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Toothache part of recipe for success

A retiree's pizza takes a piece of the pie at the 40th bakeoff in Orlando.

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 3, 2002

HUNTER'S GREEN -- Two weeks ago Ann Zovko, 69, should have been happily packing her bags to join 99 other finalists in Orlando for the 40th Pillsbury Bake-Off.

Instead she was consumed with medical problems in her family and a badly abscessed tooth.

"It was hectic just before I left," she said. "But that's what they call L-I-F-E."

So with a dose of resign, and penicillin, the Hunter's Green retiree took off for the Portofino Bay Hotel, ready to give her all in presenting her Bacon Spinach Pizza for a shot at the $1-million grand prize.

"I just decided to relax and do the best I could do," she said.

That must have been the recipe to success for Zovko, as entertainer Marie Osmond called out her name at the awards ceremony on Wednesay.

Zovko's pizza did not win the $1-million grand prize.

But it did win her one of three $2,000 honorable mentions in the Casual Snacks and Appetizers group. (The grand prize went to Denise JoAnne Yennie, of Nashville, for her Chicken Florentine Panini.)

Zovko was in the booth next to Yennie's when they prepared their dishes for the final judging.

"It was wonderful, just fabulous," she said. "It was so nice cooking with all of these other people. We met so many nice people."

Contestants were able to sample the 100 different dishes. "There were so many wonderful recipes, I can't imagine how they picked the winner," Zovko said.

She's coming down from the high of the four-day event.

"I'm so very honored," she said. "Where but in this country do you have the opportunity to display your talents, be in a contest like this, and win all of these wonderful prizes?"

She has had no trouble deciding how to spend the money. "I'm going to get my teeth fixed."

-- Sheryl Kay can be reached at

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