Perhaps torrential downpours or the polar vortex delayed your return from vacation and now you're thinking "I'll never get my Cook of the Week Challenge entry in by Thursday."
Fret no more. If you want to try for a spot in our elimination-style cooking competition, we've extended the deadline to midnight Monday, July 28.
All you need to enter is an ounce of creativity, a pinch of confidence and a dash of competitive spirit. We'll evaluate the applications and select 16 men and women to match up in one-on-one mystery basket recipe challenges.
Eight cooks will move on to a second round of challenges and then the final four will compete in a live cook-off Oct. 29 at the Hyatt Regency Schaumburg. Celebrity chef/cookbook author/restaurateur Gale Gand (a Food Network pioneer) will be among the judges. The winner will be named Daily Herald Cook of the Year.
So take a break from unpacking suitcases and reading through piled-up mail. Gather an original recipe and head to events.dailyherald.com/Daily_Herald_Events/Home.html. We will notify successful candidates the first week in August.
Burger battle: Speaking of cooking contests, I'll be sitting at the judges' table Saturday, July 26, as 18 men and women compete in the 2nd Annual Bull Burger Battle.
The live cooking competition takes place noon to 3 p.m., but the fun starts at 9 a.m. at American Sale, a pool, hot tub and outdoor accessories store at 320 W. Army Trail Road in Carol Stream. (Can you think of a better place to hang out on a summer afternoon?!) The contest is an official qualifying event for the World Food Championships in Las Vegas, so a trip to Sin City and a $4,000 grill are among the prizes.
Last year's Bull Burger Battle winner, Wade Fortin, a chef with Second City Smoke in downstate Illinois, won the contest with his Southwestern-styled "El Jefe Agave Bacon Cheeseburger;" he went on to place third and win $10,000 at the national competition.
Come out and cheer on these burger chefs, meet Chicago Bears mascot Staley Da Bear, snack on shaved ice from the Kona Ice food truck and sample other treats. (Sorry, but food safety guidelines prohibit the public from sampling the competitors' creations.) Bounce house and face painting available for kids. More details at americansale.com.
Full of Flavor: Meet celebrated chef Stephanie Izard and sample recipes created with marinades from her "The Flavor" line of sauces and rubs at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 26, at Standard Market Naperville, 1508 Aurora Ave.
Izard, chef at Chicago's acclaimed Girl & the Goat and Little Goat Diner and winner of "Top Chef" season four, will demo recipes for an hour then sign copies of her book, "Girl in the Kitchen: How a Top Chef Cooks, Thinks, Shops, Eats and Drinks," from noon to 1 p.m.
• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at email@example.com or (847) 427-4524. Be her friend at Facebook.com/DebPankey or follow her on Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram @PankeysPlate.