The Untold Truth Of Gesine Bullock-Prado

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Fans of baker Gesine Bullock-Prado may best know her from the popular Food Network show "Baked in Vermont,” filmed entirely at Gesine and her husband Raymond Prado's 18th century Vermont farmhouse property (per Dartmouth Alumni Magazine), as well as her appearances as a judge on "Beat Bobby Flay," "Christmas Cookie Challenge," and "Worst Cooks In America." 

Many followers of the accomplished baking talent also know that Gesine is the younger sister of Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock and that she is a woman who loves her career. On her website, Gesine describes herself as a "Pastry chef. Vermonter. Writer and teacher of all things sweet. Person on television baking treats." She also lightheartedly confesses, "I think about what I'm going to bake while we're eating the thing I just baked," which, to be honest, makes us feel like she's our sister as well.

Bullock-Prado is likewise the author of six books including five cookbooks and a memoir titled "My Life from Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake at a Time" (2010), as seen on Amazon, which chronicles the biggest transition of her life — when she decided to become a baker. Now, she spreads that joy, running a nearby baking school called Sugar Glider Kitchen, and Gesine's students have even made appearances on "Baked in Vermont."

Fans love Gesine not only because she is so talented, but also because she's down-to-earth and approachable — and has a story unlike any other.

Growing up in Germany influences her baking style

Gesine might owe part of her intrepid career choice to her parents who gave their daughters a worldly perspective from a young age. Although Gesine was born in Washington, D.C. in 1970, the early years of the Bullock girls' lives were spent in Germany, where their mother Helga hails from and their father John was stationed with his position with the US Pentagon. Work brought the Bullocks back to Washington, D.C. when Gesine was 5 and Sandra was 11. Their mother's career as an opera singer, however, meant that the girls often traveled with her on European tours, exposing the young girls to different cultures, according to The Guardian.

Gesine told Texas Monthly that being raised in two worlds inspired her baking as well as a cookbook, "Pie It Forward," that came out in 2012. She also said her pastry background is multi-faceted, experiencing German traditions as a child as well as the different versions of pies that the US has to offer. Gesine thought it would be "incredibly fun" to write a cookbook that blended her German and European experience along with her life as "a very American girl." Moreover, she said, she really wanted to introduce home bakers to creative techniques that aren't often associated with pie-making.

Her mom was a "health food nut"

Although Helga "pulled out all the stops" with baked treats at Christmas, birthdays, and other special occasions (via Milwaukee Journal-Sentiel), her mom was, in Gesine's words, a "health food nut." The family were actually vegans that followed a macrobiotic diet and ate organic foods decades before the concepts became mainstream. But family gatherings were another story, Gesine told Texas Monthly. On visits to Germany, it "all out craziness with pastries and foods." Similarly, when visiting dad John's family in Alabama, the girls were allowed to indulge in "Coca Cola, Oreos, fried chicken, and things that were totally forbidden in everyday life."

Despite her healthy lifestyle, Helga was diagnosed with colon cancer, and after battling the disease briefly, she passed away in 2000. The news was a blow to the entire family, and Gesine told The Guardian that her mother believed her careful diet should have prevented this particular illness. In 2005, both Gesine and Sandra announced they'd had screening colonoscopies together (presumably to raise awareness). Sandra shared that she and Gesine left the doctor's office and treated themselves to a bizarre shopping spree neither sister remembers very clearly (via Contact Music).

Gesine is a former Hollywood executive

Gesine Bullock-Prado is one smart cookie, with a BA from the prestigious University of Virginia and a law degree from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. In 1995, she helped sister Sandra establish Fortis Films (via Variety), serving as legal counsel and president. The company's first film was the 1998 movie "Hope Floats."

Mom Helga's death in 2000 had a profound impact on Gesine, however, causing her to take a look at what she really wanted to do with her life. In a 2010 interview with Vermont Public Radio, Gesine said she never really fit in with the Hollywood set, and by the early 2000s, the only appeal it held was working with Sandra. 

This, however, wasn't reason enough and Gesine sought a life that was truer to herself. She told The Guardian she found Hollywood "relentless, exhausting, and disillusioning." She also relayed to VPR host Liane Hansen, "I think I knew the minute I got to Hollywood that it wasn't quite for me ... you're always hoping that you can fit in somehow. And I had my sister and we worked together, so that made it easier, on the one hand — and then, on the other hand, [made it] harder to leave." In a promotional YouTube video for one of her books, Gesine said, "In my grief I baked to soothe my heartbreak. With each pastry grew the revelation that in order to be really happy, I had to build my life from scratch — one cake at a time."

Vermont was her husband's idea

Gesine married Hollywood storyboard artist and Dartmouth College graduate Ray Prado in 1999. The couple's bond was undeniable, Gesine recalled for Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. "We both felt like we'd been beamed down from the same alien planet," she said. In 2004, when Gesine decided she was done with Hollywood and wanted to be a full-time baker, Ray, who had great memories of Vermont from his college years, suggested a move to the Green Mountain State. Gesine quickly found it was the right fit. Though she grew up in suburban Hanover, Virginia, Vermont's Upper Valley reminded Gesine of her mother's Bavarian village, where she and sister Sandra spent time as kids. 

Not long after arriving in New England, Gesine tied on her apron and opened Gesine Confectionary in 2005 (via Los Angeles Times). Three years later, she closed the Montpelier shop (via WCAX) after realizing she liked the business side much less than the art of baking — or teaching baking, or writing books about baking, and eventually, hosting a show about baking. 

On her website, Gesine jokes about needing more quality time with sugar and butter. She would go on to open her cooking school, Sugar Glider Kitchen in Hartford, Vermont in 2008. After a series of successful cookbooks, she was approached by Food Network, which produced Gesine's "Baked in Vermont" series in 2017 and 2018 (via IMDB).

She bakes to procrastinate - and to apologize

Anyone that has discovered the joys of baking knows it fills your soul in some ways. In an interview with Parade, Gesine Bullock-Prado called baking "incredibly meditative and satisfying." She said it's the next best thing to wizardry in that it enables you to transform ingredients into something delicious. "Unlike cooking, where you see an ingredient still in front of you and very recognizably — like there's the beef, there's the red pepper — in baking, you combine disparate elements and you create something entirely new," she explained.

Gesine also finds baking "redemptive." She said, "If you have trouble saying 'I'm sorry,' a pie or a cake will do just as well." She also confesses to "procrastibaking," a coping mechanism she learned in law school. "Instead of studying for the bar, I baked," she said. "And I found that to be my way of releasing any stress and certainly procrastination. But it works for me!"

Her sister's wedding cake almost didn't happen

When your only sister gets married and you're a professional pastry chef, naturally, it's your job and honor to bake the wedding cake. Speaking to Vermont Public Radio, Gesine Bullock-Prado shared a harrowing and hilarious story about the comedy of errors that almost ruined Sandra Bullock's wedding dessert. To avoid tipping off the paparazzi about the top-secret 2005 nuptials to now ex-husband Jesse James, Gesine decided to make the cake at Sandra's Austin, Texas home, the site of the wedding. The only problem? Gesine arrived to find a broken oven, and by the time it was fixed, she had less than a day to make a "monstrous" wedding cake as well as individual cakes for 200 guests.

Transporting the cake to the reception area was another problem. "I had to assemble [it] in essentially, a cooler van. I was, like, in the back of a pickup truck that had an air conditioner," she said. She also had to do put it together in near darkness. Just before heading toward her spot in the procession (where she was the only bridesmaid) she noticed the cake was leaning to one side. She solved the problem by turning it so the tilt was less visible, praying it wouldn't fall over, and adding creative floral diversions. "Any mistake that I had made in the dark, I just said, 'Shove a flower in there.'" And clearly it was a day — and cake — to remember.