There's little in life more thrilling than watching a loved one succeed. My grandson is an aspiring taekwondo champ, and I swear I'm more nervous than he is when he competes! Well, following the recent World Food Championships in Las Vegas, I feel like my family has grown tenfold. The entire Crew and I were on pins and needles watching like proud peacocks as Just A Pinch members cooked with passion... and won.
After conducting a sweeping talent-search on www.justapinch.com, 25 lucky home cooks won an invitation to compete against the pros at the 2012 Championships, the largest cooking competition of its kind and hosted by none other than "Man vs. Food" star Adam Richman! Our talented guys and gals each competed in one of five categories - Burger, Sandwich, Side Dish, Chili and Recipe (a general category). And without exception they left us swelling with pride.
"The entire experience, from start to finish was UNBELIEVABLE!" says Melissa Baldan, a San Diego home cook representing Just A Pinch in the Chili competition. "The energy of everyone was out of this world! It was wonderful to meet everyone and a joy to make some new friends! Thanks again to the entire crew! I had a blast!"
Many who attended echoed that same sentiment.
"The best part of the World Food Championships was truly meeting so many of the Just A Pinch cooks that inspire me year round!" exclaimed side dish maven, Merry Graham who also joined Chili competitor Big Bill Wentz as panelist at the event's press conference!
Perhaps the crowning glory of the entire weekend-long festivities was getting to watch three of our deserving home cooks qualify as Finalists in their category: Jackie Mento (Side Dishes), Lori McLain (Sandwiches) and Linda Bonwill (Side Dishes)! Each was awarded $1,000 and received an invitation to prepare a second recipe in the hope of making it to the final round of competition, The Final Table!
It was a blur of activity as all the Just A Pinch cooks pitched in and leant a hand. Our three finalists were ultra prepared - stepping-up to prep their second recipes right there on the spot - and I've never witnessed such teamwork and camaraderie!
In the end, our own Linda Bonwill came out on TOP of the Side Dish category and finished fifth in the competition overall! Her prize winnings totaled more than $10,000 and we couldn't have been any more proud. Not only was she the lone female to make it to the Final Table, but she was also the only non-professional!
When asked how she would spend her winnings, Linda shared that she was looking forward to treating her grandchildren.
“We’re taking my granddaughters to the toy store to pick out whatever new toys they want!” she smiled. “It’s not something we can let them do all the time. We’re really thankful to have had this opportunity.” Once home, that dream came true for Linda and her granddaughters. Linda reported back that of all things, her little Bella picked out an Easy Bake Oven! Looks like there may be another cooking champ in the family!
It is a blessing any time you meet a kindred spirit who shares your passions. It is, however, pure joy to be part of an entire community of such good-hearted people. We look forward to meeting more of you at events like this in the future. Competitor Jackie Mento sums it up perfectly:
"My body was so tired [when I returned home from Las Vegas] that I needed two days to recover. But my mind was racing with new cooking ideas and happy that I have a whole set of new friends. That has to be the best part of an event like this - making new friends. It was awesome to win some money and be recognized for your recipe but making new friends and connections was priceless."
© 2011 Just A Pinch Recipe Club. Used by Permission.
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