ST. ALBANS – Watching a local baker compete on the national stage this month might make you pull out the holiday rolling pin and sprinkles earlier than usual.
Last night Adam Monette, a culinary arts teacher at Northwest Career and Technical Center (NWTC) in St. Albans, made his debut on the last season of Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship.
During the two-hour episode, the 12 bakers in the cast were tasked with preheating making seasonal donuts. Monette won the segment with her pumpkin butter filling and sugar dusting, which gave her an edge in the main heat.
At the end of the episode, he went through double elimination and will reappear at 8 p.m. on November 8. The last baker standing after eight weeks wins $ 25,000.
“If you love to cook, this is a dream come true,” Monette told the Messenger. “You have an unlimited pantry, so as long as you stick to the guidelines you can do whatever you want, and it’s so much fun. “
Nominated by a former student, Monette went through an extensive interview process and a pastry essay before being selected to join other applicants from across the country.
“The people I had the chance to meet were really interesting and talented,” he said. “I’m still in touch with almost the entire cast.”
Monette is no stranger to competition. In 2017, he represented the United States at the Passion Trophy, a biannual challenge organized by the Académie Culinaire de France at the Élysée Palace in Paris.
Originally from St. Johnsbury, Monette grew up in a French Canadian family that put food at the center of every gathering.
“There were always a lot of mouths to feed,” he says. “The food was humble, but still very, very good.
After earning an associate’s degree in baking and pastry making, Monette attended the New England Culinary Institute, which is now closed. He worked in restaurants across the state before taking the cook position at NWTC in 2011.
Although Monette couldn’t give many details about the show, he told the Messenger on the origins of his culinary interest and how he shares these traditions with his own family.
Q: How have your NWTC students reacted to your newfound fame?
A: I was a bit surprised by the response and the number of people watching the show.
I have a student in my class, who if he said two words to me for the whole semester, I would be surprised, but when he found out about it, he just opened up. He said: ‘My family and I watch this every public holiday. We love the show. He asked me all these questions.
It’s one of those shows that touches a lot of families, and I think that’s what’s really cool and special. It’s very community-based. Everyone gets together and they watch it, they share something and you know, it’s a real positive experience.
Q: Do you plan to watch the season with your own family?
A: My family is very excited to be on it and very excited to watch. I’m a little apprehensive. I really have no interest in watching myself on TV.
I had a great time, a great experience, but I don’t want to watch videos of our wedding let alone something like that.
If I end up sitting down and watching it will be a chance to see what other talented people did because most of the time I was so wrapped up in what I was doing.
Q: Where did your initial interest in baking come from?
A: My mom’s family definitely instilled a love for food in me.
My mother is an excellent cook and baker, as are my aunt and grandmother. My mom never let us cook at home because she knew we would make a mess. And she was right, and we would never clean it up. So the only way was to cook for our grandparents and our cousins.
Holidays were always about family and food. During the holidays, my grandmother made Tourtière, a Canadian meat pie. We would have date bars, apple pie too. It was always very, very good, and there were always a lot of mouths to feed.
Q: How do you pass these culinary traditions on to your daughters?
A: My oldest is six and my youngest is four, and they both love to help me in the kitchen, but are incredibly different. When I take out the onions, one wants to be in another house, and the other lets his eyes sink and that’s okay.
If I take home a pastry or something I made from school, they’re my best and my worst critic. My daughter Olivia, she’s cute, but she ground me and put me in my place for sure. It is very humiliating.