This past weekend held the Hood New England Cook-Off Event sponsored by Hood and Shaw’s at the Convention Center in Providence RI. It was a privilege to participate as a blogger in this amazing event. There were over 1000 recipes entered and the top 30 semi-finalist heated up their pans, decorated their plates and then stood before the panel of judges sharing their story about what inspired them to create their recipes. Each recipe and presentation was so unique, all having their own personal signature. As a blogger, tasting most of the recipes myself, I certainly enjoyed more than one plate in each category. With the scores between each contestant being so close, you knew that the judges felt the same way, but, there could only be one winner in each category.
Five winners were chosen to compete in the final cook-off! The neat thing was there was one winner from each state.
- Jean Dziedzinski from Chelmsford, MA making the Late Summer Layered Crustless quiche
- Kevin Towele from Gonic, NH making the Heaven and Hell Chowder
- Forrest White from Williston, Vt making Acorn Squash ‘n’ Blossom Fritter Vichyssoise Shooter
- William Gillard of Damariscotta, ME who was making Ocean Bounty Creamery
- Mary Jo Fletcher LaRocco from North Kingston, RI making Cranberry Limoncello Tarts in a Gingersnap Hazelnut Crust
The room was filled with excitement and now humor when the host of “TV Diner”, Billy Costna took the floor! What a character he is indeed. He brought laughter to the room which I think helped calm some jitters from the contestants. The clock began with the ring of the cowbell, one hour was all they had to prepare, create and plate their recipe before the panel of five professional food experts. When their dish was completed, each contestant described their dish to the panel and shared what Hood ingredients were included in the recipe. The scoring was based on presentation, taste and creativity.
The contestants lined up in front of the room waiting for Billy to announce third place, then second place, then the final winner. I looked at who I guessed would be the winner and saw her look of insecurity of not knowing if her recipe was going to be the winning recipe. I focused my eyes on her and loved the reaction of her emotion when her name was called out! Mary Jo held the title, “Winner of the 2012 New England Cook-Off Event”. She also held the giant check of $10,000!
Her husband and little boy who were present in her entire journey, stood next to me and I was glad to share in their excitement! $10,000!!!!! What a feeling! What a thrill! What a day!
I’d like to say congratulations to all of the contestants! It was wonderful meeting all of you, your food and presentations were inspiring! I’d like to add that no one went home empty handed, the runner-ups each received a check for a well deserved $500. To all the judges, hosts and co-hosts it was a pleasure being in your company. I was honored to meet all those who participated with Hood and thanks to Carly and the crew for helping to organize such a memorable event and making me a part of it as well.
To see the winning recipe and download more fabulous recipes head HERE to the HOOD Cook-Off Page
Disclosure: I did participate in this event for free with other bloggers but all opinions in this event are my own.