Natchez pastry chef survives first elimination on the Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship

Published 11:01 am Tuesday, March 7, 2023

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By Jan Griffey & Sabrina Robertson

NATCHEZ — Natchez’s Molly Manning Robertson survived the first cut and is still solidly in the mix after the first episode of Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship.

The show aired Monday from 7 to 9 p.m. on the Food Network. Robertson is competing against 11 other candidates for the title, including a $25,000 cash prize. The competition, which is in its ninth season, involves 10 episodes.

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Robertson, a pastry chef, and her fellow competitors endured two competitions Monday night.

During the first, Robertson created a dessert featuring a biscuit in honor of her grandmother, Hildred Manning.

When it comes to Robertson’s baking enthusiasm, “It began with her,” she said of her grandmother. “She was a dessert queen. She did pies, cakes, and everything.”

However, Robertson didn’t consider making a career out of baking until around her senior year of high school. She now bakes cakes, cupcakes, and cookies for weddings and other celebrations out of her home.

Never before has Robertson ever been on national television for baking or any other task, she said.

“I actually had someone reach out to me via Instagram for a different show, and we finally landed on this one,” she said. “I was going to be on the Halloween baking championship, but my date got pushed, so now I’m competing for the Spring Baking Championship.”

For spring, the theme is all about love, Robertson said.

“I’m nervous about it but very excited and I hope everyone likes it. It was a really rewarding experience where I got to meet all of these great chefs, but it was also kind of traumatic and very nerve-racking. I learned these shows are not fake. You really don’t know what you’re going to make until it’s time to make it, and you have to think on your feet. This experience has helped me learn how to bake under pressure.”

Robertson said the least amount of notice she’s ever had for a project before the baking championship was a cupcake order that she had to do in four hours.

“I normally don’t take stuff last minute because I like setting myself up for success,” she said.

In the second and most crucial challenge Monday night, competitors were challenged to bake a multi-layer cake using a berry of their choosing and decorate it in a way that highlights their favorite springtime activity. Robertson’s cake depicted the outdoors in Natchez with her three dogs.

Judges remarked how delicious Robertson’s almond and cardamom cake tasted.

Keem Jackson, a pastry chef from Florence, South Carolina, was the first to be eliminated from the competition.

The competition continues next week on Monday at 7 p.m. on the Food Network.