Thrill of competition remains a constant for 2016 Cook of the Week Challenge winner

Life hasn't slowed down much since John Hampson won the Daily Herald's Cook of the Week Challenge last fall.

In fact, entering cooking competitions has become a way of life for the Antioch resident since his pork roulade, stuffed with barley and kale, won him the title of Cook of the Year at the Daily Herald's cook-off finale Nov. 1.

“The biggest thing after Cook of the Week ended was this feeling of loss,” the father of two said. “I felt this void, and this question of 'when's the next competition?'”

Last March, Hampson was on a spring break college trip with his son, now a senior at Antioch High School, when he got a call from producers on Chef Gordon Ramsay's new Fox show “The F Word.”

First came a multi-hour call on Skype with a casting agent, followed by a request for Hampson to send in a video showing him cooking a few signature dishes for a small group of friends at home.

Hampson, who describes himself as “competitive by nature,” agreed, before realizing he had just 48 hours to race home, tape the video and edit the footage before sending it off.

Hampson also had to prepare a video making omelettes and then a clip showing him cooking on his boat, which he sails on the Chain of Lakes.

While he didn't make the cut for the Fox show, the thrill of competition prompted Hampson to throw his hat in for another cooking series — Food Network's “Cooks Versus Cons,” where two professional chefs compete against two amateurs.

As that effort is ongoing, Hampson has been modifying his recipes for his son, who has celiac disease and follows a gluten-free diet, as well as cooking for a neighbor going through chemotherapy treatments.

And he's teaching cooking classes for Northwest Suburban High School District 214's adult education program.

“I'm not done yet,” Hampson said.

Coming next week: Meet the competitors for 2017's Cook of the Week Challenge.

Citrus Herb Chicken with Tuscan White Beans and Spinach

  2016 Cook of the Week winner John Hampson of Antioch assembles rosemary lemon chicken kebabs. Gilbert R. Boucher II/
  Antioch resident John Hampson cooks rosemary lemon chicken kebabs with his wife, Chandra. Hampson was the 2016 Cook of the Week winner. Gilbert R. Boucher II/
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