Holly Bauer knew she was about to experience a moment she'd cherish the rest of her life.
Still, an inner voice reminded the Norwalk resident: "You have to remember this moment; it's going to go so fast. You have to soak it all in."
After all, how often do you get to meet someone you idolize that has a national television program?
For Bauer, that person is Emeril Lagasse, celebrity chef on the Food Network.
Bauer just returned from New York, where she appeared with several other recipe contest winners on Lagasse's show.
The "Emeril Live" segment featuring Bauer will appear on the Food Network early next year.
The local culinary enthusiast had submitted her recipe for peach flambe cheesecake. In May, she learned she was a finalist to appear on the program, and in early June, found out she won.
In mid-June, a television crew taped preliminary footage of Bauer in her Norwalk home, making the cheese cake.
"It was eight hours of complete invasion," she joked.
Crew members filmed several takes of Bauer conducting each step of the baking process.
But, the big-time filming took place last Friday.
Bauer and her husband, John, arrived a couple days early to sightsee.
Then it was time to get to work.
The couple got up at 7 a.m. Friday at the Milford Plaza, and Holly Bauer began to apply her purple and pink make-up a process that ended a half hour, and three applications later.
She had to look her best on the Emeril Lagasse show. Bauer, who will have her second son in February, wore black pants and a blue empire maternity top.
After a breakfast of muffins, fruit and coffee at Starbucks, the couple took the subway to Chelsea Market, where the studio was located.
The Bauers waited for about an hour in a green room actually colored green. Television screens showed footage from previous episodes of Lagasse's shows. Across the hallway, a crew was filming an episode of fellow famed chef Bobby Flay's show.
After about an hour of waiting, one of Lagasse's producers escorted the contest winners to the main set.
Then, Bauer's mind went to work, telling her to savor the moment. She had dreamed of sitting at the bar on his show for years, so this was a indeed a special time. Still, Bauer was concerned about meeting Lagasse; he seemed so confident and self-assured from behind the television screen.
But, the man Bauer saw walk onto the set was shaking. Sure it was Lagasse, but he came across as modest and down to earth.
"In person he is just like you or me," Bauer said.
When her turn came up, Lagasse made the peach flambe cheesecake while Bauer instructed her.
Bauer estimated she sat within five feet of Lagasse. She even shook his hand.
After the show, Bauer, too, was a celebrity. She said she was stopped a dozen times by audience members, who either wanted the recipe, shook her hand, or how told her how great the cake looked.