Contestants head to kitchen for Round 2 challenges

By Deborah Pankey
Updated 10/12/2011 11:04 AM
  • Penny Kazmier

    Penny Kazmier

I didn't set out to be mean.

While I've been enjoying these unseasonably beautiful October weekends our Cook of the Week Challenge semifinalists have been in their kitchens working with their secret ingredients and finalizing the recipes in hopes of qualifying for the Nov. 2 cook-off.

Today on Page 3 we share four recipes from our "Elite 8" contestants. The last four will appear in the Oct. 19 Food section.

The challengers each had five days to fiddle with the ingredients and could incorporate no more than eight other ingredients (salt and pepper and cooking oil/butter not included) in their final dish.

As in the previous round the recipes will be judged by myself and three chefs and food manufacturer representatives. We're looking at creativity, use of ingredients, appearance and perceived taste. Readers, too, can vote for their favorite recipe at

In the event of a tie the cook with the most online votes will advance to the final round.

Now about that Nov. 2 cook-off at the Hyatt Regency Woodfield Schaumburg. Four of the cooks will compete in a live cook-off a la Iron Chef in front of judges (including one online voter randomly selected) and 200 attendees. The event runs 6 to 9 p.m.

We'll have goody bags and a raffle (ticket proceeds benefit the Northern Illinois Food Bank) for items including restaurant gift cards, cookbooks and Bunn single-serve coffee makers. There will be food and wine sampling and cooking demonstrations by chefs and sponsors. And, of course, we'll name the winner of Cook of the Week Challenge Year and congratulate him or her with a $3,600 Solaire Infrared Grill and a host of other prizes.

The event is free to Daily Herald Subscriber Total Access members. Send an email to (please put Cooking Challenge in the subject line) to reserve your spot. To become a Subscriber Total Access member, head to and click "Learn More" at the top of the page.

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