Judy Monaco, Glendale Heights
Judy Monaco from Glendale Heights calls her style of cooking "free form." And she loves the flavor of thyme. "I used to use thyme only if it was a recipe ingredient. Now I use it on fish, in salad, sauces and gravies. I also grow it in my garden," she said.
"I create as I go along. After checking my pantry and refrigerator, I create from there, to see what different ingredients would make a delicious and creative meal."
Usually cooking for her husband and herself, Monaco says her husband is always there for her. "He is very supportive and will try anything. He is my most honest critic."
Monaco says she's come a long way as a cook.
"When I first married, I had zero cooking experience, but thanks to a great mother-in-law, she gave me great knowledge," Monaco said. "I just took off from there and found out I love to cook and experiment with different foods."
About this year's contest, she says she's ready to take up the challenge. "Even though the format is different, I look forward to another challenge and a chance to create something new that will be delicious."