Home of Economy-Herald Pie Bake-off's Brenda Kovar not a professional baker, but plenty of kitchen experience
Kovar is sponsored by the Blue Moose, a downtown East Grand Forks restaurant.
EAST GRAND FORKS — For 27 years, Brenda Kovar has been a seller for Pampered Chef, a national company that produces interesting and useful kitchen tools and gadgets that promote better and more efficient cooking.
That’s a long time with any company.
Now add to that background decades of personal and hands-on experience in the kitchen. Kovar, of East Grand Forks, might not be a professional baker, but her resume is formidable nonetheless.
“I have probably been baking since I was 8 or 10 years old. Lots of bars at first, and then I got into pies. I just like baking, period,” said Kovar. “I have lots of recipes from my Mother and enjoy getting new recipes from friends, newspapers and magazines. My husband is a farmer and I like baking for his lunch and he is a very good taste tester, too.”
She grew up on a farm near Wales, North Dakota, a tiny town in the northeast corner of the state. She began learning kitchen skills by her mother’s side, helping with cooking and baking. It was typical of the era for rural North Dakota: Dad was a farmer, mom handled household duties.
“I helped my mother. I never did like to garden, so she would do the garden and I would cook in the kitchen,” she said. “You just did it.”
Kovar is among the 16 contestants who will compete in the first-ever Home of Economy-Grand Forks Herald Pie Bake-off, a four-week tournament that seeks to highlight some of the great bakers (and their recipes) from Grand Forks and beyond. Kovar is sponsored by the Blue Moose, a downtown East Grand Forks restaurant.
The competition begins Aug. 22.
Kovar spent 48 years in banking while also selling Pampered Chef products. Like most offices, there seems to always be a few in-house treat-makers, and Kovar often filled that role, bringing various goodies for coworkers.
She’s been retired for four years and primarily bakes for her husband and friends.
“I enjoy having friends over for coffee and the treats that I’ve made,” she said. “My husband is a farmer and I like baking for his lunch. He’s a good taste-tester, too.”
The Kovars winter near Mesa, Arizona, where citrus fruit trees are about as common as apple trees in the Midwest. During the cold months, she has worked on making pies with local lemons – picked fresh from nearby trees.
“The lemons are plentiful, so I’ve made plenty of lemon pies in Arizona,” she said, suggesting that a lemon pie could be among her top choices to start the Home of Economy-Herald tournament.
Her husband, Duane, likes cherry pies. And he was among the first to suggest she enter the Home of Economy-Herald contest, said Kovar, the mother of three grown children.
“He said, ‘the Herald is having a baking contest.’ I had seen it, but hadn’t said anything,” she said. “He said I should enter, and I said, ‘yes, I might.’ And then some friends from Arizona mentioned that they saw it, too.”
In the bio she sent to the Herald, Kovar said “I think this is a wonderful idea and am hoping I will be chosen.”