On March 15, 2023

Pastry chef Gesine Bullock-Prado delighted Woodstock crowd

By Curt Peterson

Gesine Bullock-Prado’s book signing at the Norman Williams Public Library on March 11  had a crowd laughing and reliving all the stories and baking advice she shared. 

A capacity audience heard Mary King interview the famous, energetic, humorous 53-year-old cook, pastry chef, TV celebrity and teacher. As a bonus, attendees were provided samples of cupcakes and a cake baked by the author. 

The book, her fifth, is called, “My Vermont Table – Recipes for all (Six) Seasons.” The photos, all taken by her husband Ray Prado.

Bullock-Prado, the sister of actress Sandra Bullock, told the story of how she began cooking. Her mother was German with vegan leanings and, “her cooking was very ‘cabbage-forward’.”

As a child she loved the story of Hansel and Gretel. “But I thought, instead of children, why doesn’t the witch eat that wonderful house?” Bullock-Prado said. 

“The first thing I cooked was goulash,” she said. A wood-fired pizza oven brought an epiphany —“Then the mantra became ‘cheese, cheese, and more cheese, and beer, beer, and more beer.’ I am very ‘cheese-forward’ and ‘bread-forward.’”

She left the legal profession because food inspired more passion. Bullock-Prado came to Vermont from Hollywood in 2004 and operated the very popular Gesine Confectionery in Montpelier for some years. She now has a baking school in Hartford called Sugar Glider Kitchen and teaches classes at King Arthur Flour in Norwich.

“Anyone can make any recipe work, if they are able to grieve, and able to be patient,” she said. “One has to start by thinking, ‘This might be fun, and if I screw up, I might learn something.”

Recommendations, shared with humor and energy, included using “starch water” from cooking potatoes, for example for prescribed water, having modern appliances, baking with perforated mats and “flimsy” pie tins, letting your dough “relax,” having a “cake spatula” and always using unsalted butter.

She is a well-known author of five food-oriented books, including a memoir. 

Mary Schroeder and Stephanie Chase, visitors from Nashua, said hearing Bullock-Prado’s stories and tips on baking and how to overcome fear in the kitchen were well worth the trip.

One book-purchaser, nodding toward Prado, asked Gesine, “Why doesn’t your husband weigh 350 pounds?”

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