James Knupp, Elgin
James Knupp of Elgin says his favorite ingredient to cook with is a spice: smoked paprika. "I like to use it in flavoring sauces and in spice rubs," he said.
His cooking style is what you might call scratch-eclectic. "I like to utilize more uncommon ingredients, especially proteins. I also like to use whatever fresh ingredient I can, making as much from scratch as is possible or reasonable. I like to do things like go to the farmers market and just be inspired by what I find."
And Knupp enjoys sharing what he creates. "I love things like potlucks or a dinner party I'm hosting because I get to share my passion with others," he said.
He says he usually cooks for himself, a date or friends. "In non-pandemic times, my favorite thing to do is to cook a big meal for my friends and have everyone over."
As for cooking shows, Knupp enjoys "Binging with Babish" on YouTube. "It's been great for both making really unique dishes, but also nailing staple and classic dishes."
"Being part of the Cook of the Week Challenge would allow me the chance to share what I make with a lot more people and show them that they don't need professional training to cook great food."
Knupp says he's looking forward to the contest. "I'm hoping to get more of a challenge, being forced to figure out how to work with what I'm given rather than being able to use anything I want to."