Windsor Reflections of Lakewood Ranch hosts baking competition.
At a makeshift kitchen counter Nov. 1 in the lobby of Windsor Reflections of Lakewood Ranch, Sales Director Judi Dunn scooped sugar with a teaspoon and readied to dump it into a mixing bowl.
Her 13-year-old grandson, Grady Holloway, was keeping a watchful eye as he used a stand-up mixer to make a pâte à choux, a light pastry dough used to make eclairs. The amount Dunn had prepared wasn’t quite right.
“See, I’m already messing up your recipe,” Dunn said. But it didn’t matter.
At the end of a two-hour “culinary throwdown” against Windsor Reflections Chef Matt Halada, Holloway came out as the bakeoff winner. His s’more eclairs and lemon-raspberry cookie cake earned the favor of a five-person panel of judges. Halada had made a chocolate-crusted cookie pizza topped with chocolate, marshmallows and strawberries and a pumpkin cheesecake eclair.
“It was great,” Holloway said. “I really liked the feedback. I was pretty excited. I’ve never gone up against a grownup.”
Guests and judges were senior-living industry professionals. Dunn said the event was an outreach for referral sources.
Halada, who specializes in Italian cuisine, took his loss with a smile.
“I knew he was going to win,” Halada said. “I don’t bake. We had a good time (competing).”
Although Halada prepares more than 150 meals per day, as well as snacks, for residents at Windsor Reflections, he leaves the baking to his two other cooks. He doesn’t like measuring, he said.
Holloway, who was visiting from St. Louis from Oct. 27 through Nov. 3, had just competed on Season 4 of the television series “Kids Baking Championship” on the Food Network.
Dunn said she came up with the idea for the bakeoff because Holloway was coming to visit and she enjoyed watching him on television. She also enjoyed being his local sous chef.
“This was a blast,” she said. “He seems to be very organized and very focused, which I already knew. He’s very competitive, which I also already knew. He’s also just a good kid.”
Holloway started baking Christmas cookies with his mother, Jessica, when he was 8. It quickly became his passion.
“Now, he’s in charge of all the birthday cakes and with bringing anything (for special occasions),” Jessica Holloway said as she and the rest of Holloway’s family — father Brandon, and siblings, Tessa, Nixon and Brayton — watched him compete. “He would bake every day if I let him. He says he wants to be a pastry chef.”
Those who attended the event said they loved the desserts, though they liked Holloway’s best.
“It’s very light and fresh,” Windsor Reflections receptionist Kathy Tangren said of Holloway’s fruit pizza. “I like the raspberry. But (Matt’s) pumpkin cheesecake eclair — oh my God. They’re really good.”