Itasca resident Brian Emmett, 43, is one of 10 amateur bakers who will compete in the new CBS reality series "The American Baking Competition," premiering at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Based on the same format as "The Great British Bake Off," the Stateside version is hosted by comedian Jeff Foxworthy and judged by chef Marcela Valladolid and baker Paul Hollywood, also a judge on the British series.
The 10 bakers were culled from a nationwide search of amateurs at local casting bake-offs. They including a firefighter, photographer, homemaker, attorney, advertiser (that would be Emmett), home health care provider, college student, retiree, project manager and a baking enthusiast trying to go pro.
Each week, the show has the bakers competing in three challenges - "Signature Bake," "Technical Bake" and "Showstopper Bake." The contestant who out-bakes the rest is that week's "Star Baker," while the one whose creations fail to impress gets the boot. The winner gets a lot of dough: $250,000, as well as a publishing contract with Simon & Schuster to publish their own cookbook with Gallery Books.
Foxworthy has dubbed Emmett "the professor," apparently because he gets pensive and studies the instructions the contestants are given during technical bakes while "everyone else is kind of harum-scarum."
Here's the skinny on Emmett (apparently a big fan of exclamation points), courtesy of CBS:
Hometown: Itasca (originally from Glendale Heights)
Occupation: Owner of a marketing/advertising company
Baking Specialties: Breads, pies, cookies, savory baked goods and pastries.
What makes you America's best amateur baker? My repertoire, natural instinct, creativity and I'm not afraid to take risks!
Why do you enjoy baking? I love being creative and seeing the reaction from people when they eat.
What is your signature baking item? Caramel apple-topped cream cheese and mascarpone vanilla bean cheesecake with a walnut shortbread crust. I was having friends over for dinner and it was fall. They were craving caramel apples but I had planned to make a cheesecake, so I combined the two and created this signature item.
Have you had any baking disasters? Yes, I forgot to put sugar in a banana cream pie I was taking to a party!
What is your favorite family baking memory or recipe? When my grandmother came to visit she would always make an apple pie. I would sit in the kitchen with her, talk and watch her slice the apples to build the pie. I think of her every time I make it.
What is the best baking advice anyone has ever given you? Take time in the presentation part of it. It will give it the "wow" factor!
If you were a dessert, what would it be? Anything fun and with layers, maybe a pinch of cayenne in it to match my personality!