Julie McIntire’s love for baking started as a young child, growing up in the kitchen with her stay-at-home mother.
The kitchen designing... well, that came later, after she had earned a degree in interior design.
McIntire’s Independence kitchen is special, with its green cabinetry and a door covered in chalkboard paint with her freehand drawing of the Pillsbury Doughboy.
She had entered several cooking contests in the past, but it was only recently that she became a national finalist, competing for a $1 million prize at the Pillsbury Bake-Off March 25-27 in Orlando, Fla.
While her original recipe for salmon crescent sushi rolls didn’t win the top honor, McIntire did take home the GE Imagination At Work Award, and the announcement took place as part of a special live broadcast of Hallmark Channel’s “The Martha Stewart Show.”
She’ll somehow incorporate her prize – $5,000 worth of brand-new General Electric appliances – into her retro-style kitchen, “but I don’t want to give up my old stove,” McIntire says, laughing. “I like the way it looks.”
McIntire’s 1950s stove came with the house when she bought it, and it still works “so far,” she says.
|1 Where do you get your inspiration for cooking and baking?||
For this recipe, I just eat a ton of avocados and salmon, so I thought it would be good to work with stuff I’m familiar with. I like sushi, so I just decided to do a sushi-style recipe. I like making desserts like cheesecakes and torts and chocolate desserts.
|2 How did you get the idea for the salmon crescent sushi rolls recipe, and what would be a good place or occasion to serve it?||
It makes a good appetizer, and it’s good for when you have friends or family over. Also, since I made so many samples, I would have it for dinner. (Laughs) It’s very easy to eat a lot of them.
|3 What was the biggest lesson you learned from the competition?||
There were just a lot of serious cooks there. I’m just starting to discover how many contests are out there, so I plan on entering more contests. There are tons of cooking contests out there.
|4 What do you think makes a good kitchen design?||
The right balance of storage and counter space and a good work triangle. For me, I’m just really into cheerful things. I think it has to be a reflection of your personal taste, not someone else’s.
|5 Is there another bake-off competition that you have your eye on?||
I just joined a community that has all the contests listed a couple of days ago, and it’s just overwhelming. There are deadlines for contests every day – it’s crazy. I need to focus in on certain ones.