KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kalamazoo Valley Community College culinary instructor is competing for $25,000 on a Food Network competition.
The season’s first episode of Spring Baking Championship, featuring Chef Cory Barrett, premiered Monday night. His baking impressed the judges’ sweet tooth and he advanced to the next episode, but Barrett can’t say how far he made it on the nationally-televised competition.
“My cooking style and my pastry approach is one that flavor is foremost, but I’m not one that says, ‘Oh, it tastes good so it doesn’t need to look good.’ That’s not me either,” Barrett said. “It does need to look good, but without sacrificing flavor.”
The Food Network show was taped in New Orleans in September. Right now, Barrett is back to work at KVCC.
The longtime chef explained that he chose to apply for the show to break up his routine of teaching.
“It was a lot of fun to film,” he said ahead of Monday night’s premiere.
He said his mother and grandmother’s cooking influenced his, but his interest in the kitchen has always been there.
“For whatever reason, I just had always a vested interest in food; an honest, vested interest,” he told 24 Hour News 8.
Barrett landed his first cooking job at the age of 17. He worked as a salad and pantry chef at an Ohio restaurant. From Las Vegas to Seattle, his resume is sprinkled with experience. He even spent time working in Cleveland with famed American Chef Michael Symon.
The crazy confections on his Instagram page can make taste buds tingle, but Barrett’s expertise isn’t limited to sweets. He said his work with savory flavor profiles expanded his cooking knowledge and he still incorporates unconventional flavors into his baking.
“I didn’t work under a lot of pastry chefs, per se, but I worked alongside a lot of awesome savory chefs who let me be a pastry chef,” Barrett said.
He’s also no stranger to television. He told 24 Hour News 8 that he filmed 17 episodes of Iron Chef America between 2007 and 2011.
That didn’t stop his nervous butterflies for his latest national television debut.
“I’m not going to say that I was comfortable with all the cameras around, but it wasn’t that bad,” Barrett said.
Barrett talked about the talented chefs he met and told 24 Hour News 8 that he hopes West Michigan viewers have fun watching him compete.
He said he’s excited that this fall, KVCC will begin its new pastry and baking certificate program.