Chatting with Whitney from CBS' American Baking Competition
If you've been watching the American Baking Competition on CBS, then you know that college grad Whitney Beery was the latest contestant whose desserts just didn't make the cut with judges Paul Hollywood and Marcela Valladolid. Despite the fact that she missed out on the chance to win $250,000 and a book deal, Whitney gained so much more from her experience...she fell in love.
We recently joined Robin from Simply Southern Baking to find out what she's been up to since leaving the show.
Simply Southern Baking: What would you say was your most special moment in the competition?
Whitney: Meeting my boyfriend, James. We realized we like the same music and all the same books and stuff while we were on the show so it kind of started then. Once the show was all said and done we started to hang out, without the competition involved. Meeting everyone on the show was also amazing and being able to get the insight from the judges helped with learning how to handle the pressure. Also, since we're amateur bakers, we normally only hear feedback from our family and friends so they don't critique like the judges, so it was interesting and helpful to hear how professionals see your bakes.
Simply Southern Baking: You studied restaurant management in college. What are your plans now that you've graduated? Are you going to go to graduate school, start a blog?
Whitney: I actually already have a blog. It's called Appletondesserts.com because Appleton is my middle name. It has all my favorite desserts on it. I'm actually now living in Sonoma, California, and I'm working at a winery. I am using my degree, but I'm doing wine because someday I want to do a dessert wine themed bar. So I'm getting my wine education.
Role Mommy: Does James live in Sonoma with you or is it still a long-distance relationship?
Whitney: He is here with me. He's actually in the room with me (laughs). It's official.
Role Mommy: You've obviously impressed all your friends and family with all your different desserts and you made the show, but you had some difficulty in those first few weeks. What was the biggest challenge for you?
Whitney: I think the biggest challenge was having everything so limited. The limited time, the limited resources. At home, you're so used to baking and if it doesn't turn out alright then you do it all over again because you have all these resources and all this time. On the show, it's a lot more pressure than you would think being under that time limit when you're not used to that stuff, using that equipment. A lot of things in baking are temperamental like when my cookies spread too much. When I was making the batter, it looked like every other batter I have made. So at that point, I didn't know that I should add anything, because to me it looked the same, but with all new equipment and all these temperamental factors and then not having time to go back kind of messed me up.
Role Mommy: I tweeted you during the show and I remember that the combination of chai and mocha you were using for the macaroons seemed like it was destined to be at Starbucks. Can you tell us about that particular bake?
Whitney: I did that because it was inspired by my endless studying days in college. There is actually a Starbucks a block away from where I was living. When I first started drinking coffee, mocha was the only thing I had. Of course, I loved the combination of chocolate and coffee together: two of my favorite things. Chai is also one of my absolute favorite drinks because I usually wake up every morning and have coffee or chai, and I usually eat chocolate at some point throughout the day. So it was kind of inspired by my studying days in college and at Starbucks. I never went to the library to study, I was always at Starbucks. So yes, you read my recipe mind!
Role Mommy: I saw your sorority was tweeting during the show. Tell me about that.
Whitney: I'm a sister of Zeta Tau Alpha. I joined when I was a freshman and recruitment was a week before school even started. I went to Texas Tech and I didn't know anyone so I wanted to meet people, and it was a really great place to make friends. Throughout the whole show, the sorority has been super supportive and great, retweeting and promoting the show. I've gotten a lot of tweets from Zetas from across the country. The entire organization has been amazing and extremely supportive throughout it all which doesn't surprise me because I know Zetas are wonderful women. It's cool to get connections through the whole country because of the show.
Role Mommy: When you were in college, did you study anything in terms of culinary and pastries, or was baking just more of something you loved as a passion?
Whitney: I just loved it as my passion. For hotel restaurant management, we did have some food courses, but we didn't really dive into practicing any of it, it was kind of more book studying so that as a restaurant manager you would understand something such as what the different types of sauces are but you didn't really dive into making anything. But one of those classes got me interested in it because I was reading so much about pastries and I watched Food Network and followed everything on Pinterest, so that all furthered my interest and made me really want to do this on my own. An oreo cheesecake was the first thing I made from scratch and it was really good, and I was like "I'm not that bad so I'm going to keep doing this."
Role Mommy: When we interviewed Marcela, we asked her if she saw herself in any of the bakers and she said you reminded her of herself when she was first starting out, where she had this natural talent for it and needed to cultivate it and get more training , and she said she appreciated your spunk and the creativity in what you were doing. How do you feel about that? Do you think the experience on the show is going to propel you to do what you should be doing in life?
Whitney: I think it will definitely help. It definitely gave me real insight on to how professional pastry chefs see your actual products, which is very different from how your friends see it. The experience definitely helped me and will continue to help me in the future and propel me to do what I want. Obviously I will not stop baking. I made cupcakes last night.
Role Mommy: In terms of recipes, are you making them up or adapting them from the Food Network or things that you see?
Whitney: I do a lot of research online and I kind of find recipes and I change them. For example, I looked up a biscuit recipe and I used sour cream and added herbs and spices so that they tasted how I like them to taste. So I do get ideas from recipes from cookbooks or online so that I have the basic science, and then I change whatever it needs to manipulate the flavors or textures.
Role Mommy: In terms of the characters on the show, we're starting to see people's personalities develop. Brian seems to be a sinister bad guy, and Francine has the best one liners and is hilarious, and Effie seems awesome. Is there anyone besides James that you became really friendly with and continue to talk to after the show?
Whitney: Pretty much everyone is always in touch but I've gotten super close to Effie. She was like my mama for the month and I love her. Carlo and I also got really close while we were there. James, Effie, and Carlo are the three people that I keep in constant contact with. James was texting Effie this morning and I called Carlo a couple of days ago and we talked for a little bit so that was nice.
Role Mommy: What did you think about being critiqued by Marcela and Paul?
Whitney: It was hard being critiqued by them because they were looking for something other than what you like. They're looking for what they like. It was really difficult, because for my chai macaroons, they didn't come out like macaroons but they were also critiquing the flavor. It was like "well that's how I like my chai to taste" and they told me it didn't work but that's how I wanted it to be like. So it's kind of difficult because at the same point you want to bake something that you and your family likes but that might not necessarily be what the judges are looking for. So it's really difficult to kind of gauge where you fall, and you kind of have to learn what they're looking for and tweak what you like to fit what they want. It's super difficult because you practice this recipe over and over and you don't like the taste of it but you know what the judges are going to say, so it's kind of a weird situation to make something for the judges palette. Normally your friends and your family see it as a different way.
Role Mommy: What did you think of Jeff Foxworthy?
Whitney: Jeff was great. He was really funny and he was really nice. Some of my favorite times was when he would come over personally to talk to each of us because once he came over there was no pressure. He doesn't care how bad you are, if you're having a bad time he's going to try and give you some encouraging words. If you're doing well he would give you a smile back. He was really encouraging, super super nice, and throughout the whole process he was great.
Role Mommy: Are you still going to be watching throughout the show and tweeting?
Whitney: Yes, I'm still going to be watching! I have to root for my man! I also do want to watch because we all have heard tidbits of how everyone has done, so now I want to watch how it all unfolds because I never got to see that stuff. I heard them talking about it so I really want to see all of it and see how everyone does because there are some surprises for me too!
Make sure you tune into the American Baking Competition on CBS this Wednesday at 8pm ET/PT. As always, we'll be live tweeting during the show. To join in the fun, follow the handles and hashtags below! Hope to tweet you there!