Entering Cooking Contests

annie1992

Maybe it's just me, but I actually enjoy entering small-town cooking contests. Chili cook offs, county fairs, a local festival always has a contest using Gerber baby food because it's produced in that town and the company sponsors the festival. Yup, the Gerber Baby Food Festival, I won once for a BBQ sauce recipe that required their pureed peaches, LOL. Prize was two tickets to see Paul Revere and the Raiders at the local park/band shell.


I'm definitely not like PixiStix, who went to the Pillsbury Bake Off more than once. I've won various small prizes, like a "commemorative" pie server from the Libby company for a pumpkin recipe I sent them, a cookbook from Taste of Home for printing one of my recipes, ribbons at the county fair. This latest one might be my favorite, though. My local electric cooperative has a monthly contest, themes have been everything from "Desserts" to "Wild Game". The lastest was pasta and I won first place. My prize? $50 off my electric bill, possibly my favorite prize EVER! Oh, and my recipe got printed in their newsletter, so I'm locally famous. (grin)


So is it just me or does anyone else waste time and ingredients entering local cooking contests?


Annie


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bragu_DSM 5

no, never, wouldn't dream of it ... *grin*

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amylou321

I used to. I also got a taste of home cookbook because they printed one of my recipes in their "healthy cooking" cookbook. My roasted broccoli recipe. I haven't tried in years though.

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nekotish

Our small town Fall Fair was one of the most exciting events in our town, From the time I was 7 or 8 I entered in multiple categories every year.I think the prizes, aside from ribbons were $5 for first, $3 for second and $1 for third. It was so exciting to enter the hall after the judging and see how you'd done. Sadly, the powers that be decided to move the "fall" fair to the July long weekend. Hardly any fruits or veg local at that time, so that eliminated a lot of the garden produce and preserving, not to mention the fact that half the town goes away on that weekend!

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plllog

I don't live in a small enough town! I think my food is too homey to win anything, too. We do have a huge county fair. I haven't gone for a really long time, but back then I wasn't wowwed by the home arts displays. They seemed very basic, so I suppose even if it isn't small, it could be that the pool of entrants is. But it's also pretty far away, and I don't know if I'd bother just to not win a ribbon. :)

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Lars

The Los Angles County Fair is in Pomona, 50 miles from me, and with traffic, it could take an hour and a half to get there, if not more. I've never been to it. I did enter cooking contests when I was much younger growing up on a farm. The county where we lived had a population of 120,000 at that time (it is triple that now), which is not exactly small, and so when I entered the bread baking contest, there were more than 200 other entries. I still won grand champion at age 10, and after that, boys were forbidden to enter the cooking contests, mainly because the men had decided to exclude girls from the livestock competition because too many of them were winning. That was life in central Texas. Boys were also never allowed to enter the dress review or any sewing contests back then. I was not happy about not being allowed to enter the cooking contests in the 1960s.

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bcskye

Annie, have you ever counted all the ribbons and prizes you've won over the years. I know there have been a lot. On top of them, you have been responsible for your grandchildren entering and winning at the fairs. You are awesome!

Our county fair has a pie contest that I entered and one several ribbons, a little cash and a gift certificate from a local florist. Then, one lady won nearly every category for two years. She also baked for a couple of restaurants in town. Several of us dropped out. You aren't supposed to anything you make money off of. I did enter my Native regalia made traditionally at my DH's prodding. Won everything. Then, at the insistence from him and the Extention Educator, went on to the State Fair with it. Won my category and still have my silver platter somewhere.

Madonna

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dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m

For as while, I entered in many cooking competitions. Never won anything even I thought my entries were top notch. It took me a long time to realize that what I cooked were all lamb dishes. Not too many people liked lamb. As a matter of fact, you only see chicken, pork and beef in all competitions, never lamb.


After that I started to enter dishes without lamb, and I won many prices.


What makes winning easier for me is that, I believe that all contestants' cooking are delicious, whoever can present the food better always has an advantage.


dcarch


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chloebud

Annie, I'd say you've done well!

I've never entered an actual cooking contest. The only time I've entered anything cooking related was with Fine Cooking magazine. Each issue had a section of "Readers' Tips." If they printed a tip you sent in, they sent you something. My tips (sent in two different times) resulted in a Le Creuset stock pot and KitchenAid roaster. I still have the stock pot but gave the roaster away.

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annie1992

So it's not just me, I have company. Good company too!

Lars, I remember my Dad had to threaten to sue the school to get me into Wood Shop in the early 70s, so I'm not surprised that the male/female division existed in Texas too. (sigh)

Chloebud I'd have loved those prizes!

Come on, bragu, not even the BBQ contests? (grin)

amylou, your recipes are probably a whole lot healthier than mine, I don't think I'd ever had made it into any healthy food kind of contests. Well, maybe venison....

Madonna, I knew you did the fair thing, but I didn't know you went to the State level, that's impressive. Here I managed to beat out one of the local restaurant owners with my Caramel Nut Tart, but I don't really think it's a very good restaurant, so not so impressive. There are no rules about businesses, just that everything has to be made from scratch, no mixes.

nekotish, the Fair here is in early July too, so I manage to get some garlic, maybe onions, some bok choi, but not much produce, and I think it's way too early. Most of the entrants have livestock, though, and it's become more a carnival with rides than the County Fair. Prizes used to include premiums from companies like Altrista, cases of canning jars and cooking utensils, etc. Now they are "cash" prizes and ribbons. $3 for first place, $2 for second place, $1 for third place, LOL. Lots of ribbons....

It's just fun, though. I'm always lobbying the neighbors or my friends or the grandkids to enter something, the grandkids especially like to try to "beat" me. Everyone makes a big fuss of the kids' entries and there are weeks of recipe testing and "practice", so I have a nice busy kitchen and time with the kids, which I really enjoy.

Annie

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cooper8828

I would like to find out how to be a judge of the cooking contests. I'm thinking just showing up and eating would be the most fun path for me!

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annie1992

cooper, our Fair Board is always looking for Judges, but I don't know about any of the other local contests. The chili contest was decided by the public, they bought tickets and got small servings, then cast their votes, so no actual judges.

Annie

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sleevendog (5a NY 6aNYC NL CA)

In high school we had 'Guys and Dolls'. Wood shop and cooking/sewing. (dolls?!)...maybe 'guys and gals' would be a bit better now.

Anywho, we all did both. Guys at a sewing machine and we all loved it.

In our Catskill mountain town we had lots of competitions I kept winning. Chili and cookies and spring rolls. Chili I knew was a competition but no-one did tiny cubed beef and mole and chocolate/masa finish. So I won that. Many times. (good prizes like homemade quilted pillows...)

Spring rolls I had no idea was a competition. It was a centennial. I assumed it was a pot luck. Best-in-show. Duh. We made a towering tray...cut and presented like sushi but veg...three dipping sauces.

The cookie thing was not fair. I did make the cookies, big bears, but the royal icing and the edge thicker and the five tinted came pre made form Susan Spungen, (sp) who was working for Martha at the time. I just decorated. (boxer shorts, bra and panties, t-shirts with silly stuff.) They were to be sold for volunteer firehouse funds.

A donation but we won a collaborative made quilt.

Then the internet came into play and I played along. A few iPods, and some kitchen gadgets, magazine subscriptions, but got tired of it.

Dcarch should have kept up with it as so many recent gifting has been pretty great.

But it is all about advertising and 'click-bait' now. Millennial bloggers are all over clicks and 20 pic content. Pop-ups, never answer questions in the 'comments'. Steal pics and content, don't care.

I so prefer the traditional State/County fairs I remember from my childhood. It still exists. My first concert was KC and the Sunshine Band at the DelawareStateFair, lol.




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Solsthumper

I used to enter contests and always felt fortunate (and surprised) to win. Must've been judged by a merciful angel. I also entered photos which were often published in a Sugar Arts magazine, 'Mailbox News,' which now goes by 'American Cake Decorating.'

But not all contests were food related; there were silly family photo contests and writing contests that were just as exciting. I would do it all over again, as I learned quite a bit from them.

Lars, when I was around 10, my mother signed me up for a machine embroidery class, when all I really wanted to do was paint, and hang out at the shooting range with the expert rifleman in our family (I was a complex kid☺) .

At any rate, I suspect you and I were born in the wrong era.


Sol


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KatieC

Well, there's the fair, but I only entered preserved foods. I stopped competing because people knew I was a Master Food Preserver and wouldn't enter. I mean, I have a lot of ribbons and a few best of shows, but not any more than anyone else....my food's always safe and never pretty, lol. Now I judge.

I won the chef's vote in a Gilroy Garlic Festival contest several years ago. It was for a pork tenderloin recipe. Got a big box of garlic junk, peeler, roller, roaster, chopper, slicer, and a t-shirt.

I got a runner up in a Taste of Home contest once, and a couple of recipes printed. For the runner-up they would send me a nice cookbook every time they used my recipe. Then I got disgusted and dropped my subscription when it started being all recipes from the internet with the amount of salt or something changed. Last year they used a bread machine recipe I sent in years ago on the cover of one of their checkstand magazines. Because I'm not a subscriber, they didn't notify me but someone was thumbing through it in line and saw my name and town and apparently came to the library for an autograph, hahahaha. I wasn't in and they never came back, so it must not have been that big of a deal, lol.

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ghoghunter

When I was young and newly married I entered Bread, Cheesecake and cookies in the New Jersey State Fair. I did win several ribbons over the few years I entered but I haven't done any contests since! It was fun though!

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Susan Tencza

I only entered 1 cooking contest it was for a small shop in RI and the theme was apple pie. I made my family recipe for Sour Cream Apple Pie and I got very negative reviews from the judges . . they wanted the traditional Apple Pie with 2 crust and such. My friend entered her apple pie dumplings and also was given negative review . . but the people who tasted both of our entries LOVED them and we tied for a popular vote. I told Alice (my friend) I thought the contest was rigged because they picked a long time friend of shop owner to get prize.

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moosemac

I used to enter local cooking contests fairly often, I won some and lost some. I thoroughly enjoyed the tongue in cheek competition and spirited ribbing that went along with these events.

In the last 10 years, I have had similar experiences to Susan Tencza where the judges are downright nasty even though the general public loves a dish. The competitions have also become very political.

I am a big girl and can handle criticism BUT I think this age of trolls and keyboard warrior nastiness has transformed what used to be friendly competition. I still enter a few contests that are fundraisers for good causes as a donation rather than as competition.

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plllog

I think some of the nastiness may also come from all the TV competitions, not just in food. People with minimal experience and credentials want to prove their authority by pouncing unnecessarily. Polish their own egos. Where in the past, at least in some places, the judges might have scored harshly on their scoresheets, but been kind and encouraging (and polite) in their public comments. So long as the items are competently prepared, and taste okay, there's no need to be mean! If someone put the salt in twice one can joke lightly about it with an it can happen to anybody, thanks for trying attitude.

I don't know how we can instill kindliness. I steer clear of trolls and as much nastiness as I can, while finding plenty to enjoy on the 'net. Maybe we also need to combat FOMO.


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lisaam

So, Ms First Prize, will you share with us the $50 pasta recipe please? Nice prize yes but better than Paul Reverere???

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annie1992

Yeah, better than Paul Revere because I could have gotten four tickets to the concert for $12 each, so the electric credit is worth $2 more, LOL. Paul Revere was a hoot though, and although my girls had never even heard of him, they enjoyed themselves a lot, even got autographed t-shirts.

The recipe? This was the favorite recipe of Sheshebop's husband, our dear departed Roger. I do make my own pasta for this recipe, and I always use bulk Italian Sausage, never slices, but whatever a person prefers is what they should use. I understand that the Cooperative has a chef that makes these recipes for tasting and judging and that commercial pasta was used, so if you don't feel like making pasta, buy some Barilla (or your brand of choice)! I also never use the wine, I just use chicken stock, but again, it's all your choice.

Sausage and Mushroom Pappardelle

8 ounces pappardelle pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 onion, thinly sliced

4 links smoked turkey sausage, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

6 large mushrooms, sliced

pinch of red pepper flakes

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary

1 cup cream

1/2 cup sweet marsala wine

kosher salt

parmesan cheese for garnish


Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil then generously salt with kosher salt. Add pappardelle pasta and cook until al dente then drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta sauce.

While pasta is cooking begin cooking the sauce. In a 10-inch skillet over medium-high, heat olive oil and then add red bell pepper slices and onion and cook for 4-5 minutes or until onion softens, stirring occasionally. Season with kosher salt, add mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes. Add garlic, turkey sausage and red pepper flakes and cook until turkey is warmed through, about 3 minutes.

Add cream, marsala, tomatoes and rosemary to skillet and cook for about 3 minutes or until sauce thickens and tomatoes soften. Gently fold in pasta to skillet until coated. If you'd like more sauce, add reserved pasta water one tablespoon at a time or another pour or two of cream if you want a heavier sauce. Garnish with parmesan, kosher salt and more rosemary if desired. Serve immediately.

Annie


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