bakes, where contestants were given a recipe and a technique to perform. With little instruction and the cameras pointed his way, he and his fellow contestants were felt the heat. Emmett’s favorite part of the experience was meeting and becoming friends with all of the contestants.

But reality TV is not all fun and games. During the first day at a photo shoot, Emmett slipped on a bridge and tore a ligament in his leg, forcing him to do the show on crutches.

Emmett learned to bake from his mother and grandmother. His first baking contest was a Thanksgiving cake competition, which he won, establishing his passion for the craft.

“I wanted to prove it to myself,” Emmett said. “I’m hoping to start a baking career.”

Now that he has come out on top, his family asks him to bake more often. His daughters are surprised when he goes a day without creating something tasty.

Emmett’s cookbook will be released in bookstores in several months. It will feature recipes he used on the show, as well as some new ones and old favorites.

“I have a great passion for cooking,” he said. “This just goes to show, don’t give up, because you can achieve your goals as long as you believe.”

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