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SINGLE DAD'S TORTE IS RECIPE FOR $1 MILLION.

Byline: Natalie Haughton Daily News Food Editor

A single father and self-taught cook became the first man ever to win the Pillsbury Bake-Off, capturing the $1 million grand prize with his recipe for Macadamia Fudge Torte.

Kurt Wait, 43, a computer technician from Redwood City, Calif., took home $1 million - the same amount awarded to Nobel Prize winners - for his concoction that uses chocolate cake, pureed canned pears, pockets of fudge and a nut streusel topping.

Conscientious about nutrition, Wait said he added fruit to his recipe to increase moisture and decrease the fat content. Still, the torte has a whopping 460 calories and 16 grams of fat per serving.

Wait, who learned to cook by watching his mother and reading cooking magazines, said the $1 million prize - which in previous years was $50,000 - was an incentive for entering four or five recipes in the 37th bake-off.

"I developed this cake just for the contest" and tested it on colleagues at

an office meeting, he said Tuesday in Dallas.

He said he plans to use the prize money to establish a college fund for his 9-year-old son.

Wait defeated 99 other finalists - including nine other men - from 31 states in the cook-off held in a ballroom of the Fairmont Hotel. Contestants cooked in mini-kitchens for a panel of 12 judges, making one recipe for tasting and another for display.

Wait also won a $10,000 kitchen make-over from Sears, a co-sponsor of the contest, after viewers of a network TV special voted his recipe the most appealing.

"The chocolate cake was a clear winner," said judge Viviana Carballo, a food columnist and consultant for The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, adding that it won high marks for its ease of preparation and blend of textures.

Pillsbury executives said they raised the amount of the grand prize to encourage participation and increase the visibility of the contest, which is held every two years.

"If it's a recipe that is really usable to all those people that are not real expert cooks and has the potential to be made and remade and become mainstream, then it's well worth $1 million," said Paul Walsh, chief executive officer of Pillsbury.

Wait had entered the category for special occasion desserts, but $10,000 prizes also were awarded to winners for 30-minute main dishes; special side dishes and simple breads; and quick treats and snacks.

Linda Morten of Katy, Texas, won for Cowboy Steak 'n Veggie Soup; Fran Neavoll of Salem, Ore., won for Orange-Glazed Tropical Fruit Scones; and Joyce L. Bowman, of Raleigh, N.C., took home $10,000 for Quick Apple Cranberry Pear Muffins.

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Macadamia Fudge Torte made Kurt Wait of Redwood City, Calif., the first man to win the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Associated Press
COPYRIGHT 1996 Daily News
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Feb 28, 1996
Words:465
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