St. Albans Culinary Instructor Wins Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship | Food News | Seven days

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  • Courtesy of the Food Network
  • Adam Monet

Earlier this fall, on the second episode of Food Network’s “Holiday Baking Championship,” two contestants were discussing fellow contestant Adam Monette, a chef-instructor in culinary arts at the Northwest Career & Technical Center in St. Albans. “Our biggest competitor is definitely Adam,” the two agreed.

Turns out they were there. Last night, in the show’s eighth season finale, Monette reigned supreme among the finalist trio, against 12 original contestants, and won the championship prize of $25,000.

Monette, 35, had been sworn to secrecy about the show’s result since competing in front of cameras in Knoxville, Tennessee, in July. The eight-episode show was filmed over an intense two-and-a-half weeks, he said in a 7am phone interview this morning before heading to school for a final spurt of cooking ahead of the holidays with his students.

His last two challenges were deemed near perfect by the judges. A dessert “charcuterie” platter included fleur de sel meringue shortbread cookies, almond horns, and caramel-nut shortbread bars with cranberry chutney, passion fruit curd, and creamy dips. cherry and sage jam.

On the show, Monette noted that he learned the almond horn recipe from the “chef who inspired me to get into this business”. It was Ralf Labelle, chef and co-owner of the now closed Edelweiss Bakery in Johnson, where Monette worked for four years as a teenager, he said in the phone call.

For the ultimate challenge, a holiday-themed lighthouse cake, Monette had to bring a gift-wrapping party to edible life. Her effort stacked three artfully decorated, fondant-coated Devil’s Peanut Butter Cakes, crowned with a ribbon of gum paste and edible waffle tissue paper.

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Adam Monette's Latest Baking Challenge - COURTESY OF FOOD NETWORK

  • Courtesy of the Food Network
  • Adam Monette’s latest baking challenge

After all the hours spent whipping, whipping, icing and decorating cakes, pies and other confections, the celebration was remarkably brief. On camera, Monette said, “I’ve never won anything in my life” – and the show was over.

Off-camera, there wasn’t much more, Monette said. The contestants said goodbye and briefly chatted with the judges. “I went upstairs and signed some papers. They took me back to the hotel. That was it. I was on a plane to Vermont,” Monette said with a laugh. “It was just like, ‘Here’s your hat.'”

Monette watched the latest episode Monday night with her family and friends at the St. Albans Hard’ack Recreation Area pavilion. He said he had nothing major planned for his prize money other than to share some with his family. “I just want to give back to my parents, to everyone who helped me get here,” he said.

“I’ve been sitting on this secret for a while,” Monette said, noting that he was only allowed to tell his wife. At the technical center, his students keep begging him to disclose the result. “Like, ‘Wink me if you won,'” he said with a laugh. “I’m sure they will be very excited.”

He also gave credit to his secret weapon: vanilla beans. At the start of each cooking challenge, contestants would literally run to the pantry of ingredients. “It wasn’t for the theatrics,” Monette said. “It was purely based on the need to get ingredients.”

Monette went straight for vanilla every time, he said. No matter what flavors he was working with, “everything I made had large amounts of vanilla beans in it,” he said. “It was always something I knew I had to have because it’s a flavor magnifying glass. It’s like baking salt.”

Tuesday morning, Monette went back to cooking with her students. On deck for the next two days, a version of a Paris-Brest with lemon cream, salted caramel and creamy vanilla and brandy he made on the show; several dozen tourtières, the favorite pastries of Monette’s family; and 40 dozen rolls.

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Monette did not watch the show with his students, he said, although many followed home and came to class with questions about the recipes they saw on the show. He said he has received many supportive emails from former students and parents of current students.

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Culinary arts students cheering on their instructor - COURTESY OF NORTHWEST CAREER & TECHNICAL CENTER

  • Courtesy of Northwest Career & Technical Center
  • Culinary arts students encourage their teacher

The head instructor hopes the students will see, “If I can do it, they can do it… It’s just a matter of seizing the opportunity.”

Monette added that he and his students could watch the final together this week, “If we have time and orders are complete.”

Chef Monette will teach baking classes to the general public through the Vermont Adult Career & Technical Education Association at the Northwest Career & Technical Center in St. Albans in 2022. He also plans to do demonstrations at Smuggler’s Notch.

About Tracy G. Larimore

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