August 18, 2014 at 6:55 AM
CALDWELL, NJ – Caldwell resident Kim Van Dunk is a finalist in the 47th annual Pillsbury Bake-Off cooking competition. Home cooks throughout the U.S. submitted their recipes online from Feb. through May and 100 finalists were selected to present their dishes in Nashville, Tenn., this Nov. Finalists will compete for the grand prize of $1 million as well as eight other special awards from the contest’s sponsors, including Jif, Crisco and Reynolds.
This is Van Dunk’s second year in a row advancing to the finals, as she competed last year with her meatball and breadstick sub skewers. This year, Van Dunk will be baking banana chocolate chip streusel muffins.
“I’ve cooked for a very long time and am a self-taught cook,” said Van Dunk. “My kids have a lot of different food allergies, including my son who has a gluten allergy. Over the last few years, I’ve had to change the way I cook to accommodate my family. Pillsbury had new gluten-free products on their list this year that I wanted to try. I wanted to make a recipe that my son could eat.”
The rules for the competition state that no more than seven ingredients may be used in a recipe, but must include at least one Pillsbury product and sponsor product. Also, preparation time must be 30 minutes or less, not including baking or cooling time.
The recipe categories are “simply sweet treats,” “savory snacks and sides,” “weekend breakfast wows,” and “amazing doable dinners.”
According to Van Dunk, the judges will pick one winning recipe per category and then put the recipes on Facebook for the public to vote on. The judge’s scores and votes from the public will be the criteria for selecting the overall winner.
Van Dunk said of last year’s competition, “The bake-off is really unique because they take a ballroom and convert it into miniature kitchens. We have three and a half hours to cook our dish up to three times if we want to. There is media coming around as we cook to interview us. It’s really a lot of fun and a very unique experience.”
“It’s not every day a stay at home mom can compete to win a million dollars,” Van Dunk added.
Information on public voting will be posted on Pillsbury’s website closer to the contest event.
Click here to view the full list of finalists and their dishes.