Amateur cooking competitions earn an array of awards, from tangible to silly.
A cookbook or a trip to someplace exotic – such as Wichita or Grand Forks – or the moniker of The Best Recipe Ever Created (exclamation point optional, but usually included in those kinds of contests).
Then there are cash payouts, the serious side of cooking contests.
Winning a $10,000 national cook-off award might prompt an apron hangup for some contestants weary of laborious contest rules.
Not Bonney Lake’s Donna Beck, who scored a $10,000 award at last year’s Charleston Wine and Food Festival for a burger recipe she concocted for her teenagers.
Today, the oncology nurse is one of 100 amateur cooks competing at the big daddy of cooking competitions with a million dollar prize – the 47th Pillsbury Bake-Off in Nashville.
She’s entered food competitions only since 2009 but is a second-time contestant for the Pillsbury million-dollar payout.
A funny reverse-order set of circumstances prompted Beck to enter contests.
Instead of mother inspiring daughter to compete, it worked the other way around. Beck’s daughter, Emma Potts, won Red Robin’s 2009 National Kids’ Cook-Off with her Spicy Honey Glazed Bacon Burger.
Here are edited excerpts from a phone interview about Beck’s ride on the amateur contest circuit.
I take those biscuits off and spread them with a pesto cream cheese mixture, then layer with cooked chicken breast, crisp bacon, then peppadew peppers, then cover with another crispy biscuit, then I put it back on the griddle to cook until it’s melted and just right.
I’m really excited to go to Nashville, because I’ve never been there, but I’d really like to win. My son goes to UW and it was a lot to get him there. It’s money worth spending, but it’s a lot of money. Winning would help.
Anyone can do what I have done.