Walla Walla baker competes on Food Network series

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – The pandemic hasn’t been different for Pastry Chefs Michele Pompei and his wife Coral who own Walla Walla Bread Company.

The chef said at one point, they had to let most of their staff go and work 18 hour days just to remain open and bring in some sort of profit.

“Definitely, it’s been a very difficult time for everybody. The pandemic effects everybody in some way,” Michele said.

The couple, who also has a three year old son, relied on nearby family as they pushed through pandemic shutdowns.

Then, the call from Food Network came: they wanted Michele to compete on their show, Best Baker in America.

“For me, was a very exciting moment and I was very happy to make the town proud of what we’re doing here,” Michele said.

The season premieres on May 3rd and the eight-episode series features ten bakers, including Pompei, who compete to win $25,000 and the title of Best Baker in America.

Pompei said the biggest challenge was creating quality pastries with a limited amount of time.

“Baking and pastry is a science, if you don’t scale an ingredient properly, it’s game over, there’s no recovery there’s no turning back. It is what it is, you have to finish and you have to be done when they say time is up hands up done don’t’ touch anything. I had much fun, we had so much fun together the group,” Michele said he made friends even though they were competing against one another.

Pompei, who started training as a pastry chef when he was only 15 years old, has travelled across the US and Europe to teach and learn more about the art of baking.

However, he was proud to represent his home, Walla Walla, Washington, during the competition.

“That’s all I know to do, so I breathe, I dream and I live pastries and baking,” he said.

As pandemic restrictions have loosened up, the bakery has been able to open up more, including more employees in-house.

Michele and Coral said they’re just grateful for supporting them, and their son.

“We thank you very very much, the support that they give us because that’s allowed us to create a future for him,” Michele said.

You can see who wins the title of Best Baker starting May 3rd on the Food Network at 9 PM.

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