Alumna bakes for $10K in competitive ‘Donut Showdown’


By Sabreena Saleem

Alumna Kari Bereczky competes for $10,000 in today’s episode of the Cooking Channel’s “Donut Showdown.”

Bereczky will appear on a Mardi Gras-themed episode as a baking assistant to her sister, Kris Wallace. The episode premieres 7 p.m. today.

Wallace, owner of Buy the Dozen Donuts in Moscow, Idaho, said the Cooking Channel production company contacted her last year about applying for the show. After sending in an audition tape and application, she was accepted to join the show. Wallace said Bereczky was her first choice when she found out she needed an assistant.

“She’s a culinary grad and it didn’t really make sense to take anybody else. I’ve always worked by myself,” Wallace said.

When the sisters found out they would be on “Donut Showdown,” Wallace flew to Illinois from Idaho to practice baking with her sister. Bereczky was working at McHenry County College at the time, so the sisters bought ingredients and practiced baking in a kitchen at the school.

“We hadn’t worked in a kitchen before together,” Bereczky said. “I have my way of cooking and baking and she has hers, and we’re sisters, of course, so we thought we should bake together first before we set out to do the show.”

The competition consists of two rounds: three teams compete in the first round while only two teams move on to the second. The winner of the $10,000 prize is chosen after the second round. Each episode has a new set of competitors with a different theme and secret ingredient.

“We thought of what the secret ingredient could be and we tested different recipes using various ingredients,” Bereczky said. “We had some ideas of what could’ve been a theme, but you don’t find out until you get there.”

Though Wallace is the one who owns a doughnut shop, Bereczky had experience with making doughnuts.

“I don’t really remember doing it so much in culinary school, but I’ve made them at home,” Bereczky said. “Actually, for Valentine’s Day after my husband and I got married, I made heart-shaped doughnuts.”

Still, Bereczky said she was nervous to film the show. The sisters flew to Toronto and filmed the episode in February 2014.

“The day of the taking, it was long and it was very nerve-wracking, but it was fun and it went by fast,” Bereczky said. “It was fun to work with my sister. That was the best part of it, was being able to work with my sister.”

Wallace said she was expecting the hosts from last year, so the American cast that joined this season of the show, including Chef Duff Goldman of “Ace of Cakes,” threw her off guard.

Between the surprise theme, secret ingredient and unexpected cast, the show was full of surprises, she said.

“It was a little stressful, but it was OK; we got through it,” Wallace said. “I knew she would know what to do. I’ve seen a couple episodes where the assistant asked questions the whole time, so I knew my sister would know what to do and wouldn’t really have to ask questions throughout the whole competition.”

Though the sisters live states apart, they plan to watch the premiere with friends, family and neighbors.