Tips to win cooking contests offered
I wasnt a winner in the Saucy Mama Tailgate Cookoff at the Oregon State Fair in Salem. But I did learn a ton and met a lot of fun people at the contest on Aug. 28, including Rebecca Terpack of Keizer, who took the grand prize with her recipe for Saucy Mama Tailgate Pulled Pork. It looked amazing, and evidently, tasted pretty darn good, too.
While the judges were sampling and deliberating, I had a chance to chat with Rebecca. She is a veteran of food competitions, as well as a contributor to AllRecipes.com and a food blogger. You can check out her blog at CherryPeachKitchen.com.
She has been cooking since she was a child and was given free rein in the kitchen due to her mothers illness. That obviously gave her culinary skills a strong foundation. She passed that freedom along to her son, who has been cooking since he was a youngster, too. He is evidently going to the World Food Championships in Kissimmee, Fla., with her in November and plans to launch his own competitive cooking career.
Rebecca has no professional culinary training; she just likes preparing simple, tasty dishes.
So how could I have improved my chances of winning? After the competition (of course) I did a little research on the Internet and found these tips. Next time, Ill be a little smarter about the whole process. These tips might help other food competition contenders.
Tip 1: Simple wins. A clear, simple recipe is more appealing to the judges. Evidently a long list of ingredients signals a lack of decisiveness or that you are trying to show off an extensive pantry. Focus on creating a recipe that the judges can read and know what it should taste like.
Tip 2: Make sure instructions are clear. After youve written your recipe, give it to friends to read through. Does it make sense as it is written? If not, rewrite it, because you wont have an opportunity to explain the process to the judges.
Tip 3: Follow the rules and keep the sponsors in mind. The Saucy Mama contest required that we use at least one Saucy Mama product. I dont believe there were other sponsors of the contest, but if there were, it might have been smart to include a product from that line, too. But dont go nuts if there are 10 food sponsors, you wont get bonus points for using a product from each sponsor.
Tip 4: Do what you know. Stick with ingredients and processes you are familiar and successful with already.
Tip 5: Contrary to Tip 4, Ill advise you to step out of your comfort zone. Does a contest require submitting a video or essay, the thought of which makes you squirm? Do it anyway. If you believe your recipe is a winner, push yourself. You cant win if you dont enter. Others might be put off by the requirements, too, which only increases your chance of winning.
Tip 6: Know what you are getting into. Is there an online voting component to your contest? Can you rally your social media contacts to vote for you? What will it take to pull in the largest amount of votes? You would hate to lose just because you didnt ask for votes.
I recognize that Rebecca got to the World Food Championships one food contest win at a time. I didnt win this time, but Ill keep trying.
You could be a contender, too. There are hundreds if not thousands of cooking contests held throughout the year. Check out www.contestcook.com/varied.htm or http://www.foodreference.com/html/recipecontests.html. Those are just two of many sites I found listing cooking contests to pick just one.
One contest you might find compelling is the Game Day Chef Challenge. Its slogan is: Discover what $25,000 tastes like! You have to incorporate at least one food or beverage item purchased from a Chevron or Texaco station.
Hmm ... this contest might take a Big Gulp-sized portion of inspiration.
Bon Appetit! Make eating an adventure!
Rebeccas winning recipe:
Spicy Mama Tailgate
12 oz. of Saucy Mama Honey Barbeque Wing Sauce divided in 6 oz. portions
12 oz. of Saucy Mama Jamaican Jerk Wing Sauce divided in 6 oz. portions
2 lbs. of Country Pork Ribs
1 lb. of fresh deli coleslaw
1 package of Onion deli rolls
8 oz. of shredded Tillamook medium cheddar
In a crockpot add 2 lbs. of pork country ribs, cover with 6 oz. of Saucy Mama Honey Barbeque Wing Sauce and 6 oz. of Saucy Mama Jamaican Jerk Wing Sauce. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or overnight. After cooking, drain liquids from the crockpot and shred pork using either forks or for a uniform filling, the food processor. Return pork to the crockpot and cover with remaining 6 oz. of Saucy Mama Honey Barbeque Wing Sauce and 6 oz. of Saucy Mama Jamaican Jerk Wing Sauce and leave on keep warm setting until ready to serve. To assemble sandwiches, slice Onion rolls in half and cover with a generous serving of pulled pork. Top with shredded Tillamook cheddar and add a few spoonfuls of deli coleslaw spreading to evenly cover sandwich. Enjoy!
Saucy Mama White Bean Chili
1 1/2-2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
3/4 -1 bottle Saucy Mama Lime Chipotle Marinade
2 15-ounce cans white beans
1 4-ounce can diced green chilies
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons chili powder
Place thighs and marinade in a medium sized slow cooker. Cook on high until thighs are cooked through and falling apart (about 3 hours). Not all slow cookers are created equally, and if the thighs are bubbling rapidly, turn to a lower temperature.
When chicken is cooked, use paper towels held with tongs to blot fat from the surface of the chicken mixture. Add remaining ingredients and heat for 1 hour in slow cooker on high. Serve with your favorite chili toppings, such as sour cream, avocado, fresh cilantro and grated cheese.
The chicken thighs could always be cooked just in the Lime Chipotle Marinade to make a wonderful burrito filling, and its so easy!
Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281 ext. 100 or by email at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @barbrandallfood.JW_DISQUS_ADD_A_COMMENT