She’s gr-r-reat! Former Greenfield woman wins Kellogg’s Holiday Baking Challenge

  • Sara Mellas, a former Greenfield resident, won the Kellogg’s Holiday Baking Challenge on Dec. 12 with a Frosted Flakes pear-berry tart. COURTESY PRNEWSWIRE.COM

  • Sara Mellas, second from left, a former Greenfield resident, poses with fellow contestants of the Kellogg’s Holiday Baking Challenge, host/judge Padma Lakshmi, third from right, and a Tony the Tiger mascot. Mellas won the Kellogg’s Holiday Baking Challenge on Dec. 12 with a Frosted Flakes pear-berry tart. COURTESY PRNEWSWIRE.COM

  • Sara Mellas, center, a former Greenfield resident, poses with the trophy she received for winning the Kellogg’s Holiday Baking Challenge on Dec. 12. She is with host/judge Padma Lakshmi and a Tony the Tiger mascot. Mellas won with a Frosted Flakes pear-berry tart. COURTESY PRNEWSWIRE.COM

Staff Writer
Published: 1/2/2019 7:24:40 AM

GREENFIELD – No one in Sara Mellas’ family bakes or cooks. So she taught herself.

“As a little kid I was like, ‘Someone’s got to do it,’” she recalled.

That decision paid off to the tune of four figures last month, when the former Greenfield resident won the Kellogg’s Holiday Baking Challenge in New York City and took home $1,500 that she called “just a nice bonus.”

“Even without it, it would have been an incredible win,” Mellas said.

Mellas, 26, lives in Oakland, where she splits her time as a choir conductor/music teacher and a professional recipe developer and food stylist for Yummly, a website and mobile app owned by The Whirlpool Corporation, and other products. She won the challenge, hosted and judged by “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi, by creating two Frosted Flakes pear-berry tarts, which consisted of a Frosted Flakes pie crust willed with Frosted Flakes-infused whipped mascarpone cheesecake cream, topped with red pears and berries, and decorated with Frosted Flakes sugar cookie cutouts.

Mellas learned of the competition when renowned pastry chef Duff Goldman mentioned it on his Instagram page. She said applicants had to submit their Instagram profile, a two-minute introductory video and an original recipe using a Kellogg’s product. Mellas came up with an Apple Jacks cheesecake bar – an Apple Jacks shortbread crust, with a layer of vanilla cheesecake, a layer of spice baked apples, a layer of Apple Jacks streusel, topped with an Apple Jacks-infused applejack brandy-spiked salted caramel sauce. The submissions, Mellas said, were judged on appearance, creativity and perceived taste.

A few weeks later, she found out she was a finalist and won $500. Kellogg’s flew her and her best friend to New York for a four-day, all-expenses-paid trip that started with the holiday baking challenge on Dec. 12. The contest took place at Kellogg’s NYC, a café at 31 East 17th St. in Manhattan. Mellas was mentored by people involved with the production company.

“I could not have asked for more helpful and supportive people. They guided me ... the entire process,” she said. “They gave me really helpful suggestions but allowed for a certain amount of freedom.”

Her Frosted Flakes recipe was featured on menu of Kellogg’s NYC for a weekend. It can be found at bit.ly/2LER9Ba.

Mellas said she was born in the San Francisco Bay Area, but her family moved to Greenfield when she was 5. After high school, she attended The Hartt School, the comprehensive performing arts conservatory of the University of Hartford, and then returned to the West Coast to get a master’s degree at Holy Names University. She learned more and more about the culinary arts in college and graduate school and baking became a stress management tool that exploded into a passion in California. For her music career, Mellas works as a conductor and musicianship teacher of the San Francisco Boys Chorus.

Her father, Stanley Mellas, said his daughter’s talent is all the more impressive because she never attended culinary school. He said he is so proud Sara was able to come out on top in New York.

“It was just so cool, so cool,” he said, adding that his daughter has always set her mind to anything she wanted to accomplish. “Whatever she decided to do, she made it a passion. This is a perfect exmpale of that.”

Sara Mellas, who is also an amateur bodybuilder, can be followed on Instagram at bit.ly/2s12oLd.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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