Many of us, sheltering inside, are discovering the joys of baking. That makes Bakeaway Camp with Martha Stewart the perfect Food Network show to watch now. Emmy Award-winning television personality, acclaimed cookbook author and trusted lifestyle expert Martha Stewart helps guide six talented amateur bakers in the new primetime series, one who lives in Washington, D.C. Catherine Foley, a former member of the FBI and current Resilience Consultant for Deloitte, is self-taught. She discovered her love of baking while living in Scotland. She is now known for her custom desserts. The program, set to premiere on May 11, will have Catherine competing with five other contestants for the chance to win a kitchen filled with appliances worth $25,000.
Catherine took time to answer our questions about appearing on the program.
Can you remember the first thing you ever baked?
I do not have an exact memory of the first thing I ever baked but do have memories of being in the kitchen with my mom as a child. Food was (and is!) always at the center of our family gatherings, particularly for big holidays. For Easter, it’s family tradition that we bake traditional saffron-infused Easter breads every year. The recipe has been passed down from generation to generation and my earliest baking memories are of baking those with my mom.
You have not had any formal training as a baker. But what sources – cookbooks, expert advice, baking shows – have helped you perfect your skills?
I am far from a perfect baker, but my biggest tip for improving is to just get in the kitchen and try things out! I learned a lot from watching Julia Child and Jacques Pepin on PBS as a little kid and I’ve been watching Food Network for as long as I can remember (Ina Garten is my idol!). I’ve picked up lots of tips from the shows I’ve watched, but the best learning has come from just going for it and seeing what happens. My recommendation for anyone looking to learn how to bake is to start with an easy recipe like chocolate chip cookies and build up from there. Bon Appetit’s videos on YouTube are really resources for approachable recipes!
You developed a love for baking while you lived in Scotland. Were there local bakers who inspired you? What baked goods from Scotland do you enjoy making?
The 5 years I spent living in Scotland were some of the most inspiring years of my life. There’s something about the simplicity of the bakes in the UK that I love, and if the popularity of the Great British Baking Show is any proof, everyone in America loves them too. My years in Scotland were the first time I had lived on my own, so I had plenty of time to explore my love of baking. I joined a baking club in Edinburgh called Edinburgh Bakers where I met lots of other great bakers and refined my skills, particularly baking celebration cakes. I had many baking flops during this time, but I was encouraged by my fellow bakers to keep trying and improving, which I did! There are lots of Scottish baked goods that I love, but if I had to pick one, it’d be a good scone. You can’t beat a well-made scone, slathered with clotted cream and jam washed down with a cup of tea.
Why did you want to be a contestant on this show?
I have been baking my whole life and knew I was fairly good at it, but I thought it would be fun to put my skills to the test! Plus, I was excited to meet other home bakers from across America. I think we all have different perspectives and there’s so much we can learn from one another.
Had you ever used one of Martha Stewart’s cookbooks?
I have! I have used many of Martha’s recipes, but I particularly like her most recent book Cookie Perfection. It is an amazing book covering all types of cookies for any occasion, which I love. Cookies are such a fun thing to bake because if you ruin them, you aren’t wasting a ton of ingredients. You can always try again!
What were your first impressions upon meeting Martha Stewart?
When I first met Martha I was very nervous, but she immediately put my nerves at ease. She was very kind and just wanted to see us succeed and have fun. People may think she’s intimidating, but I found her to be lovely! She’s a strong, smart and successful business woman who knows her way around a kitchen; exactly the kind of woman I aspire to be!
Did you find the first episode overwhelming?
I wouldn’t say that the first episode was overwhelming, but it certainly kept me on my toes! Of course, I was insanely nervous before we started, but once the clock starts ticking and you’re knee deep in the challenge, all the butterflies go away. I work well under pressure, so I just tried to focus on the task at hand and take things one step at a time. Baking in a new kitchen with ovens and work stations I’ve never seen before was challenging, but I had great bakers next to me and we all just tried our best to have fun and enjoy the experience.
What have you taken away from your experience on the show?
This show has taught me so much about my ability to overcome obstacles and helped me to remember how strong and resilient I am as a person. I faced all sorts of challenges on the show, including insane weather and swarms of yellowjackets, but I continued to try my best, be myself and always remember to enjoy the experience. After all, my goal was to try my best and enjoy the crazy experience and I absolutely did! Not many people can say that Martha Stewart ate their baked goods; it’s a real pinch-me moment.
Photo courtesy of the Food Network