If you haven't heard, our friends at Rebel Donut are making their way back to The Cooking Channel tonight for an episode of "Donut Showdown." The popular show pits three of the best donut makers from across North America against one another to test their skill and creativity in the kitchen. Becky Vogsland and Sterling Rojo, two of Rebel's bakers, are representing Team Rebel and rolling out the dough in hopes of rolling in dough at the end of the 30-minute episode. The winning team takes home a sweet $10,000 prize.
If this interview with Becky doesn't make you want to buy a donut and tune into tonight's episode, we surely can't help you.
ABQ365 - Let's start with a little background about yourself. Where are you from, how long have you been baking, how long have you been at Rebel? What is something you like to do outside of the kitchen?
Becky Vogsland - I've been a New Mexico resident my whole life. I was born at St. Joe's (now Lovelace) on Golfcourse and grew up in Rio Rancho. I think its important to mention that I was home schooled until I was in the 7th grade, because my mom used baking as science experiments. She considers herself a "crunchy" mom, meaning she made as much from scratch as she could and tried to be as natural as possible in her approach to life and food. That said, I didn't really find a passion for baking until I was older. I knew I could follow a recipe, and did so many times throughout college, but it wasn't until I graduated from UNM with my Bachelor's in Sociology that I began to fully realize how passionate about it I could be. It was kind of a whim, but I decided that I was going to teach myself to bake. Really bake. So, I did.
I treated it the same way we treated any newsubject when I was a kid: I read, baked, read some more, baked a little, read some more, then maybe I tried my hand at baking again. I found the chemistry of baking fascinating, so I stuffed my brain full of information. I had the opportunity to practice when I moved to Hawaii for a short time in 2009. I was so lonely and bored, having moved there with a boy I'd only really known for two weeks. I was young, stupid, and ready for adventure. It was a terrible 13 months, sometimes I regret the decision to go (read: I regret being a wild, impulsive 23 year old who just wouldn't learn her lesson), except I got to bake. I baked until my 600 sq foot apartment was almost too hot to inhabit, so I'd strip down to my bikini and bake some more. I had a yeast started that I kept alive like a house plant, and I learned, mostly from baking blogs and horrific failures, what it took to make damn good bread. The altitude here threw me off for a while when I finally came home, but I knew I could learn to adjust.
I found a craigslist ad for Rebel in early summer of 2012, months before we opened our doors. I was working at a retail store for a major cell phone company, and it was killing my soul. I'm just not made to be part of the corporate world, especially not one that tied my hands with red tape every time I tried to genuinely help someone. I badgered Carrie (the shop's owner) for weeks until she broke down and gave me a job. We started working a week before we opened our doors in June of 2012, none of us having ever made donuts (at least in mass quantities. My grandma has a great recipe for doughnuts that I've made plenty of times. Yum!).
Being at Rebel, even through all the highs and lows, is my dream job.
Outside of work, and the kitchen, I spend a lot of time with my husband, Dan Gutierrez. We like to throw an annual party called Tacos & Trophies that we're gearing up for in November. Imagine being nominated for an award, going to the ceremony, winning, and getting to eat tacos all night. It's sort of like that, but way more fun. In fact, its so much fun that it was the theme of our wedding and we have corresponding tattoos: He has a taco, I have a trophy.
ABQ365 - Can you give us a hint as to what the secret ingredient is for tomorrow's episode?
BV - I can tell you that we had to use Peppermint patties in the first round (see photo), but I'd rather keep the second round to myself. You'll have to watch the episode ;o)
ABQ365 - Do you have a favorite judge?
BV - I really loved Elizabeth Faulkner. She's a pastry chef who made a name for herself in the Bay Area and has won a ton of awards for her work. She has TONS of experience, and told me (on air) that she was really impressed with my buttercream icing, which is this shining moment in my professional and personal life. After we were done filming she actually made a bee-line for me and gave me this huge hug. I'm a hugger myself, so she instantly became my favorite.
One of the other judges, Jeff Mahin actually grew up in Albuquerque, which was really cool to learn about.
ABQ365 - The show's host, Daryn Jones, adds some fun humor to what has been affectionately referred to as a "confectionary circus." Was it a circus being on the show? Any funny stories?
BV - The whole experience was a lot of fun. The actual competition felt a lot more like a busy day at work than a circus though. Sterling and I are both used to working within time limits and creating fancy flavors on the fly. I was sort of the belle of the ball with the studio crew though. I'm a grown up theater kid, so being on a stage is one of my favorite places to be and I have a tendency to show off a lot, which actually made the crew's jobs a lot easier since I don't think I shut up once while we were filming.
ABQ365 - Obviously you are in competition with the other bakers, but did you learn any tricks from them? Plan to stay in touch with any of them?
BV - Honestly, we were so focused on our own product that the other contestants weren't anywhere in my head while we were filming. However Sterling and I got along famously with the two pastry chefs from we competed with, Charles Barrett and Christopher Munguia. They're with the Four Season's Hotel in Atlanta. We immediately became facebook friends and have all been really excited about our episode finally airing.
ABQ365 - What is one thing that surprised you about being on the show?
BV - We all had a wrangler. There was a person who's only job was to badger the contestants into externalizing their internal monologue about our process, stress level, etc. Like I said, I never shut up so her job was SUPER easy. It was kind of funny to hear her constantly asking Charles what he was thinking and how he felt about time. It was like witnessing a dad being followed around by a REALLY annoying 5 year old. "What are you doing?" "Why?" "Why?" "Why?" It was fun.
ABQ365 - What's your favorite donut at Rebel?
BV - I'd say its a toss up between the Barny Rebel, and the Snow White.
Editor's Note: Tonight's (September 12, 2014) episode of Donut Showdown airs at 8 p.m. local time.