Mt. Washington’s Zoe Peckich, pastry sous chef at Ritual House in Downtown Pittsburgh, won Food Network’s “Summer Baking Championship” Monday night, pocketing the $25,000 grand prize and setting up the potential for future Food Network show appearances.
It was actually a double win for Peckich, who grew up in Canonsburg. She also won the episode’s first challenge, creating a carnival treat that she said was inspired by Kennywood.
“Whenever I think of Kennywood I think of the caramel corn and people carrying around cotton candy bags and the dipped ice cream cones and I tried to channel that into my dessert,” Peckich said of her winning caramel corn cupcake, cotton candy sugar cookies and fried banana splits.
That win gave her an advantage in the finale, earning her a basket of Fourth of July-theme star-shaped cookie cutters and stencils that she used in the preparation of her Fourth of July parade float cake.
“When I think of parade floats, I think big sparkly stars and stripes,” she said. “We would have a Fourth of July parade in Canonsburg every summer so I tried to channel it when I was a little girl and saw a Fourth of July parade so I just wanted it to be sparkly.”
She used a recipe that was her mom’s favorite, a chocolate cake that Peckich spiced up with just a hint of cayenne.
“Anytime we have a celebration, she’s like, ‘Can you make your chocolate cake?’” Peckich said.
As Peckich advanced each week on “Summer Baking Challenge,” she said diners at Ritual House began to seek her out.
“I had a couple driving from Atlanta to visit friends in Pittsburgh but they wanted to stop here first because they’re in the pastry industry and they wanted to try out my desserts,” Peckich said. “It’s really cool to know people are watching and supporting. I was talking to another couple who just came in to take a selfie with me and try my desserts. I know Pittsburgh is a huge supporter of all kinds of events in the city whether that be the Steelers or the Pirates but just knowing people are in my corner cheering me on is really refreshing.”
Peckich said the show’s challenge using watermelon proved the toughest for her and her competitors.
“We all text each other to this day, like, ‘I hate watermelon. I cant even look at one the same anymore,’” she said. “It’s a water-based fruit so adding it to anything you’re just adding too much moisture.”
Peckich said the recipe she used in a Pride-themed episode for a rainbow cake is the same recipe she uses in a cake that’s on the menu at Ritual House this month.
She plans to stick with her job at Ritual House but she also remains open to “a world of opportunity.
“I would love to do more things with the Food Network,” she said, realizing that winners from one Food Network show often turn up on another program later. She hasn’t been asked to appear on another Food Network show yet, but she said, “Hopefully something pops up in the future.”
On Monday’s season premiere of ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” Pittsburgher’s Tanner Courtad advanced on the looking-for-love competition series despite a cheesy self-introduction to Bachelorette Charity Lawson.
“Since I’m from Pittsburgh, we wave our Terrible Towel,” Courtad said in Monday’s episode when he first met Lawson.
“Oh, I like that,” Lawson replied.
“So I brought you something: It’s a Tanner towel,” he said, revealing a white towel with the letter T embossed on it.
Despite being a groaner, he manages to stick around and a trailer suggests he’ll be on the show deep into the season.
“Tanner, every time I am with you, I am on Clound Nine,” Lawson says in a clip. But she also notes, “I am falling in love but it’s with more than one person.”
ID episode on local crime
This week Investigation Discovery’s “On the Case with Paula Zahn” (10 pm Wednesday) explores the murder of Whitehall’s Elizabeth “Betsy” Wiesenfeld, who was abducted from her home and murdered in April 2019.
In the episode “Text, Lies and Video,” Zahn interviews Wisenfeld’s daughter, Kathleen Graham, and Wisenfeld’s sister, Linda Valladares, along with Whitehall police officer Carl Morosetti Jr. and Allegheny County Police detectives Laurie McKeel and Dale Canofari.
The role of an ID representative, “On the Case” filmed interviews in Pittsburgh in February. The production also shot B-rolls in several locations, including on Wisenfeld’s street. Dramatic re-creations were filmed elsewhere.
Local on ‘Jeopardy!’
Christopher Ban, a North Allegheny High School grad, competes tonight on “Jeopardy!” (7:30 pm weekdays, WPXI-TV). In a Facebook post Ban said he hopes to raise funds to “build a boathouse for the NA rowing [team].”
Local Emmy honorees
The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts Sciences announced it will induct retired KDKA-TV weather anchor Jon Burnett and WTAE-TV broadcast operations manager Dan Henninger into the Silver Circle Society, recognizing individuals with a minimum of 25 years of service .
Retired KDKA anchor/reporter Paul Martino will be inducted into the Gold Circle Society, honoring those with 40 or more years of industry experience who have “proven themselves to be a reliable, valued colleague, a respected mentor, a creative contributor, a diligent advocate for the audience, or an ambassador within their market.”
The 41st annual Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards will be announced in a ceremony Oct. 14 at the Lancaster Marriott Downtown.
Fox News overhauled
Fox News Channel will revamp its prime-time lineup effective July 17 with Jesse Watters taking over the former Tucker Carlson time slot at 8 pm, moving up an hour from his current 7 pm berth.
Laura Ingraham will relocate to 7 pm Sean Hannity remains at 9 pm and “Gutfeld!” moves up an hour to 10 pm “Fox News @Night” will air an hour earlier at 11 pm
You can reach TV writer Rob Owen at [email protected] or 412-380-8559. Follow Rob on Twitter or Facebook. Ask TV questions by email or phone. Please include your first name and location.