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Hello everyone! Happy Saturday! This weekend I am blissfully NOT traveling. I know that complaining about a lot of travel seems like a major #firstworldproblem but between a wedding in Seattle, a funeral, and my trip last weekend I haven’t been home much, and neither has my husband. It’ll be nice to be home all weekend and just do family things. I’m actually starting my Christmas shopping! (I know, right?)

But before I do all that, I want to share my weekend in Nashville with you. I got to go to the Pillsbury Bake-Off, which is a huge dream come true for me.

(No, I wasn’t competing. Just covering it as media. I got a press pass and everything!)

Me and the Doughboy

Me and the Doughboy. I mean, I don’t know about you, but that photo gives me about as much street cred as this one. 😉

The Pillsbury Bake-Off used to happen every other year, but now they do it every year instead. Amateur cooks and bakers from all over the country can submit their recipes (anyone can submit, unless you’re a food professional). The test kitchens narrow the playing field down to 100 contestants who get to attend the bake-off and cook their recipe for a panel of judges. The grand prize is $1 million dollars.

The stakes are high, obviously.

This year the bake-off took place in the Music City, Nashville. I was thrilled to be invited to cover the event (if you follow me on instagram you might have noticed I was there). I’d never been to Nashville and was very excited to see it, as well as some of the other bloggers attending.

Nashville Colors

Nashville is a gorgeous city and it’s pretty accurate that they call it “Music City.” We stayed right downtown, at the Omni Hotel, which is in the heart of the Music City Center and is attached to the CMA museum and hall. (If you ever have a chance to stay there, do it. Their beds were more comfy than mine is at home!)

Of course, what is a food blogger to do when she goes to a new city? Eat her way through, of course.

Photo Nov 02, 12 27 15 PM

I devoured a plate sized praline at Savannah’s Candy Kitchen. I inhaled Salted Caramel and Brown Butter Almond Brittle ice cream at Jenni’s Splendid Ice Creams, and I had the best duck of my life at the Silly Goose.

And then we went to Hatti B’s for Nashville Hot Chicken.

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Someone said it was Life Changing Chicken, and it was. You guys, I don’t even like fried chicken, not one little bit. This? Was the best chicken I’ve ever had. And I tried greens for the first time. And I had Bacon Cheddar Grits.


Photo Nov 02, 8 43 59 AM

Some of the Life Changing Chicken Eaters: Carrie, Lori, Gerry, Shawn, Jocelyn, and Jocelyn.

Also when in Nashville? You get cowboy boots.

Photo Nov 02, 7 36 46 PM (1)

Mine have teal on them. #ofcoursetheydo

Before the bake-off started, we media did a competition with GE to play with their Advantium Oven. They gave us recipes to make and then a past bake-off winner chose the best dessert. My group won!

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{That’s Carrie and I and our groups’ winning dish: Cranberry Apple Crumble, which we added pecans and chocolate to. There were a handful of people in our group, including Hunter from Sugar Loco and Dave Joachim, which made me starstruck.}

We also got a peek at the contest floor the evening before, when it was quiet.

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100 kitchens are created for the big day. The ovens are created especially for the bake-off, and the hotel usually has to buy extra power from the city to run them all. It’s all very precise and exact, so the contest is fair.

Nashville Sunrise

The morning of the bake-off dawned early. This is the sunrise view from my hotel room. I saw the sunrise too many times last weekend!

Me and my BFF JocelynB

My BFF Jocelyn from Inside BruCrew Life. She is the sweetest!!

And then it was time for the start of the contest!

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I’ve gotta say, I almost cried when the parade of contestants started. I’ve known about the bake-off as long as I can remember. Every year I’d buy those little circular cookbooks at the grocery store, and I’d watch the competition on Food Network when they used to show it. Being able to be there, on the floor of the contest was so emotional for me. Doing what I love to do has opened so many doors for me that I never new existed. 10 years ago when I watched the contest on TV and thought, wow, it would be cool to see that, I had no idea that one day I actually would.

Dreams do come true, my friends. #notjustinfairytales

The contest lasted just over 3 hours. The bakers can make their recipe up to three times, then they present their favorite to a panel of judges. When the finish their recipe everyone cheers for them as they walk to turn it in. This is a serious contest – cameras and media everywhere and security too. It was kind of insane!

Chocolate Chocolate and More is the best

I was so excited to finally meet my friend Joan from Chocolate, Chocolate, and More in person. She is one of the sweetest people! And she loves chocolate, which makes me love her even more. 🙂

I heart Grandbaby Cakes

And this lady. Oh my gosh, Jocelyn from Grandbaby Cakes. I love her so much! If only I could live in Chicago and be a true stalker, I’d be happy.

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Carla Hall was the host of the event. I didn’t get to meet her personally but she is just as vivacious and bubbly in person as she is on TV. And she’s taller, if that’s even possible. I fell in love with Carla on Top Chef and she’s now on The Chew each day, which is where the bake-off winner will be crowned in December.

Okay, now to the important part of this post: the winners!!

Here’s how the contest works: 100 people compete on the floor. A few win sponsor prizes, and 4 people win top in their category.

The 4 categories are: Weekend Breakfast Wows, Simply Sweet Treats, Savory Snacks & Sides, and Amazing Doable Dinners. The 4 winners win a cash prize, some GE appliances, and total bragging rights.


Normally the judges pick the $1 million prize winner that day. But this year is different…


That’s right! This year the judges scores will be combined with the public’s online vote and the winner will be announced on The Chew on December 3.

Want to know what you should vote for? Here are the contenders:

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Peanutty Pie Crust Clusters: Pie crust is baked and mixed with peanuts, toffee bits, and peanut butter white chocolate, then dropped by spoonfuls for a delicious twist on an old candy favorite.

Chocolate Doughnut Poppers: Crescent Rolls are filled with hazelnut spread, then rolled and baked and topped with a powdered sugar glaze.

Creamy Corn-Filled Sweet Peppers: Cream cheese and corn are stuffed inside mini peppers and wrapped with Crescent Rolls, then baked.

Cuban-Style Sandwich Pockets: Pork, ham, cheese, and mustard are baked inside Crescent Rolls for a new twist on a favorite cuban sandwich.

(I bet you can’t guess which one I voted for. HAHAHAHA.)

You can get all these recipes as well as watch videos about them on the voting page. Go vote for your favorite!

Some of my friends got to go to Nashville too. Here are their stories:

I Wash You Dry
Grandbaby Cakes
The Baker Mama
Foodness Gracious
Kirbie’s Cravings

Oh, and if you need some sugar? How about these…

Classic (EASY!) Pecan Pie

Classic Pecan Pie (4 of 11)w

Turtle Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Mini Turtle Pumpkin Cheesecakes (1 of 7)w

Caramel Peanut Butter Cups

Carmel Peanut Butter Cups (1 of 9)w

Pumpkin S’mores Dip

Pumpkin S'more Dip (4 of 8)

Brownie Bites

Best Brownie Bites (6 of 10)

 Pillsbury paid for me to go to the Bake-Off, but I was not sponsored for the event or this post. When someone asks you to go to the Bake-Off you say yes!!

Last Updated on August 18, 2022

Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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  1. The photo of you with the Pillsbury Doughboy is priceless! The whole event sounds like a ton of fun. I have been to the Silly Goose and loved the food as well.

  2. Dude, I am SO insanely jelly of your adventures in Nashville! That Hattie’s chicken looked OFF THE CHAIN. I’m so glad you liked it because I was pretty much licking my iPhone screen in hopes for a vicarious taste.