I am so thrilled to be in the finale and participating in the live cook-off. I am also looking forward to cooking with my niece, Kira, who will be my Sous-Chef. Kira, who is an aspiring chef, is flying in from her home in Florida to participate with me in the cook-off! She and I have enjoyed cooking together for special family occasions.
While I am overjoyed with excitement now, I am sure I will be very nervous on the day of the cook-off because I have never competed in this type of contest before. The only ones to have ever "judged" my cooking have been family and friends! And now, I will get honest feedback from the judges and look forward to learning from professionally acclaimed chefs and other esteemed foodies.
To remain relaxed and focused on the day of the cook-off, I plan to treat it like any other day with a good night's sleep, eat a healthy breakfast, see my son off to school, walk my beagle, and go to my morning Zumba class.
I have definitely grown as a cook throughout the four elimination rounds. I typically do not literally follow recipes or precisely measure my ingredients when cooking. I use recipes as inspiration or guidelines. This is also how I taught my children and the participants in the cooking classes I teach. However, competing in the Daily Herald's "Cook of the Week" contest has undoubtedly helped me appreciate the value in writing clear and easy to follow recipes to share "the joy of cooking" with others.
If you're thinking about entering the contest next year, just do it! If you love to cook, you will love this competition. It is about experimenting with new and different ingredients while cooking "outside the box," picking up creative ideas from other fellow cooks, getting honest and invaluable feedback from professional chefs, meeting wonderful folks, sharing fascinating food stories, and having a blast!