JWU Providence baking students Marissa Bunnewith, Gabrielle Masullo, Mary Grace McGuinn, Alexandra Paradise, Lacey Sherrer and Christina Egan with Martha Stewart (center) on the set of “Martha Stewart Bakes.” Photo: Mike Krautter
Six students from JWU Providence’s International Baking & Pastry Institute (IBPI) recently filmed two episodes of Martha Stewart’s PBS show, “Martha Bakes,” now in its sixth season.
Alexandra Paradise, Christina Egan, Gabrielle Masullo, Lacey Sherrer, Marissa Bunnewith, and Mary Grace McGuinn traveled to Martha’s Bedford, NY, farm, where they were featured in “One Bowl Desserts” and “Layered Yeasted Dough.”
The 6 JWU students were among 39 culinary students who were invited from renowned culinary schools across the US, including the Culinary Institute of America, the Institute of Culinary Education and the International Culinary Center.
“The sixth season of the show is particularly special to me, with talented culinary students joining me on each episode,” said Martha of the season, which also includes favorite recipes like Homemade Doughnuts and Pizza Dough.
We asked Mary, Alexandra and Christina to tell us about this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Their episodes will air at various times, depending on your region — check your local PBS listings to watch.
Martha Stewart in her personal kitchen in Bedford, New York, where she filmed the sixth season of her PBS series, “Martha Bakes.”
What inspires you the most about Martha?
Mary: I’ve been watching Martha since I was a little girl. I’d sit in front of the tv and watch her bake and craft and I always wanted to do what she was making. I’m inspired by her true love for baking because I share that same love. I always say you have to do what you love and I think Martha does that.
Alex: I love how Martha can pick up any hobby, whether it’s cooking or home decorating, … with such certainty and skill. She puts so much passion into everything she does and makes you believe you can do it yourself.
What lessons from your JWU labs most helped you on set?
Mary: My episode was about laminated doughs so my bread labs helped me the most. Knowing the basics of how the bread is produced made me able to talk with Martha and the other girls about the product. Bread is my favorite thing to bake so I was really happy to find out that was what my episode was on. JWU also taught me how to stay focused and communicate with others to get the project done and I think that helped on set.
Alexandra: The biggest lesson from labs that helped on set was ultimately professionalism. At JWU that’s one of the most important characteristics you can have and it definitely helped while being around so many people and especially Martha.
Christina: The most helpful thing used from JWU labs on set was being able to understand why certain ingredients are used over others, and how the smallest change of ingredients or methods can affect a recipe.
Any special challenges when you were filming? How did you overcome them?
Alexandra: With my segment we were crunched with time, so even with the magic of television — that is, having the next step prepared already — we had to work around different tasks and steps to get the segment filmed and completed. I was also super nervous at first when filming but after a few minutes after we were talking with Martha and it was just so natural and reassuring.
Once we got to talking with Martha, she was just so funny and awesome.”-Allie
Christina: While filming, the biggest challenge was timing. It takes hours and hours to film a short episode, so it is important to be time conscious. Also, since multiple desserts were made, the ovens and temperatures had to be monitored carefully.
Favorite moment on set?
Mary: Just talking with Martha. The cameras weren’t rolling and we were talking about all the animals she has at her house. Just talking to her like she was a friend was the best part.
Alexandra: The whole experience was amazing and definitely a great memory, but my all-time favorite moment was while we were filming and her dogs were just walking around and I got to pet and play with them!
Christina: Getting to know Martha Stewart and seeing behind the scenes of how and episode is actually filmed. It is really cool how she invites guests and her crew into her own home to share her love of baking.
Coolest/most surprising thing about meeting Martha:
Alexandra: Once we got to talking with Martha and had a few conversations she was just so funny and awesome.
What’s next for you?
Mary: I am working full time in bakery, loving every minute of it.
Alexandra: I will be continuing in the Baking & Pastry Field and more specifically be decorating cakes.
Christina: I am now working as an assistant event coordinator, and although I am not in the kitchen, baking will always be a passion of mine. The hospitality industry has become very important to me and I have been able to combine my love for baking, event planning, and helping others. I'm excited for what the future holds and I'm so thankful for the experience to have met Martha Stewart and to have been a guest on “Martha Bakes.”