Memoirs of a Pillsbury Bake-Off Junkie
Steve Grieger’s writing background includes a B.A. in English and Drama from San Diego State University. He has had several short plays produced in the San Diego area, taught classes in creative writing at the O’Farrel School of Creative and Performing Arts, and has co-authored nine screenplays. Steve currently works as an administrator for the Home of Guiding Hands in El Cajon, California, where he supervises three community group homes for people with developmental disabilities.
His affiliation with the Pillsbury Bake-Off® includes full knowledge and participation as a finalist in three separate competitions. His recipes have been published in Pillsbury's Best of the Bake-Off Cookbook, The San Diego Union-Tribune and North County Times. He has been profiled in the Bravo TV documentary The Million Dollar Recipe, and has been featured in live radio and television interviews, including FOX News, CBS, and NBC's The Today Show.
He has also been eating successfully since the day he was born.
The following is an excerpt from Steve Grieger’s interview with Culinary Scene:
Q. Why did you first become interested in cooking?
A. Because I like to eat! I became interested in cooking probably as far back as age nine. I’ve always had a curiosity to learn how to cook the things I like so I could have them anytime.
Q. What’s the first dish you made by yourself?
A. Baked Alaska when I was twelve. I thought it was the most exotic thing in the world at the time. The first time I made it, it sprung a leak and made a complete mess of the oven. But, damn, it was good!
Q. When did you become a foodie?
A. I think I was born a foodie. I remember some of those meals in the school cafeteria as the best I ever had. They made the best hamburgers, spaghetti, grilled cheese sandwiches. Great kid food. But my interest really took off in college when I discovered all kinds of flavors that I’d never had as a child.
Q. Was your mother a good cook?
A. She was, but she lost her passion for it early on. I think she resented cooking for my father. (Laughs.) We grew up eating a lot of frozen and canned foods, things from boxes, spaghetti, and lots of baked chicken.
Q. What’s your favorite thing to cook?
A. I’ll try anything. I try to make a new recipe once a week. Doesn’t always happen, though.
Q. I understand you like to make special multi-course dinners?
A. Oh, yeah! Once a year as my Christmas gift, I make a five- to seven-course tasting menu for my friends. I do a wine pairing with each course, the whole deal. It came out of my chef training.
Q. About the Pillsbury Bake-Off, you were a contestant three times, correct?
A. Yes. There’s a three time limit, so I’m done.
Q. What were the differences between the three Bake-Offs?
A. For me it was basically the same contest three times, but with different faces, different challenges, different prizes and different emotions. I have a ton of stories from each contest. Who knows, if this book is successful, maybe I’ll write a sequel. Or a trilogy!
Q. Why did you choose to self-publish Baked-Off?
A. I didn’t choose to self-publish, it chose me. Funny thing is, I did everything “correctly.” I tried to publish it the traditional way. I wrote a book, found an agent, together we shaped it into something marketable and entertaining, then she shopped it around to all the big publishing houses. They all said, “we like your writing style, your voice, whatever, but basically you have no platform. Thank you, come again.” (Laughs.) So instead of throwing it in a drawer, I chose to Publish on Demand.
Q. It sounds similar to what a lot of filmmakers are doing these days.
A. Exactly! My book is an independent movie! (Laughs.) I just really wanted to share my love of food with other foodies. I wanted to take you onto the Bake-Off floor and into the crazy mindset of four days of pure adrenaline. I think something as huge as the Pillsbury Bake-Off deserves it. I’d love to see more foodies write about their experiences. You write it, I’ll buy it!