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Bellingham home cook could win $1 million on Dec. 3

Courtney Sawyer of Bellingham will learn Dec. 3 if she has won the Pillsbury Bake-Off for her Cuban-style pocket sandwiches. Votes are accepted until 7:59 p.m. Dec. 2 at vote.bakeoff.com.
Courtney Sawyer of Bellingham will learn Dec. 3 if she has won the Pillsbury Bake-Off for her Cuban-style pocket sandwiches. Votes are accepted until 7:59 p.m. Dec. 2 at vote.bakeoff.com. For The Bellingham Herald

It’s nearing the deadline to vote for a Bellingham home cook before the winner of the Pillsbury Bake-Off recipe contest is announced on national TV Wednesday, Dec. 3.

Courtney Sawyer is one of four finalists who will be featured on episodes of “The Chew,” which airs locally at noon on ABC (KOMO channel 4). The show is scheduled to air segments about the history of the Pillsbury Bake-Off and clips with the finalists on Monday and Tuesday, before the big announcement Wednesday.

Sawyer, an instructional assistant at Geneva Elementary School, is in the running for the $1 million grand prize for her Cuban-style pocket sandwiches.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this before,” said Sawyer, who’s lived in Bellingham most of her life.

This is the first time since the contest began in 1949 the public can vote, and Sawyer is hearing from far-flung family and friends.

“You don’t know how many people you know until something like this happens,” she said. “From the person who cuts my hair to my dad in Chillicothe, Ohio, it just kind of grows!”

Geneva Elementary School feted Sawyer during a recent school assembly, giving her a little Pillsbury Doughboy for good luck.

Sawyer’s Cuban-themed recipe even caught the eye of a food writer in Miami, who was initially skeptical that any Cuban sandwich created in Washington state would pass muster in Miami. But “I was wrong,” wrote food critic Linda Cicero. “Once I tasted it, I understood why this stood out from the recipes of 100 amateur cooks. It is certainly tasty and easy and would make great lunchbox or even party fare.”

Sawyer landed one of the four finalists’ spots Nov. 3, when she competed in a cook-off against 99 others in Nashville. She’s tried not to think about appearing on live national television, instead focusing on the fun of the trip to New York and meeting people on “The Chew.”

“The wait has been hard,” she said. “A watched pot never boils, right?”

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