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Cookoffs, contests & competitions with food


Gifted Gourmet
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I often find cooking contests which I invariably want to see eGulleters enter and, of course, win! :biggrin:

Have you ever entered a cooking contest?

If so, what was it for?

Did you win? Place?

Was there a prize?

Was it exciting?

Will you tell us all about it? I find these things most interesting!

Here are some of the past competitions we have discussed here at eG:

KFC Sidedish Contest

Best Burger Contest

The CIA Apple Pie Contest

Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich Competition

The $100,000 Chicken Cooking Contest

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Thank you so much for adding this to my "things to read" ever-multiplying list, Rebel Rose!

You are so right, it is incredibly addictive!!

In reading the list of contests, I remembered that I had once entered the Lindsay Olive Contest with my garlic-cream cheese-ripe olive spread ... but I never heard from them ... :sad:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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When I worked for a food service management company, they had a chef's contest requiring a 3 course menu for 6 with recipes. I was the only woman chef in the region and at the chef's meeting all the guys were bragging about how they were going to win. On the last day, I threw together my entry and sent it off.

The president of the company called a couple weeks later telling me I had won!

The prize was an all expense paid trip to Greystone, a week long class, spending money and dinner at the French Laundry.

They published my menu and recipes and actually sold the entree at a couple large catering events. Now, I wrote the menu for 6 people, not 300 and it was very labor intensive. The first dinner happened to fall when I was taking the class and all the other chefs had to prepare it. Boy were they pissed! The second one fell when I was on vacation. That was about 8 years ago and I still haven't lived it down!

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I had a blast! That reminded me of the next thing I won. On the day my mother got diagnosed with breast cancer (she's fine, now 6 years later!) I got a letter saying I was being given a James Beard scholarship for a food and sparkling wine class again at Greystone. I have no idea how I got this, but it was so great. The class was 6 chefs and 6 food and wine writers.

Karen McNeil did a day long class. We had 3 flights of 5 sparkling wines before noon and another 3 after lunch. I learned to spit that day, among other things. The next day we started in the vineyard, during harvest and followed the grapes to the winery and went through the whole process. Ended with us deciding our own dosage levels to our taste and getting to go disgourge a bottle, do our own dosage and cork it and take it home. All the chefs went for a quite dry level and all the writers went much sweeter.

The next day's instructor was Holly Mondavi, who is so cool, teaching us how to open champagne with a sword, among other things. Then I drove down to Oakland, went to Yoshi's, got a front row seat to 2 shows of the Pat Metheny Trio and got to meet him between sets. Wow.

Went back to Greystone for a couple more classes, if anyone is thinking about it at all - DO IT! It's great to be so immersed in what you study, with other people who are just as into it.

edited to add - check out the Worlds of Flavor Conference thread for pictures of the kitchens at Greystone and the fabulous marketplace they do.

Edited by mklynch (log)
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I once won a watch for guessing closest to the weight of a spare-tire sized round of Gruyere or Emmenthere (I forget which).

I was folding laundry one morning when I caught a cooking show on TV in which home cooks competed for the title of MasterChef USA. Little Nora -- then 8 -- said "Daddy, you should enter." Well, what could I do. I created a menu, told a slightly edited story on myself involving Bernaise Sauce and a Parliament-Funkadelic show and mailed off the application. Surprisingly, I made the cut and went to New York for the preliminary, non-televised round. I called home to announce that I'd made it to the show, and my son said, "I knew you would." In many years of cooking for the kids, the encouragement to enter from my daughter and the nonchalant confidence of my son are damn near the only positive feedback I've ever gotten for my cooking from either of them. :laugh:

I was the last of the six (of twelve) to be announced, on the strength of my poached pear desert, I think, though the pork in whiskey buerre blanc was pretty swell, too. I went to LA and learned the word "trafe" (sp?) when I practiced my scallops with bacon and cream at a Jewish friend's apartment. I was eliminated in the first round, but I still have the Le Creuset pot I bought with my gift certificate from Williams and Sonoma, and I got my first food-writting byline after publishing a piece about it for the Washington Post. All-in-all a nice experience.

Hangovers of the show exist here. I am in episode #207.

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Hmmm, in third grade I won a contest at school with my 'Pistachio Zuchiwi Cake' (think Zuchini bread spiked with Pistachio pudding mix thrown into the batter, and a Pistachio/Kiwi icing with Kiwi slices placed all around). My mother helped me with the technical baking aspect, but the flavor idea combinations were all my own.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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I was folding laundry one morning when I caught a cooking show on TV in which home cooks competed for the title of MasterChef USA.  Surprisingly, I made the cut and went to New York for the preliminary, non-televised round.  I was the last of the six (of twelve) to be announced, on the strength of my poached pear desert, I think, though the pork in whiskey buerre blanc was pretty swell, too. 

That is an awesome achievement! Hearty congratulations!

I applied for MasterChef USA in 2002-03, but never heard back from them, and they never updated their website. I called the Seattle office a couple of times and was told they were "redesigning" the show. I thought it was a great concept, though.

_____________________

Mary Baker

Solid Communications

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I got the grand prize in the 4-H competition at the Brown County Fair in New Ulm, MN when I was in 6th or 7th grade. I made a bundt cake with a cinnamon/nut filling. My mom still has the recipe; I believe it's my Aunt Bert's favorite coffee cake and that's why I chose it. We did not pursue the title to the State Fair, though, because my parents weren't about to drag their 5 kids all the way to Minneapolis for one bundt cake!

Edited by RSincere (log)
Rachel Sincere
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Little Nora -- then 8 -- said "Daddy, you should enter."  Well, what could I do.  I created a menu, told a slightly edited story on myself involving Bernaise Sauce and a Parliament-Funkadelic show and mailed off the application. 

Her brilliance began early :smile:

Hangovers of the show exist here. I am in episode #207.

Oh My God I Remeber This!!!!! Were you the one who had DC names for all of their dishes?

You lost because of the curls. If you had had the curls.....

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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I once won a watch for guessing closest to the weight of a spare-tire sized round of Gruyere or Emmenthere (I forget which).

LOL! I also won something at a local store for guessing the weight of some monster wheel of cheese. I don't remember the prize, but I'm sure it wasn't anything as cool as a watch.

I won my first contest in the late 70s or early 80s, when I was living in the Detroit area. It was an omelette contest sponsored by The Pointe Peddlar, a charming kitchen store in Grosse Pointe. (I retain no memory of why they chose omelettes.) It was a cold and blustery mid-winter Saturday, and as things turned out I was the only contestant to show up. I made an omelette anyway -- shrimp, water chestnuts, and garlic, if I recall correctly, and perfectly baveuse. My prize was a beautiful Simac ice cream machine, the original one with the self-contained freezing unit and non-removable bowl. I wound up giving it as a Christmas present to a lifelong friend. I asked him about it last year -- he thinks it's sitting in the basement of one of his rental houses.

I've also won and placed at a few recipe/cooking contests, sponsored by our local newspapers, that had some pretty good prizes (gift certificates, tuition for cooking classes, etc.). It was a great time, plus we got to cook in the gorgeous kitchens normally used by the culinary program at Grand Rapids Community College. My favorite creation, and my first local winner, was a butternut squash soup drizzled with cranberry puree and maple-flavored cream. Unfortunately, the contests were discontinued several years ago.

I occasionally have entered a recipe in one of the major national contests (Pillsbury, Build A Better Burger, etc.), but nothing doing, for the most part. I did receive Honorable Mention in a Sargento Cheese contest, for my Two-Cheese Roasted-Garlic Caesar Salad. They awarded me a Sargento Cheese recipe booklet. :hmmm:

It had nothing to do with cooking, but I thought I'd let drop that Ms. Alex was the winner of Michigan's 1972 Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow contest :wub:

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Not exactly a competition, but once at the drive-in, they had a drawing for a grill and a bunch of steaks. My sister, a friend, and I all filled out bunches and bunches of forms with the name "Beulah Fay Hoptroff" (the name of a much-feared math teacher at our junior high school).

We won! Robyn got the steaks, and my mom got the grill.

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I've won two chili cookoffs with my Turkey Black Bean and Chorizo chili. The recipe is in RecipeGullet somewhere in cyberspace.

I also won a food trivia Jeopardy type game at a local gourmet shop. To be fair, and since the judge knew me and my background, they purposely didn't ask any wine questions. Had to ring a bell and answer quickly as well as correctly identify a few things by taste or smell when blindfolded. I won a gift certificate that allowed me to purchase my Kitchenaid blender, hand mixer and a big cutting/carving board. :cool:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Just before I met my husband at the CIA, he placed second in a "Food of Spain" cooking contest. They had to come up with a menu item using a certain number of "Spanish" ingredients (sherry vinegar, serrano ham, piquillo peppers, manchego, etc...)

The guy who placed first was unable to accept the prize, so my husband recieved an all-expense-paid 3 week trip to Spain. He spent one week in a cooking school, one week at a restaurant called Tragaluz in Barcelona, and a third week basking in the Medditerranean sun at a lovely resort. He also found time to visit Bilbao and dine at the Guggenheim restaurant.

He was also one of the 2003 Bertoli Sous Chef Award winners -- we had a great trip back to our old stomping grounds in NYC on that one. This was also the event where we got to meet Michael Anthony of Blue Hill. We have since developed a great relationship with him that has treated us to 2 behind-the-scenes tours of the new Blue Hill at Stone Barns project. We got to walk around the grounds about 5 months before and then 3 months after their opening.

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I won a chile cook-off in Grand Junction, CO in 1982, before they started to get big-time. My wife keeps on me to try it again, but it's obvious that the investment is huge. I have three recipes entered for the $100,000 chicken thing and my chances of getting there are better than any of yours. I love this format, one finalist per state, so I'm competing against 454,000 people, most of whom couldn't cook a chicken if their life depended on it.

From Dixon, Wyoming

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I won the Austin Spamarama in ... I think....1978 with my Spam Chaudfroid. Won a T shirt.

Won a TV Christmas cooking contest with Poached Pears with Two Sauces. Got to demo it on TV...and won an apron and $50.

Won a local gumbo contest two years in a row. $100 both times.

You should talk to Claire 767: she was one of the 100 finalists in the Pillsbury Bakeoff THIS YEAR. She's won a bunch of contests....

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Blue ribbon winner (at the Litchfiled, CT County Fair) for watermelon pickle and for rasberry jam.

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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I entered a cooking contest by a large local (commercial) Chile company and won the grand prize with a sweet potato soup with green chile and lime cream. The prize wasn't so grand. A big basket of products from said chile company and to add insult to injury,they used the recipe without a credit in their promotions. So contestants beware!

I also, very brazenly entered the New Mexico State Fair Chile contest just months after arriving here. I read the notice in the Sunday paper and announced to my wife, I was entering the chile contest the next day. There was no way I was going to drive over 100 miles round trip to the store. So, I improvised with what I had on hand. I called it a Sandia Sunset Casserole which included Chimayo red chile, eggplant, masa and cheese. Imagine my surprise when this vegetarian recipe( in beef country) won a third place ribbon. The prize was cash. It was something like $9.70. Yeehaw!

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Last year I showed up to my university's chili cookoff with a couple pounds of top-quality chuck, a variet of whole and ground dried chiles, and a sack of masa harina. I started cooking before anyone else even arrived, and ended up producing a really top-quality (and expensive) chili.

Of course, my only competition turned out to be two guys with hamburger, canned beans, and chili seasoning packets. I won the $25.

Though I do have to mention that their chili, in its own way, was just as tasty or tastier than mine, especially when endowed with lots of shredded cheese and sour cream.

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I correctly answered a trivia question when I was watching a cooking demo at a local fair. (I think the question was something like: "Vancouver produces a lot of which fruit?" or something...anyway, the answer was cranberries.) I got to eat the dish the chef just prepared--crab cakes! Yum. The only weird part was they had set up a little table and chair right next to the stage, and I had to eat with everyone in the audience staring at me. :shock:

Edited by Ling (log)
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