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Gray home baker continues to share her kitchen traditions

By SERINA MARSHALL

Staff Writer

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When it comes to baking, many are used to baking in a hot kitchen, but not many have baked under hot stage lights.

Local home baker and former participant of the television show the “Next Great Baker,” Julie Voudrie, can say she’s done both in her career.

Voudrie began baking when she was a little girl.

“There is such a cooking culture in the Appalachian region,” said Voudrie, who lives in Gray. “As I got older, with four kids and money being tight, I began baking birthday cakes for my kids each year.”

Voudrie’s love for baking was apparent to all who knew her, especially her oldest daughter, Hannah.

“In 2010, Buddy Valastro (TLC’s Cake Boss), was looking for the Next Great Baker,” Voudrie said. “My oldest daughter tried to sign me up and said, ‘Let’s go for it’. We sent in a video and were given an in-person interview in New York City. We weren’t chosen that time. Then, when season four of the show came around, they were looking for teams. My oldest daughter was in college then and we made the show as the pink team.”

Voudrie and her daughter went to the Cake Boss factory in Hoboken, New Jersey for the first three episodes. The final episode was taped in Las Vegas.

“The first episode we won first with our cinnamon roll biscuits,” Voudrie said. “It was a great experience, and the people were phenomenal.”

Food City then asked Voudrie to be a representative on local television show “Daytime Tri-Cities.”

“I’ve done about 100 episodes since 2014,” Voudrie said. “I do about one show per month.”

East Tennessee State University has also benefited from her knowledge as Voudrie shares her passion with continuing education cooking classes at the college.

“I teach kids and adults, and provide them with their own cookbook,” Voudrie said.

Not only does Voudrie share this passion at the University, but she also does so at her church.

“I will be starting holiday baking classes at Celebration Church (in Blountville) in November,” Voudrie said. “It will be a series starting Nov. 2 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. These classes will be for kids ages 10 to 15. Then there will be classes for ages 16 and up on Nov. 4, 11 and 18 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.”

Working alongside Celebration’s professional pastry chef, Debbie Neilson, these classes will be the same as she teaches at ETSU where the baked goods will include pumpkin bread, fudge, Christmas cookies and everything in between. And of course, a complete cookbook for each attendee.

“You can come to one class or all three,” Voudrie said. “There will also be an additional class Dec. 7 for Christmas pastries. We will be making danishes filled with fruit and custard. I make them on Christmas morning for my family.”

You can find out the details and sign up at www.cctri.org/bake.

“My goal in sharing my passion is to show people that you can do it. There is a certain way and there are tips to make it happen,” Voudrie said. “(Baking) is a wonderful memory for your family and people you love, just a warm time for family and friends. I am excited to unlock opportunities for people.”