‘They treated me like a queen’: Malakwa woman still baking away on U.S. show

Janet Letendre a.k.a “GrammaBears”, from Malakwa, B.C. is the only Canadian competing on the Holiday Baking Championship. (Holiday Baking Championship)Janet Letendre a.k.a “GrammaBears”, from Malakwa, B.C. is the only Canadian competing on the Holiday Baking Championship. (Holiday Baking Championship)
Contestant Kobe Doan was sent home on episode three for his coffee chocolate cake with hazelnut buttercream and peacan pie filling. His design didn’t pop and the cake was flat. (Holiday Baking Championship)Contestant Kobe Doan was sent home on episode three for his coffee chocolate cake with hazelnut buttercream and peacan pie filling. His design didn’t pop and the cake was flat. (Holiday Baking Championship)
Letendre made an almond roll cake with butterceam and suzette sauce. And the judges loved it. (Holiday Baking Championship)Letendre made an almond roll cake with butterceam and suzette sauce. And the judges loved it. (Holiday Baking Championship)
Geoffrey Blount wowed the judges with this dessert in episode three. (Holiday Baking Championship)Geoffrey Blount wowed the judges with this dessert in episode three. (Holiday Baking Championship)
Jennifer Clifford won episode three with her cookies and cream cake roll. (Holiday Baking Championship)Jennifer Clifford won episode three with her cookies and cream cake roll. (Holiday Baking Championship)
In the first challenge for episode four, the bakers made mini brie and jam pies. Letendre whipped up a cardamon apple brie mini pie. (Holiday Baking Championship)In the first challenge for episode four, the bakers made mini brie and jam pies. Letendre whipped up a cardamon apple brie mini pie. (Holiday Baking Championship)
In the first challenge for episode four, the bakers made mini brie and jam pies. Letendre whipped up a cardamon apple brie mini pie. (Holiday Baking Championship)In the first challenge for episode four, the bakers made mini brie and jam pies. Letendre whipped up a cardamon apple brie mini pie. (Holiday Baking Championship)
Letendre make a coffee cake with cookie butter frosting and cranberry glaze on episode four. While the judges liked it, they thought it was too simple. (Holiday Baking Championship)Letendre make a coffee cake with cookie butter frosting and cranberry glaze on episode four. While the judges liked it, they thought it was too simple. (Holiday Baking Championship)
Once again, Jennifer Clifford won episode four. (Holiday Baking Championship)Once again, Jennifer Clifford won episode four. (Holiday Baking Championship)
In episode four, Letendre was in the bottom two with the chance of going home. (Holiday Baking Championship)In episode four, Letendre was in the bottom two with the chance of going home. (Holiday Baking Championship)
However, Cedrick Simpson was sent home over his sweet potato pie with cake mix crust, cranberry gelée and brown sugar meringue. The judges said his meringue was loose, the cranberries bland and the meringue loose.However, Cedrick Simpson was sent home over his sweet potato pie with cake mix crust, cranberry gelée and brown sugar meringue. The judges said his meringue was loose, the cranberries bland and the meringue loose.

It’s halfway on the Holiday Baking Championship and a Malakwa woman is still whisking away.

Janet Letendre – a.k.a “GrammaBears”- is the only Canadian competing on the Holiday Baking Championship, an American show on the Food Network.

READ MORE: Malakwa woman still in the running for winning American baking show

Letendre said she learned to bake from her mother, who is blind. Letendre’s earliest memories are standing on a stool next to the kitchen counter, helping her mother bake and reading her recipes.

“I loved the feel of dough in my fingers.”

Letendre has her own business called Gramma Bears Cakery. One day, she had an Instagram message on a yule log photo that read “Your baking is awesome! I just messaged you about a really fun baking opportunity! Message me when you can!”

“I thought it was a joke or a scam so I ignored it,” said Letendre.

They later chatted on the phone and Letendre was asked to be on the show.

“Next thing I knew I had plane tickets in my email and was flying to the U.S.”

She said everyone on the show were wonderful and kind.

“They treated me like a queen, I had so much fun even under all the stress of baking.”

Letendre has a reputation on the show for being cheerful, loveable and entertaining.

For the first challenge in episode three, the contestants made apple cider donuts.

Letendre made baked apple cider spiced rum glazed donuts, decorated with almonds in the shape of pine cones.

“It’s classy, elegant and not at all me,” said Letendre with a laugh.

While the judges loved the decorations, they were not moved by flavour.

“You’re bursting with personality and I want these to burst with flavour, but they’re not,” said Lorraine Pascale, one of the judges.

READ MORE: 2019 Spirit of Revelstoke winners

For the next challenge, the bakers made a thanksgiving roll cake with a baked-in design.

Letendre made an almond roll cake with buttercream and suzette sauce.

And the judges loved it.

“She’s a keeper,” said Nancy Fuller, pointing to the cake.

“It has a wonderful citrus flavour.”

“What a colourful, beautiful roll cake,” said Pascale.

Yet, Duff Goldman said the buttercream was overwhelming.

“I just can’t please you all,” said Letendre with exasperation.

Contestant Kobe Doan was sent home for his coffee chocolate cake with hazelnut buttercream and pecan pie filling. His design didn’t pop and the cake was flat.

In the first challenge for episode four, the bakers made mini brie and jam pies.

Letendre whipped up a cardamon apple brie mini pie.

However, the judges got sticky over her jam.

“It doesn’t really look like jam. It looks like a pile of apples,” said Goldman.

The bakers had to make a holiday dessert with one prepared ingredient, such as yellow cake mix or cookie dough for the second challenge.

Letendre got cookie butter.

Since the butter tasted like a holiday cookie, Letendre decided to make a coffee cake with cookie butter frosting and cranberry glaze.

“I hope it’s not too simple. I don’t want to go home.”

“It’s OK,” said Fuller, while tasting it. “It’s all one-note.”

Duffman furthered the cake lacked streusel.

For that, Letendre was placed in the bottom two with a chance of being sent home.

“This is the Holiday Baking Championship and you didn’t even put streusel on the top,” said Jesse Palmer, the show’s host.

Letendre said she forgot.

Regardless, Cedrick Simpson was sent home over his sweet potato pie with cake mix crust, cranberry gelée and brown sugar meringue. The judges said his meringue was loose, the cranberries bland and the cake burnt.

Holiday Baking Championship is on Monday nights at 6 p.m on the Food Network.

After eight episodes, the last one standing will win $25,000.

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