Nab your spot in Cook of the Week challenge

Nab your spot in Cook of the Week Challenge 2019

  • Patrick Kunzer/pkunzer@dailyherald.com, 2018Darla Pitts of Chicago cooks at last year's Daily Herald Cook of the Week Challenge Finale at Westin Chicago Northwest in Itasca. Braided Gonnella bread crust was featured in her winning entry, as was flank steak.

    Patrick Kunzer/pkunzer@dailyherald.com, 2018Darla Pitts of Chicago cooks at last year's Daily Herald Cook of the Week Challenge Finale at Westin Chicago Northwest in Itasca. Braided Gonnella bread crust was featured in her winning entry, as was flank steak.

 
 
Updated 8/13/2019 10:08 AM

It's time to apply to be one of eight home cooks in the Daily Herald Cook of the Week Challenge 2019. If you love to cook, try new ingredients and are up for a challenge, this is the contest for you.

After nine years, I've never heard anyone say they regretted competing; several said they wished they had entered years ago. We've also had cooks try again and again, and win the giant wooden spoon trophy for their efforts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The live finale, where the final four will cook from a secret basket of ingredients for guests and celebrity judges, will be Nov. 11. It's intense, loud -- due to a live audience of friends and well-wishers -- and a lot of fun.

But, let's back up a bit. First, cooks should apply online at events.dailyherald.com/cotw by Aug. 16. Eight home cooks will be chosen to compete, and then the fun begins.

Over six weeks, cooks will face take-home challenges using ingredients dreamed up by our editors and some supplied by the challenge sponsors. At home, you can pore over the internet for inspiration, scan cookbooks, test out your entries and then send us the recipe and smartphone snaps of your plated dish. Easy.

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Judges will evaluate recipes on creativity, use of ingredients, presentation and perceived taste. So this is where your recipe writing skills are vital.

Each week, one cook will be eliminated. The remaining cooks will move on.

Phew.

It's fast and furious, but it's a great way to strengthen your experimenting chops.

Along the way, cooks will meet each other and partake in a short interview so we can introduce cooks to our readers. Contestants can use social media outlets to spread the word about the recipes they are working on, and what they think of specific ingredients.

Sharing photos of themselves cooking or their finished dishes has been a big hit in years past. One winner and one team of four contestants were asked to apply for television cooking show tryouts after producers keyed into the contest online.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The prize packages, while different each year, are a traditional draw. In years past the Cook of the Year has gone home with kitchen appliances, gadgets and other prizes of more than $1,500.

So, Week 1: Eight cooks compete, and our judges will eliminate one person. Week 2: Seven cooks face off. Week 3: Six cooks remain and so on until just four cooks are left and heading for the live finale.

But first, you've got to fill out an application.

Frozen treat: Andy's Frozen Custard celebrates National Frozen Custard Day offering an 86-cent cone all day Thursday, Aug. 8. Enjoy creamy vanilla or frozen chocolate custard made fresh on the hour. Participating local Andy's Frozen Custard locations include Andy's Frozen Custard in Bolingbrook, Elgin, Glen Ellyn, Mount Prospect, Naperville and Oswego.

More frozen treats: Get ready for all the Brown Butter Almond Brittle you can handle because Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams is opening at Oakbrook Center. Fans are invited to celebrate the grand opening from 7 to 11 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, at 521 Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook. Free ice cream for all, plus, the first 50 people in line get a swag bag. This scoop shop is Jeni's seventh in the Chicago area.

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