Megan and Kyle McGuire
We wanted to know what it takes to be a state fair baking-contest winner before you’ve entered your teen years, so we talked to Megan, Kyle, and mom Phoelisa (a baker and state-fair contestant herself!).
Megan watched her brothers and eagerly awaited her own turn. The summer she was 5, she entered a contest and was “thrilled” to place second. In 2012 she won six first-place ribbons and two for second place, while brother Kyle took home five firsts and five thirds—and a total of $220 in winnings. (“Not bad for a 12-year-old!” observes his mother.)
What’s it like to win a state fair contest? “I was nervous, but it’s pretty fun,” Kyle acknowledges. “You stand up and people clap.” As for the prize money, he says he’s saving it “for college or a car.” (Megan puts her ribbons in a scrapbook.)
Both kids say “tasting” is their favorite part of baking. “Scooping the dough is the hardest part,” admits Megan. For inspiration, Kyle watches cooking shows like “Master Chef.” “They come up with some pretty crazy things!” he says.
Chocolate Chip & Cookie Dough Sandwiches, spreading cookie dough (raw but eggless) between two chocolate chip cookies to create a sandwich. In Megan’s winning submission, Hidden Treasure Chocolate Chip Cookies, the “treasure” is peanut-flavored!
Having three kids involved in baking competitions “is a lot of work,” says Phoelisa McGuire. And a lot of mess: “In the weeks leading up to the fair, it can look like a tornado hit the kitchen!” She controls the chaos by allowing each child to enter no more than 10 contests. “To make it successful and fun,” she says, “we break up the recipes into steps they can do throughout the day.” This gives them breaks while keeping them interested in the process.
When they’re not in the kitchen, all three McGuire kids lead busy lives. Kyle, a seventh-grader, skis, swims, plays soccer and basketball, and is active in Boy Scouts and his church youth group. He also plays the trumpet and recently started taking taekwondo classes. First-grader Megan plays soccer and softball and enjoys gymnastics, taekwondo, and crafts.
“My husband and I are blessed with three great kids,” Phoelisa says. “We think it’s important to give them many new experiences that will make them well-rounded adults.”
Cooking and baking are part of a well-rounded life, she adds. And there’s an added benefit: “At least I know that when they leave home someday, they won’t starve!”