Imagine giving up a successful law career and running a production company to become a full-time baker. You’d have to be pretty passionate about all things related to butter, flour and eggs to make a change so drastic.
But that’s exactly what Gesine Prado, host of the Saturday Food Network series “Baked in Vermont,” did to pursue what she gradually realized was her first love. And she hasn’t looked back.
“I’ve baked my entire life. There was not a moment that I didn’t bake,” Prado explains. “Like during college, during winter finals, I was making gingerbread houses instead of studying, and instead of studying for the bar, I baked. And I actually passed on the first go and I tried to convince people that baking was the key. … And all those things should have been clues from the very beginning that my calling was, you know, everything other than what I was doing – it was the baking that was my calling.”
In each 30-minute episode of her midday series, Prado walks viewers through the various steps in preparing the recipes that she herself developed, be it a Charlotte Royale chocolate cake with homemade caramels, a chocolate yule log, a turkey pot pie or a hearty pork pie with a big green salad.
All episodes are filmed at her 18th century farmhouse in Hartford, Vt., which is attached to the cooking school she runs, Sugar Glider Kitchen. The sister of actress Sandra Bullock, she’s also an instructor for King Arthur Flour and Stonewall Kitchen, has written four baking cookbooks and a memoir and owned and operated a bakery in Montpelier, Vt.
Her goal is to take the mystery out of baking, debunk the common notion that it’s too complicated for the average home cook to attempt and show them how to be a consistently competent baker.
“We do several versions throughout of pie dough or flaky pastry dough and use it for a myriad number of things because it isn’t just for pies,” Prado says. “And it’s one of those things that people, either they get it or they don’t or they think they don’t. And they’re like, ‘Nah, I just can’t do pie dough. It doesn’t work out.’
“I know exactly why it’s not working out,” she continues. “I will tell you exactly why it’s going wrong for you and give you every bit, every tip and trick and hack that will fix it for you and make it great every time.”
What book are you currently reading?
“I am reading a book by a writer named Attica Locke called ‘Bluebird, Bluebird.’ And I’ve known her personally for years. I discovered her when I was in my other life running an entertainment company reading stuff, and I read her books and scripts and it’s one of the few times that I was like shot out of my job and was just reading for joy.”
What did you have for dinner last night?
“We did a sous-vide wild salmon and … a faro and micro-green salad and a vinaigrette.”
What is your next project?
“I am working on a book on cakes – surprise, surprise. It’s about fantastical cakes using my knowledge as a pastry chef to kind of guide bakers of all knowledge or no knowledge in making fantastic or gorgeous cakes.”
When was your last vacation, where and why?
“It wasn’t a long one but it was for my husband’s 50th birthday in September and we went to Quebec to Manoir Hovey … . It’s on Lake Massawippi – and I just like saying ‘Lake Massawippi’ – and it’s a fantastic food destination. So it’s this old bit of a manse right on the lake and then they do fantastic meals. So we just sat and ate for days. … It was fantastic.”