Hilo, Hawi, West Hawaii baker exits Food Network show but lauds the experience

  • Maria Short, owner of Hilo’s Short N Sweet Bakery and Cafe, works on her dish for the Harvest Pie Tower challenge - macadamia nut ginger pie with ginger whipped cream - on season 6 of Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship. Short was eliminated from the competition at the end of the season’s second episode. (Courtesy photo)

HILO — Maria Short, owner of Hilo’s Short N Sweet Bakery and Cafe — and one of 10 bakers competing for the $25,000 top prize on the sixth season of Food Network’s “Holiday Baking Championship” — was eliminated during the season’s second episode last week.

“It was really awesome. … I very much enjoyed most of it,” she said with a laugh on Thursday. “There’s a lot of stress involved in it, and you never really know how you’re going to react until you’re under the gun.”

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After doing well earlier in the episode, Short struggled in a fall harvest pie challenge after a fellow contestant who had earned a competitive advantage traded Short’s plums for ginger as the mandatory ingredient.

Short was optimistic about pies.

“Right from the get go, I never ever was worried about the pie challenge, because I have made thousands of pies,” Short said.

If there’s a choice between cake and a pie, “I’ll pick pie,” she said.

“It just kills me I lost on the pie round,” said Short, who added that she thinks she measured wrong or “miscalculated something.”

She made a caramel macadamia nut ginger pie with ginger whipped cream.

Short said the pie she made on the show is the same pie made at her shop every Thanksgiving — except for the ginger.

“You can’t make a ginger pie,” she said, and the challenge didn’t allow her to use any of the other featured fruits, which were chosen by other competitors.

Although she had already used nuts in an earlier challenge, Short said the thought of doing the caramel pie she bakes for Short N Sweet, but with ginger, came to mind.

While one judge liked her crust, others criticized the filling. Ultimately, they voted her off the show.

Despite her early departure, Short said, “honestly, it was so amazing, I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Her takeaway from the experience?

Always go with your gut, she said.

When she asked people their thoughts about her participation on the show, “The consensus was, ‘Wow, you really want to do that?’” Short said. “They understood that it was a lot to put yourself out there. I’m so glad I did it. It is a life-changing event. … It was just amazing. I’m just thrilled I listened to the little voice in me that said, ‘Yes, I want to do it.’”

Short learned she had made it onto the show in the spring, and filming took place in Los Angeles in July.

Short, who has been baking since the age of 8, has owned Short N Sweet for 15 years — for five years in Hawi and 10 in Hilo. Prior to that, she was the pastry chef for Kukio Golf and Beach Club in West Hawaii.

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Born in Massachusetts and raised in Maryland, Short attended culinary school. She was a pastry chef instructor for the Merchant Marines, which is where she met her husband, who is from the Big Island. They returned nearly 20 years ago.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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