It takes a team to bring Pillsbury recipes to your tables, and ours is packed full of kitchen experts, editors and designers who work tirelessly to create engaging content that brings millions of visitors to our website each month. Here are the faces behind the food!
Pillsbury Kitchen Experts
Our team of Pillsbury Kitchen experts has decades of culinary experience and expertise. From pastry chefs to cookbook authors and dietitians to professional instructors, this team of qualified experts works to bring big ideas to life and then tests (and retests multiple times) every Pillsbury recipe for excellence.
Jennifer Kalinowski is a consulting creative development lead in the Kitchens of General Mills. She works with brand teams and editors to align on recipe strategy and recipe concepts for Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Tablespoon and various other General Mills brands. From the initial recipe ideas and recipe tastings to the recipe methods and copy reviews, Jennifer is involved in the creation of each recipe made in the kitchens from start to finish. In addition to her recipe work, Jennifer consults with brands on new products, product improvement projects and new food trends. Outside of her consulting work for General Mills, Jennifer is a freelance food content strategist, editor and recipe developer for health and wellness cookbooks and natural and organic food brands.
Jennifer has worked with the Kitchens of General Mills for 15 years. Prior to her current work, she specialized in the health and wellness space for 10 years for brands like Muir Glen, Cascadian Farm and Yoplait, assisting in the management of food content strategy, product innovation and food trend analysis. In addition to her work for General Mills, Jennifer has also worked in the Better Homes and Gardens test kitchens as a test kitchen nutrition specialist where she developed and tested recipes for all publications, with an emphasis on health titles. Jennifer has a master’s degree in public health nutrition from the University of Minnesota, and is a registered dietitian.
On her own time, Jennifer is an expert in plant-based cooking and is constantly experimenting with new trends in baking. She genuinely likes tofu, has a serious love for all things avocado and dark chocolate and is a tea enthusiast. Her kitchen is always stocked with unique ingredients like spring roll wrappers, tamari and gomasio.
Mike Shannon is a recipe development consultant and culinary event leader in the Kitchens of General Mills. Mike is a classically trained chef with a degree in culinary arts from Le Cordon Bleu-Minneapolis and has over 30 years of leadership experience and more than 11 years of culinary experience focused in recipe development and consumer-level culinary instruction. Additionally, Mike has experience in wellness content development for several health service providers.
When he is not in the Kitchens of General Mills, Mike stays busy with his own consulting business and works as the executive chef at Roth Distributing (Wolf and Sub-Zero Culinary Theater) and as a chef instructor around the Twin Cities, including at the Cooks of Crocus Hill. He leads cooking events, wine pairing classes, public speaking engagements, adult learning facilitation, large group and media-based culinary demonstrations as well as private in-home chef experiences.
He and his wife live in southwest Minneapolis. His daughter also caught the culinary fever and is a classically trained chef who teaches culinary arts and leads a culinary competition team at the high school level.
Carrie Franzen is a content and recipe development consultant in the Kitchens of General Mills where she develops and creates content for various brands including Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Tablespoon, Gold Medal Flour, Old El Paso and Immaculate Baking. She also works on kitchen innovation projects to develop new on-trend content for the brands.
Carrie has been in the food industry for more than 25 years. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin and her culinary diploma in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Her lengthy experience includes: a pastry chef and baker for several fine dining restaurants in the Midwest, a chef instructor at Le Cordon Blue School of Culinary Arts, a manager and instructor for a culinary school in the Twin Cities and she has been published in several cookbooks and magazines.
Carrie is the one you can count on to bring goodies to any gathering. From pies and breads to cakes and cookies, Carrie loves to bake. When she isn’t in the kitchen inventing new sweets, she is training for her next marathon (26 so far!), camping on the weekends or collecting classic cookbooks.
Tenley is a food content and recipe development consultant. She develops and tests recipes, brainstorms new ideas and consults for Betty Crocker, Pillsbury and other various General Mills brands, as well as a handful of the company’s published cookbooks. She has also served as a judge for the Pillsbury Bake-Off® Contest.
Tenley has a background in corporate research and development supporting food scientists, research and business communities. She has also managed her own food blog, where she has written about her own cooking and family experiences. A self-taught cook, Tenley grew up learning from other passionate cooks in her family, and through trial-and-error in her home kitchen. She brings a “busy mom of four” perspective to her approach, and feels that mealtime is vital and important for families, despite the busy weeknight struggle. She loves that she’s able to contribute her part to helping other families spend more meals together by providing food and recipe content that others can use. Tenley earned a degree in communications and public relations from University of North Dakota.
Tenley’s food inspiration comes from reading cookbooks, food blogs and interesting restaurant menus. She loves taking her family on a tour of the world through food, and makes trying and experiencing new foods and flavors a priority. Her best memories are centered around “food moments,” or those moments with a story, created in the kitchen or on the road with friends and family. One of her favorite dishes is Chana Masala, and she’s also big fan of all things butterscotch.
Mary Kay Sahli
Mary Kaye Sahli is a recipe development and recipe testing consultant. Her work includes developing new recipes for multiple General Mills brands and Betty Crocker Cookbooks, testing current recipes for performance issues and working on reformulation projects for existing General Mills products. In addition, Mary Kaye has worked on eight Pillsbury Bake-Off® Contests testing recipes. She was also Assistant Manager for five Pillsbury Bake-Off® Contests where she was responsible for contestant equipment for the event, also managed kitchen testers and selection of contestant recipes.
Mary Kaye also has five years experience as a senior technician in research and development working with new product development and consumer testing for Pillsbury™ refrigerated products. She has a degree in food and nutrition from North Dakota State University.
Mary Kaye has over 36 years of experience in the food industry, from recipe development to new product development and managing special events. She has a degree in food and nutrition. Mary Kaye’s love for food extends beyond her work in the Kitchens of General Mills—she has a passion for pies and is famous among friends for her extra-indulgent chocolate chip cookies. When she’s not baking, she’s out exploring her local farmers markets and scoping out the newest restaurants in town.
Martha Zeimer is a recipe project check testing consultant in the Kitchens of General Mills where she tests and edits final recipes for accuracy before publishing for various brands including Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Tablespoon and more.
Martha has worked in the food industry for over 23 years. She received her degree in nutrition from St. Catherine University in the Twin Cities. While at school, she landed an internship on the Pillsbury Bake-Off® team and went onto to specialize in recipe check-testing for Pillsbury cookbooks, and eventually, recipes published for the web for multiple General Mills brands.
From new takes on Asian cuisine to the latest Barefoot Contessa recipe, when Martha isn’t cooking in the Kitchens of General Mills, she’s trying homemade dishes in her own kitchen that highlight interesting, bold flavors.
Maria Ingalls is a recipe project check testing consultant in the Kitchens of General Mills where she tests and edits final recipes for accuracy before publishing for various General Mills brands—from cakes on Betty Crocker to crescent roll appetizers for Pillsbury, no day in the kitchen is the same! And that’s what she loves about her work the most.
Maria has over 25 years of recipe check testing experience at General Mills. Prior to her work at General Mills, she studied in the culinary arts program at Hennepin Technical College in Minnesota.
A Minnesota native, Maria loves cooking and baking meals for her family and traveling up to northern Minnesota to the family cabin on the weekends. In her own kitchen, Maria enjoys trying new recipes for her son, who is gluten free. Her latest favorite: gluten-free peanut butter chocolate chip cookies (made with only five ingredients!).
Maggie Lyon is a recipe development consultant for General Mills, and after six years of work in the Kitchens, her day-to-day is still never the same—from putting new twists on Hamburger Helper to her work with Pillsbury and Betty Crocker, every day presents a fun, new challenge. She’s a self-professed master of savory recipe development in the Kitchens, constantly putting new spins on skillet dinners, grilled meals and more. Though she is the resident dinner expert, she’ll occasionally bake a key lime pie or pumpkin bars (the only two desserts she truly enjoys).
Maggie grew up in the Mississippi Delta, where the top three topics of conversation are usually food-related: What’d y’all eat? What’re we gonna eat? And, who are we eatin’ with? Her mom catered and worked at a cooking school, and she was constantly surrounded by good cooks and really good food. After moving to Minnesota from New York University where she earned her graduate degree in cinema studies, Maggie decided to pursue her food passion by attending culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu. She completed an externship at a local farm-to-table restaurant, Lucia’s, then worked for a local cooking school, Cooks of Crocus Hill, teaching cooking classes, managing one of the schools and writing for their former quarterly print publication, Q.
In her own kitchen, Maggie’s favorite recipe to make is her own take on pimiento cheese. Though she grew up in the south, her favorite food to eat is sushi. She has an awesome husband, Mike, and two kids—Redford and Marley—who she’s also teaching to love cooking. Her three-year-old husky, Snoop Dogg, thinks he is one of the kids. His all-time favorite food? Tortilla chips!
Meredith Deeds is a recipe development consultant and an interim creative lead in the General Mills Kitchens. She’s an accomplished food writer, the author of seven cookbooks, and has been a working recipe developer and cooking instructor for over 20 years.
Meredith has been nominated for the prestigious James Beard award for The Big Book of Appetizers, and has also written for various magazines and newspapers such as Bon Appétit, Cooking Light, Better Homes and Gardens, Chile Pepper Magazine, Prevention, Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Dallas Morning News. She is currently a weekly columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and also writes frequently for FoodNetwork.com.
Meredith grew up in the food business, working at her mother’s diner beginning at age nine, doing everything from cooking, waiting tables, scooping ice cream and washing the dishes. She worked for her mom until she left for college, attending the Kellogg School of Hospitality at California Polytechnic University for two years, completing the culinary portion of the program before transferring to San Diego State University where she received a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. She was the CEO of the International Association of Culinary Professionals for four years until she left to spend more time cooking and less time budgeting.
She has lived all over the country and loves experiencing each place through its food culture. She has three grown boys and has enjoyed cooking on a large scale to satisfy three big appetites. Now, with the boys moved out of the house, she enjoys cooking meals for two now for just her and her husband. They love to travel all over the world and do it every chance they get.
Cathy Swanson Wheaton
Cathy Swanson Wheaton is the executive editor for all Betty Crocker and Pillsbury cookbooks. She lives and breathes the cooking-people connection, and her personal motto is: “Life is about relationships, and food is the thread that weaves them together.”
Cathy has a BS degree from Purdue University in Food and Nutrition in Business, and Food Science, making her ideally suited to her responsibilities overseeing all aspects of cookbook development. Cathy is shepherds each cookbook project through the publishing process, from start to finish—including creating new recipe ideas, directing recipe creation in the Betty Crocker Kitchens and much more. Cathy also leads promotion of the finished products. She serves as the face—and voice—of the cookbooks in nationwide interviews and articles.
Cathy started her career developing the recipes that you find on the back side of food packaging, and throughout her 25+ year career, she has created thousands of recipes for packages, newsletters, websites, ads, magazines and cookbooks. She has also served as the first writer for bettycrocker.com and the editor of “Creative Recipes” cooking magazines as well as editor and food editor for several cookbooks before becoming executive editor for all cookbooks at General Mills.
Cathy is a true Minnesotan who frequently says “yah” but draws the line at “you betcha.” She will, however, be sure she’s asked her guests if they’d like leftovers at least three times, and has been known to say, “No one leaves until the food is all gone.” When she’s not creating cookbooks, she can often be found in her own kitchen, finding reasons to cook for friends and family. Otherwise, look for her on the ballroom floor with her husband, learning various couples’ dances, or in the great outdoors.