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Mokena native wins Emmy Award

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Updated: July 22, 2013 4:56PM



You never know the moments that will totally change your life.

While winning an Emmy Award could certainly be one of those moments, Meghan Hoffman Baehr believes her “moment” might have arrived eight years before she took the stage Sunday night during the 40th awards ceremony.

Hoffman Baehr, who hails from Mokena, was still in shock this week, after winning the daytime Emmy for producing the “outstanding culinary program” — “Trisha’s Southern Kitchen,” featuring the family recipes of Grammy award winning singer Trisha Yearwood which are published in two cookbooks. Her show actually tied — which rarely happens — with “Best Thing I Ever Made.”

In fact, she was not even sure she had won.

When the tie was announced, the other show was named first. She was sitting with that crew, who was so loud and jubilant, she didn’t hear them announce her show.

“My husband was saying, ‘You won! You won!’ I ran up on stage, thinking, ‘Did we really win?’” Hoffman Baehr said.

It is rare for a new show to win on its first nomination, she said,and the show was up against some big names, including Bobby Flay and Giada DeLaurentiis.

There have been other such firsts in Hoffman Baehr’s life.

She was a member of the state championship high school softball team, during the first year that Lincoln-Way East High School fielded its own team, after splitting away from Lincoln-Way Central, her father, Jeff Hoffman said.

The Hoffman family gathered on Father’s Day to watch the Emmys and were “screaming and yelling” when his daughter’s show was announced, he said.

“We are so proud of her. I always knew there would be big things for her,” he said of the oldest of his four children. “She was always intelligent. She was always on top of things.”

Hoffman Baehr’s life changing moment might have occurred when this young lady was a sophomore studying nutrition at University of Illinois at Chicago, Hoffman Baehr said.

It was then she met Ellen Rakieten — the 10-time Emmy Award winning producer of the Oprah Winfrey show — while working in a health club in the Presidential Towers in Chicago, where she lived and where Rakieten took her kids for swim lessons.

But, according to Meghan’s dad, his daughter would not have been living on the 49th floor of the Towers if there had not been a mold problem at UIC’s student housing. Meghan and 400 other students had to be relocated to the Presidential Towers, he said.

“Things happen for a reason,” Hoffman said.

But meeting Rakieten, while folding towels, “changed my life,” Hoffman Baehr said. Rakieten was looking for a nanny for her two sons and hired Meghan. When Oprah’s show ended, Rakieten started her own company and asked Meghan to come on board.

“Someone once told me, if you love your boss, the job will follow,” she said. “I trusted Ellen so much and she trusted me. She is so smart. She took me under her wing. I knew everything would work out.”

She learned the ropes and the language of television by doing.

“I was a like a sponge,” Hoffman Baehr said.

With Rakieten, she is now a development executive — traveling to Tulsa for “Trisha’s Southern Kitchen,” and to Atlanta for the recently released “Pretty Wicked Moms,” on Lifetime.

“When I used to watch TV, I didn’t realize there were 100 people on the other side of the camera who make that show,” she said.

Hoffman Baehr said she double checks and triple checks every detail of the shows.

“Everything you see, someone is responsible for. It’s a really, really fun job. I love my job, but it is challenging,” she said. “When things like this (Emmy Award) happen, I am reassured that I’m doing the right thing. After all this time, my parents are not upset about not using my nutrition degree. And being on a food show — maybe that (college) money didn’t go to waste after all.”

The Emmy Award is “totally” and “absolutely” one of the best things yet to happen in her 27 years of life (the best being when she married Ryan Baehr), she said.

Time will tell if it is life-changer.



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