My first year at The World Food Championships was a blur! I had three days to develop 3 recipes, pack up all of my ingredients and cooking supplies, and drive to Vegas to compete in my very first live cook-off! I was too rushed and excited to really get nervous or to consider what I was getting myself into, probably a good thing for me! With my friend and sous chef Mari by my side, I began a cooking journey that changed my life, a trip I will never forget!
Many cooks would agree with me when I say most good recipes start with butter. My recipe for success in competitive cooking stated that way too. What many people do not realize, is that my career in cooking competitions started with a stick of butter. Not any butter, Challenge butter. I qualified to be in The World Food Championships by winning The Challenge Butter Heritage competition, so I featured Challenge Dairy products in all of my dishes. I had such a short time to decide on my recipes, so I chose dishes that reflected my style. Being a mother of five, I always look for quick, nutritious meals for my family. I like to bring a “bit of my Arizona home” along with me when I compete, and tend add a southwestern flair to my dishes. That made deciding on this recipe quite easy! My family always enjoyed my recipe for “Savory Pumpkin Ravioli.” I knew it had the southwest kick I wanted, and it was something I was very skilled at creating. I knew I had to ramp it up a bit for the competition, so I added a brown butter sauce studded with crunchy pecans and the sweet surprise of gingersnap cookies! Creamy, crunchy, sweet and salty, all of the perfect components to create the perfect bite of pasta. My recipes were a success, and my dishes brought me to the top! The recipes I prepared put me in the top ten, then allowed me to take fourth place overall in the side dish competition. Not too bad for my first cook-off!
This is where it began for me. The first year at The World Food Championships made me realize that I could take the skills I had perfected through the years as a Mom, and beat professional chefs with my cooking abilities. I now understood I could compete against other home cooks with my tried and true recipes and win. It ignited a spark in my soul and fueled my passion for cooking. It gave me the confidence to reach for higher goals in life and dream bigger dreams. This event was the first step on my cooking journey, the trip of a lifetime that changed everything for me. A new chapter in my life that I am so grateful to have started, all because of a stick of butter. Isn’t it amazing what butter can do! For my recipe, please click here!