I Judged a Cooking Contest!

Extended Stay America Cooking Contest Winner

One of the things I love about being a devoted (ok, obsessive) home cook is that I never have to eat bad food. I don’t mean this in an “all my food is perfect” kind of way, it’s just that with a stocked pantry and a strong will to cook, I’m almost always able to prepare, then eat, what I want. If I don’t know what I want, I stick a grilled cheese in the frying pan and a meal is made.

Not so when I’m on the road. Over the summer, I showed you the minimalist polenta dishes I’d make if I were staying in a hotel with an actual kitchen, and last week I got the chance to taste and rate four home cook’s versions of their own best home-away-from-home meals.

They were competing in Extended Stay America’s Away from Home Cooking Contest, and I was one of four judges. Sunny Anderson from the Food Network was hosting, and she bounced from room to room, helping the contestants to get their meals on the table. Over in the judging room, we feasted on:

  • Savory Sweet Potato Salad
  • Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Spinach-Apple-Honey Mustard Sauce and Rosemary New Potatoes
  • Spiced Apricot Glazed Pork Chops
  • Baja Fish Taco Tortas with Smoky Cilantro Slaw
I was so impressed by how all the dishes turned out, but what I loved even more was hearing about each participant’s angle on cooking: the tricks they’d learned as they made dinner for themselves and their families, and how they got to be finalists in a cooking contest. Watch the video below to see what everyone made and find out which dish won!

This post is sponsored by Extended Stay America. If you share the video, use the #cookwithESA hashtag. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that keep Big Girls, Small Kitchen delicious!

Posted in: Musings
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