Cook of the Week Challenge finale Monday is not-to-be-missed foodie event

  • Winner of the giant spoon trophy for 2018, Darla Pitts of Chicago celebrates her win with contest judge Jimmy Nicolau of Grecian Delight Foods at the conclusion of last year's Daily Herald Cook of the Week Challenge Finale.

      Winner of the giant spoon trophy for 2018, Darla Pitts of Chicago celebrates her win with contest judge Jimmy Nicolau of Grecian Delight Foods at the conclusion of last year's Daily Herald Cook of the Week Challenge Finale. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer, November 2018

 
 
Updated 11/11/2019 7:12 AM

After weeks of toiling over competition recipes at home, the final four contestants of the Cook of the Week Challenge will show off their skills in front of a live audience Monday -- and present the results to a panel of judges.

They will be meeting over induction stoves from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11, at the Westin Chicago Northwest, 400 Park Blvd., Itasca.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The four cooks, after the elimination rounds wrapped, are Lulu Chapa from Volo, Lisa Eberhahn from Mount Prospect, Leslie Meredith of Arlington Heights and Ann Wayne of Barrington. The cooks will have secret ingredients they must use to create dishes for our celebrity judges. There also will be a stocked pantry for their use.

See what the final four cooks are looking forward to in the finale below.

Last year's winner of the giant spoon trophy, Darla Pitts, an Arlington Heights firefighter, has some advice for this year's contestants.

"My advice to the final four would be, don't play it safe, be creative, and make something that you would love to eat," Pitts said. "Also, I would say don't forget how important presentation is. People eat with their eyes, too.

"I thought the biggest difficulty was time management, so don't waste a second," she said.

The actual cooking contest takes one hour. The rest of the time, the audience can enjoy hors d'oeuvres, celebrity chef demonstrations, samples from the demonstrations and visits with the contest sponsors.

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You can watch the cooking action on big screens or by interacting with the cooks themselves at their stations.

Students in the culinary program from Northwest Suburban High School District 214 will be helping as runners for the contestants and distributing samples of the chef demos to the audience.

2018 Challenge finalist Roberta Fahey of Arlington Heights works in sync with her cooking assistant at last year's live finale. This year's event will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11, at the Westin Chicago Northwest in Itasca.
  2018 Challenge finalist Roberta Fahey of Arlington Heights works in sync with her cooking assistant at last year's live finale. This year's event will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11, at the Westin Chicago Northwest in Itasca. - Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer, November 2018

The winner takes home a prize package worth nearly $1,500, including a new dishwasher from Novak and Parker Home Appliance, a giant fork trophy, new this year, and, of course, the title of Cook of the Year.

The Cook of the Week Challenge sponsors include AMITA Health, Andigo Credit Union, Ala Carte Entertainment, Binny's Beverage Depot,BurgerIM, Chandler's Chophouse & Grille, Cooking Skills Academy, Ellyndale Foods, Gillerson's Grubbery, Grecian Delight Foods, King Oscar, Nothing Bundt Cakes, NOW Foods, Novak and Parker, Novatoo, Pre Brands, Skeptic Vodka, The Westin Chicago Northwest and Divine Signs and Graphics.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Another draw to the finale each year is a raffle of gift baskets, theme packages and much more. Proceeds from the raffle will benefit the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

Tickets are $15 and available at events.dailyherald.com. They include appetizers, lots of samples and a goody bag. There will be a cash bar available.

See all the recipes from the elimination rounds at dailyherald.com/lifestyle/food.

Hope to see you all there.

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