Baton Rouge native, Vallery Lomas won The Great American Baking Show, but her win was short lived when the show was pulled before her shining moment aired. In the aftermath, Lomas has taken this opportunity to not only start conversations about the social issues surrounding the incident, but also to take huge leaps and make her win worthwhile. As an active blogger and Instagramer, Lomas has kept an online diary of her experiences; with much more to come you can follow her @FoodieinNewYork to keep up.
When did you discover your love for baking, and what made you want to take that love to the Great American Baking Show?
I think I’ve always loved baking, but I started to bake pretty seriously during my third year of law school. I started a blog earlier that year, the precursor for my current blog, “FoodieInNewYork,” and baking every day was the perfect distraction for the recession that I was graduating into, as well as a way to develop new content for my blog.
How did your Baton Rouge roots influence the bakes you created for the show?
My Baton Rouge roots have a major influence not just on what I bake, but on me as a person. I’m always drawn to the fresh produce that is so familiar to my upbringing in south Louisiana—fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and citrus fruit. I thought doing a King Cake on a holiday show could have been a bit of a stretch—but it was perfect. Especially since I made its filling from fresh blackberries. That was one dish that definitely reminded me of home!
Seeing that you currently live in New York, what southern foods do you miss the most?
I definitely miss Louisiana seafood. It’s just impossible to find anything that compares! Whenever I go home to Louisiana, I always manage to bring suitcase full of food back–whether it’s Louisiana pecans or an insanely large number of grapefruit from my grandmother’s tree outside of her home in Prairieville. I’m always looking for ways to incorporate fresh Louisiana produce into my baking.
What were you looking forward to going into filming? After experiencing the filming of a reality baking show, was your experience what you thought it would be?
I really didn’t have much time to think going into filming. I was in such a zone of tunnel vision. I just wanted to practice and do my best. It was definitely a much more stressful experience than I could have ever imagined. Before the cameras started rolling, I thought the surprise technical bakes would actually be fun. But once I realized how stiff the competition was, my focus was on baking my best.
How did you feel when you found out you won?
When Ayesha made the announcement, I don’t think any of us were that surprised just given how the final episode went. I really came through for the finale and baked my best. It meant a lot to know that my best was enough to win.
What were some of the emotions and thoughts you had when you were told the show was being pulled?
It was hard to fathom that I invested so much into this process, actually won, and would not get to share that journey with anyone.
How has your life changed since the outcome of the show?
I’ve definitely got a few more opportunities in the works. I’m working on a cookbook, and also a few more television opportunities, so stay tuned! I’ll be posting updates on my blog and Instagram account.
What would you like to see come from your win that was stripped away?
At this point, I’ll take a W where I can. Initially, I had this idea of what was going to happen, and then what should happen because, ya know, fairness, right? And I wasn’t to blame. I wasn’t the one accused of sexually harassing people at work. But I have come to realize that I’ll be the catalyst for anything that comes from this. (And a few amazing women in media who have selflessly helped out as well.)
How does it feel to bake again after the show?
Baking after the show actually feels freeing. It’s OK if something isn’t just perfect. There are no judges to critique everything I bake. I have embraced that element of baking—the “even though it’s not perfect it’s still beautiful and tastes amazing” element of baking.
Moving forward from this experience, what’s next for you?
I’m still baking, blogging and writing. The only difference is that I’m saving some of my best recipes for the cookbook I’m writing. And I’ve also had some interesting discussions with a television network (fingers crossed!)
Is there a recipe that you call your “signature bake”? Would you share that with our readers?
Yes! Bourbon pecan pie. Everyone asks for it every time I’m hone in Louisiana. The recipe is on my blog, www.foodieinnewyork.com.
Photos courtesy of ABC/Vallery Lomas