It’s as easy as pie. Tell that to Waverly, Tenn. native Garrett Wallace as he competes for $100,000, a spread in “Redbook” and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to work alongside Buddy Valastro on this season of TLC’s “Next Great Baker.”

Wallace’s joy for being in the kitchen started at an early age. “My mom tells the story of when she would give me leftover biscuit dough,” Wallace reminisced. “She said I would play with and mold that dough for hours. I suppose my passion comes from seeing people I love and admire most finding joy in cooking and baking.”

And that joy is evident when watching Wallace on television. During the season premiere, Wallace showcased his southern charm (and skills) by creating “heaven in a crispy, fried bundle” — a fried pie with peanut butter, banana and bacon. While Valastro declined to taste it during the Baker’s Challenge, Wallace assures us the off-camera the camera men were fighting over who would get to eat it.

Wallace auditioned for “Next Great Baker” at the behest of a childhood friend. “I never thought I would do reality television. In fact, ‘RuPaul's Drag Race’ is the only reality show I really enjoy,” Wallace joked. “I felt this would be a good opportunity to get some exposure for my work as a cake artist, and take things to the next level business-wise.”

With the next level also comes mounting pressure. During his first team challenge, the teamwork fell flatter than a yeast-free loaf of bread. “What you saw is a good interpretation of the level of drama on our team during that first challenge,” Wallace said. “Of course, editing always plays into any program, but that first cake challenge was a hot mess plain and simple.”

While Wallace was able to bounce back the second week and help his team claim victory, he admits some of his work on the show wasn’t his best.

“Placed in that environment, all calm and common sense left me,” Wallace admitted. “Some of the stuff I made on the show does not reflect what I am capable of doing. It was work done under extreme levels of pressure while working with strangers under intense sleep deprivation.”

But does he win? While Wallace is unable to comment on the results of the show, he continues to battle for the top spot and title of “Next Great Baker” as of press time.

So what would Wallace do with the $100,000? “First, Dustin and I are going on a nice long vacation,” Wallace smiled. “I would put some money into growing my cake art into a business, and save some for the future.”

Despite filming in New York and New Jersey, it’s a future that keeps Wallace in Tennessee. “[I] live by the old motto be the change you want to see in the world. So I represent my state as a proud, gay Tennessean,” Wallace beamed.

But that’s not all Wallace wants to represent. There’s a coveted Grand Marshal position of the Waverly Christmas Parade that Wallace will be gunning for next year — that would be the icing on the cake.

Photo courtesy of Red Bull

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Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville

Rumble Boxing Gulch, Nashville

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Post-Covid travel planning

Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?

For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:

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