America's Top Amateur Baker Brian Emmett
Among all the accomplished chefs at the Las Vegas Chocolate Festival, there is one esteemed guest appearing who isn't actually a chef at all. His name is Brian Emmett, and he has a more singular claim to fame: America's Top Amateur Baker.
Emmett won the title by topping the CBS reality show The American Baking Competition last Summer, an experience he likely wouldn't trade for anything--but wouldn't want to do over, either. "It was the hardest thing I've ever done," Emmett tells us, recalling the Big Brother-like conditions of the competition, compounded by the fact that he took a spill early on and was on crutches the entire time. "It was like the Survivor of baking. I lost ten pounds. But I baked my butt off, and won!"
Brian's love of pastry goes back about as far as he can remember, spending a good deal of his childhood in the kitchen with his grandmother. The first baking competition he won was actually in first grade! "We had to make some kind of Thanksgiving, Pilgrims and Indians-inspired dessert," he recalls. That gave him a taste of success, but though his passion continued, Emmett never went pro. "I went down a different path," he explains, running an advertising agency and a small event company.
Nevertheless, following his dream, he tried out for a number of television cooking competitions (Emmett is no stranger to the savory side either), but never made the cut until TABC. Now, he's creating a cook book for Simon & Schuster--part of his prize package--that will reflect all of his passions, from cheesecakes to pizza and souffles. Pretzels, biscuits, tarts... there's almost nothing involving flour and heat that Emmett hasn't mastered.
Still, says Brian, "I would still consider myself an amateur." Which means, don't expect a line of baking tools... but do expect to be seeing more of him, on the small screen, and in person at the Las Vegas Chocolate Festival!
Words: E.C. Gladstone
Photos Courtesy Brian Emmett
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