NC State Fair

Cary Student Wins Two Cooking Competitions at 2018 State Fair

Story originally appeared on FoodCary.

Cary, NC – Back in 2017, we reported on Cary student Grace Brescia who won first place in King Arthur Flour Baking Contest at the NC State Fair. This year, not only did Brescia win first place in the content’s youth division again but she also took home the blue ribbon in the Great American SPAM Championship.

NC State Fair

Grace Brescia with her award for her Spam Hawaiian Pigs in a Blanket

Prize Winning Food

Brescia won first place in the King Arthur Flour Baking Contest’s youth category for her Pumpkin Drop Cookies. Last year, Brescia won for her Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies so this year she said she wanted to create a more complicated dessert.

“Last year it was simple because I used peanut butter and chocolate so now I’m working with more spices in my baking,” Brescia said. “It was a pumpkin spice cookie so I used cloves, nutmeg, spices like that.”

This year, Brescia started a culinary class at her high school and she said she is trying to get a well rounded set of skills.

“I’m starting to get more into baking, which I hadn’t done much of until around last year,” Brescia said.

Not only did Brescia win in the baking competition but she also won first place in a competition for cooking with Spam in the Great American SPAM Championship’s youth category.

“The challenge was, I had never tried Spam before so I went out of my comfort zone,” she said. “Its consistency has a meaty texture so it can take on other ingredients and profiles.”

Using that tendency to take on other flavors, Brescia made Hawaiian Pigs in a Blanket with a homemade teriyaki sauce. Her imagination in cooking comes from her father Bob Brescia, who also won third place in the Tar Heel Pork Challenge’s adult category for his Island Paradise Pork Skewers.

“My mom makes smaller dishes and more home cooking but my dad is always trying new techniques and foods from different cultures, from African to Chinese and more,” she said.

Brescia also encourages anyone who enjoys cooking to enter the competitions at future state fairs.

“Even if you don’t win, it’s fun to go and see your food there,” she said.

To find a list of Grace and Bob Brescia’s winning recipes, go to

NC State Fair

Left to right: Grace Brescia in first place, Lila Bender in second place, Joseph Dunatov in third place

Story by Michael Papich. Photos courtesy of the North Carolina State Fair. Food content sponsored in part by Great Harvest Bread in Cary.