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Cooking Competition Will Decide Delta’s Next Chef

Cooking Competition Will Decide Delta’s Next Chef

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Award-winning chefs will face off this fall to see who will be the next member of the airline’s culinary team

Yesterday, The New York Times announced that Delta Air Lines and Food & Wine "have joined forces" to host a cooking contest entitled "Cabin Pressure Cook-Off," which will determine the next chef who will join the airline’s culinary advisory crew.

Chefs competing in the competition are all members of Food & Wine’s best annual chef program and include Atlanta chefs Hugh Acheson and Linton Hopkins, Kelly English (who owns restaurants in Memphis and St. Louis), and George Mendes from New York.

The chef competition will happen in three parts that are sent to be filmed in New York in late July and early August, and will be promoted later this fall by both Delta and Food & Wine on their respective websites and social media outlets.

The winning chef will join Delta’s existing culinary team that currently includes chef Michelle Bernstein of Miami, Michael Chiarello (who has restaurants in both Napa Valley and San Francisco), and master sommelier Andrea Robinson. The winning chef will consult with Delta on menus for flights departing Atlanta.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

I have a passionate love affair with fried chicken. There is no restaurant or homemade meal that brings me more pleasure. I am on a constant search for the finest fried chicken in the country and have collected dozens of recipes over the years, but this is my absolute favorite. It incorporates all the best ingredients and techniques, and it was created by one of my favorite chefs. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!

Carla Hall is the southern chef who stole our hearts on Top Chef with her infectious joy and “Hooty Hoo” hollers created this killer fried chicken recipe. These days you can find Carla on the set of The Chew, ABC’s daily talk/cooking show. Carla joins Mario Batali, Clinton Kelly, Daphne Oz, and Michael Symon in an hour of joyous celebration of all aspects of entertaining, but the primary focus is definitely food. With Mario and Michael, both Iron Chefs, and Top Chef contestant Carla, there is plenty of talent to thrill the foodie in all of us.

A few months ago there was a fried chicken throw-down on The Chew and Carla’s won, beating Michael Symon’s fantastic entry. That’s some heavy competition and honestly, both were terrific, but Carla’s is a cross between Zuni Café’s famous roasted chicken and my own grandmother’s fried chicken. You can guess which one won in my book!

And speaking of books, Carla has a cookbook you will love. “Cooking with Love: Comfort Food That Hugs You” will definitely be finding a home in my library. You can order it now on Amazon and have it in time to give as holiday gifts to the food lovers in your life.

Today’s recipe utilizes an overnight dry rub that draws out the moisture and then reabsorbs it along with the seasonings, dispersing the flavors throughout the meat. Carla then uses buttermilk as a dip for the chicken giving it the customary tang without making the meat mushy. A final dusting of flour and cornstarch coats the chicken lightly, giving you a perfectly crispy crust. This chicken is about as close to heaven as you can get and still be breathing.

If you are feeding children, you can use the same recipe but make it with chicken tenders or boneless breasts cut into nugget shapes. Dredge and cook as directed, reducing the cooking time accordingly. The small boneless nuggets will cook much faster than bone-in pieces.

I dare you to taste this chicken and not fall instantly in love. If you still think other versions beat this one, I want to hear about them. After all, my goal is to find the very best fried chicken in the world!

Happy frying and as Carla says, “Always Cook with Love”!!

Jane’s Tips and Hints:

If you love fried chicken as much as I do, quadruple the dry rub (1/4 cup each) ingredient and keep it in a jar in your cupboard. Shake well and measure 5 tbsp to make the dry rub each time you make this recipe.

Kitchen Skill: Cooking with Cast Iron

Cast iron cookware has been around for centuries for a good reason nothing heats more evenly or holds heat longer. I still use my grandmother’s cast iron skillets and will pass them to the next generation in my family one day. You can spend a lot of money on enamel-covered cast iron cookware from Le Creuset or Staub, or you can buy old-fashioned pieces from Lodge at a much lower price. Both styles work extremely well but the enamel finish is much easier to maintain and clean. I own both and appreciate each for their unique qualities.

40 Rules You Didn't Know 'MasterChef' Contestants Have To Follow

Think you have what it takes to make it in the MasterChef kitchen? After 10 seasons of the reality cooking competition, we're diving into what truly goes on behind-the-scenes. From 12-hour days to a strict no recipe policy, we've rounded up the juiciest, most surprising rules that even the show's biggest fans probably don't know.

All applicants must be 18 or older. If you don't meet the age requirement, you can always apply for MasterChef Junior.

Since its conception, MasterChef has inspired franchises all around the world. However, to compete on the U.S. version of the show, you must be a legal citizen or permanent resident of the United States.

Sorry, if you're a professional chef or your income comes from cooking or preparing food, you're not allowed to compete.

Aside from some pre-registration online, it's relatively easy to attend an open casting call for MasterChef. You just have to prepare your best dish and bring it in to be sampled by a panel of expert chefs. Piece of cake.

Gordon Ramsay doesn't attend the open calls, but the panel of judges includes people who could give him a run for his money. "The chefs were tasting food and also critiquing, so people were getting critiqued on the spot which was not something I had expected. Then, on top of that, you're also talking to producers who wanna know what your personality is like," former contestant Elise Mayfield told AV Club.

Making sure your dish is the proper temperature before it's served is up to you. Mayfield told AV Club her trick: "So I came in with two insulated lunch bags. One of them was an aluminum foil takeout container and I had a sock&mdasha clean sock!&mdashfull of rice that I had heated up in the microwave, along with these glove warmer things so I had that and a heated bag of rice in the insulated lunch bag."

After your audition, the casting department and producers can take a long time to make their final decisions on the cast. According to Mayfield from season five, it took four months before she got a final decision from production.

Filming for MasterChef takes place in Los Angeles. If you make it to the competition round of the show, that means packing up your knives and heading out west.

Although casting takes months, once you hear back from production, you don&rsquot have a lot of time to get to LA. One season five competitor had just 10 days to pack for Los Angeles after learning she made it on the show.

About 100 applicants make the journey out to Los Angeles and are put up in a hotel by production. After they arrive, there's one more round of auditions and 70 people are sent home. "I was basically told, 'This is not a guarantee that you're on the show, this is not a guarantee you're going to meet the judges, this is a not guarantee of anything. It's just the final audition,'" Mayfield once said.

During the last round of auditions, each prospective contestant has to meet with production's psychologist for a formal evaluation. According to former contestant Jessie Glenn, you are never showed the results, so it's unclear what they are looking for in the evaluation.

Contestants are also required to meet with a private investigator who will perform a background check on you. The investigative meeting felt "invasive," one former contestant said.

When contestants journey to Los Angeles, they have to plan as if they will be gone for the entirety of filming. Producers tell them to pack as if they&rsquoll be gone for a few months and most quit their jobs for the show, while some are lucky enough to just take a leave of absence. "For me, I was really lucky because I was able to keep my job," Mayfield said: "A lot of people really quit their jobs to go to that show,"

Most of the show&rsquos behind-the-scenes secrets will remain secret, as the contestants are required to sign NDAs before officially joining the show. However, there's one contestant who didn't sign the show's tightly bound contract: season three's Jessie Glenn. According to Healthline, Glenn began asking questions when she received the contract and the show didn&rsquot notice she hadn&rsquot signed it until after she was eliminated.

Contestants on the show are put up in a hotel for the duration of filming. Additionally, their transportation and food expenses are paid for by the show.

It All Started With A Board (Of Trello Cards… Not Cheese)

To spice up the team bonding, the Trello team took it a step further by launching the Remote Cooking Challenge and it *obviously* started with a Trello board.

The challenge starts by randomly picking one ingredient per month and then incentivizing people to share recipes or dishes they cooked that month using that specific ingredient. Anyone can add an ingredient to be picked and let’s just say, some very interesting ingredients have been added the past few months. We’re all still wondering what the heck finger limes are. In other words, anyone can easily share their recipes and dishes thanks through Trello cards.

After 6 months of the remote cooking challenge, we’ve concocted a secret sauce to create a successful Trello board. Feel free to copy the Template board and use it to create your own Remote Cooking Challenge board with your fellow foodies!

Step 1: Put In Some Context

As this board can be shared with anyone interested in joining the challenge, make sure that it is self explanatory by giving as much context as possible.

About This Board Section
Thanks to this feature, you can explain what the board is about to newcomers by sharing a succinct description of the goal of the board and remote cooking challenge.

"General" List

The first list can be set as a General list where you can create as many cards as you wish to explain the process of the challenge, state clear instructions, introduce specific features you set on the board, and even list participants.

Step 2: Add A Heavy Pour Of Automation

Since a side project such as a cooking challenge can easily become a side burden, it is important to automate as much as possible within the board.

Card Template
Create a Card Template people can easily copy. You will standardize the process in a click, making the experience more consistent no matter how familiar participants are with Trello.

Random Ingredient Selection
To add some spice to the process we wanted to make sure that ingredients were randomly selected. To do this, we created a list where anyone on the board could add an ingredient of their choice. Then we established a Board Button thanks to Butler, which means when this button is clicked, Butler will automatically (and randomly) select one card from the ‘Ingredients’ list and move it over the ‘Current Month’ list

Due Dates
Add due dates with minimal effort. We set a Butler rule that would automatically add a due date to a card as soon as it is created in a specific list. It is a nice way to remind participants that their recipe is due by the end of the month, without having to manually do it.

Step 3: Sprinkle In Some Collaboration

Over the past 6 months, this board has become not only a meeting point for all participants of the cooking challenge but also an incredible repository of *very* varied recipes. Making sure our virtual collaborative cookbook is easily readable and searchable over time has contributed to its success.

Let your cooking pals know what you think of their recipes or add your own experience of trying the same recipe by commenting on the card— add some flair to your back and forth conversation with emoji reactions.

Move List items
Thanks to the "Move all items in this list" feature, we are able every month to add new recipes every month to the board. It helps us create a collaborative recipe book in only a couple of clicks.

Send out that invite to get that virtual dinner party on the books! Easily invite new members thanks to our “Invite” feature. You can either enter someone's email address and they will directly receive an email invite to your board or just copy the invite link and share it with all the aspiring chefs you know!


Based on an event first arranged in 1983, when the Salon des Métiers de Bouche (Culinary Sector Exhibition and Trade Fair, later renamed Salon international de la restauration de l'hôtellerie et de l'alimentation, SIRHA) took place in Lyon as "an exhibition organised by professionals for professionals". Paul Bocuse, appointed Honorary President of the exhibition, conceived the idea of a culinary competition to take place during the exhibition, with preparation of all dishes taking place live in front of an audience. Several gastronomy contests were already in existence, however none of them presented a "live performance" and consequently one could not actually see the work performed in the kitchens of the chefs' restaurants. [13]

The initial Bocuse d'Or took place in January 1987. [14] The SIRHA, having grown to become one of the biggest and most sophisticated food and culinary arts fairs in the world, [15] also arranges other contests of culinary skill, including the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie (World Pastry Cup) and in recent years Mondial du Pain (World of Bread Contest).

The audience atmosphere of the Bocuse d'Or evolved in 1997 when the support for the Mexican candidate included a mariachi band, foghorns, cowbells, cheering and yelling from the stands, marking the beginning of a tradition of noisy spectator presence. [16] At first, the reigning champion nation was not permitted to participate in the following contest, but that rule was removed after the 1999 event when France was competing and did not win gold for the first time. [16]

France, the invariable home team, has won gold on six occasions, while Belgium, Norway and Sweden have consistently finished in one of the top three placements. [1] [11] [17] Léa Linster of Luxembourg became the first woman to win in 1989, and Rasmus Kofoed of Denmark became the first multiple medalist with bronze and silver in 2005 and 2007, and the eventual gold medal in 2011. [18] Prior to finishing in second place in 2015 and winning the competition in 2017, [19] the U.S. team had not placed higher than sixth as in 2003 and 2009, [5] [7] [11] [20] [21] while the highest ranking of a North American chef was the fourth-place result of Canadian Robert Sulatycky in 1999. [1] [22]

The 2007 Bocuse d'Or was featured in the documentary film, El Pollo, el Pez, y el Cangrejo Real. [5] The U.S. effort leading up to the 2009 Bocuse d'Or is the subject of the book Knives at Dawn. [23]

The U.S. won second place in 2015 when Philip Tessier and Skylar Stover made history by becoming both the first Americans to mount the podium as well as the first non-European team to win silver. Coached by Gavin Kaysen, Thomas Keller, Jerome Bocuse and Daniel Boulud, this was an extraordinary milestone for a country that had competed every year since the competitions inception in 1987. [24] In 2017 the U.S. won the competition, finishing ahead of Norway in second place and Iceland in third. The team's head chef was Mathew Peters and his commis, or helper, was Harrison Turone. Both had previously worked at Keller's New York City restaurant Per Se. [25]

Semi-finals Edit

After its 20th anniversary, the format was expanded, with the first Bocuse d'Or Asia contest taking place in May 2008 in Shanghai and Bocuse d'Or Europe in July 2008 in Stavanger. The inaugural winners were Yasuji Sasaki from Japan and Geir Skeie of Norway, respectively. [26] Skeie went on to win the 2009 world final. [17] [27] [28] [29]

The inaugural Bocuse d'Or USA competition took place at Epcot in September 2008, and an escalated effort followed with Team USA provided with a preparation budget near $500,000 ahead of the 2009 finals, citing that many European nations often have budgets of more than $1 million. Team USA was represented by Timothy Hollingsworth, then sous-chef at French Laundry, coached by Roland Henin. [5] [7] [11] [30] [31] Paul Bocuse stated, "I hope [the U.S. team] will win because we'd really like this competition to cross the Atlantic". [21] Ultimately, Hollingsworth also placed sixth. [27] [29]

The Bocuse d'Or USA 2010 took place at the earlier February 2010 date arranged at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. The winner was James Kent who represented Team USA in Lyon in 2011, eventually placing tenth. [32] [33] [34] The Bocuse d'Or Asia 2010 was again arranged in Shanghai in March 2010, won by the Malaysian all-women team of See Lay Na. [35] [36] The Bocuse d'Or Europe 2010 arranged in Geneva in June 2010 was won by Danish previous Bocuse d'Or bronze and silver medalist Rasmus Kofoed, [37] who went on to win the 2011 world final. [18]

Ahead of the Bocuse d'Or 2013, the Bocuse d'Or USA regional final was arranged in late January 2012 again at The Culinary Institute of America, Richard Rosendale becoming the selected U.S. contestant, [38] while the Bocuse d'Or Europe was arranged in Brussels in late March 2012 with the gold medal won by Norwegian chef Ørjan Johannessen. [39] The Bocuse d'Or Asia taking place in June 2012, again in Shanghai, was won by Yew Eng Tong representing Singapore. [40]

Criticism Edit

For the 2005 Bocuse d'Or, the Spanish delegation had chosen an innovative presentation inspired by Salvador Dalí motifs for the fish course a serving vessel in the shape of a one-meter-high crystal egg, as a part of an ambitious campaign at the cost of near €1 million to achieve a good result in the competition. [41] However, the Spanish candidate finished in the next to last place (a cited reason was that the warm dish produced such condensation to the inside of the egg that the judges were nearly unable to see the presentation), producing heated reactions from the Spanish delegation who called the jury old-fashioned and outdated, [41] and members of the Spanish media who claimed that the chauvinistic jury despised the creativity of Spanish cooking and called the Bocuse d'Or a competition for buffet and catering. [42] [43]

Controversy arose during the 2007 Bocuse d'Or, as allegations of cheating were raised against the winning chef Fabrice Desvignes, due to the late delivery of two metal containers leading to claims that these contained prepared precooked ingredients. [44] A contest director responded that the containers were delivered to Desvignes two minutes before he started work because snow delayed their overnight arrival, and these contained silverware and foie gras, not prohibited by the rules. [16] Two days later the German daily newspaper Die Welt published the article "Gourmet-Skandal: Ist der weltbeste Koch wirklich ein Franzose?" (Gourmet Scandal: Is the World's Best Chef Really a Frenchman?), featuring testimony by the German assistant chef Khabbaz Hicham who described four men that brought black crates with prepared and semi-prepared ingredients, an hour and thirty minutes into the competition. [45] [46] [47] [48] [49] The controversy led to amendments to the rules for future Bocuse d'Or contests, with the addition of a Kitchen Supervising Committee to control the candidate products and equipment.

The qualification format has seen changes over the years, with a restructured scheme ahead of the 2009 Bocuse d'Or. 24 countries compete in the world finals, having achieved entry through different means: The top 12 finalists of the Bocuse d'Or Europe qualify, from a pool of 20 nations the top 4 finalists of Bocuse d'Or Asia qualify, from a pool of 12 nations the top 3 finalists of the Copa Azteca Latin American competition qualify, from a pool of 12 nations. Furthermore, 3 entrants are selected from national application, as well as 2 wild card selections.

Each team consists of two chefs, one lead chef, and a commis/assistant chef who must be under 22 years of age at the time of the competition. [2] [21] The team has 5 hours and 35 minutes to prepare two elaborate presentations, a meat dish and a fish dish. [4] [5] [21] [50] [51] Taking place in an open "culinary theatre", fully equipped kitchens are lined up side by side, facing an area for the jury, members of the press and audiences, [10] with spectator numbers limited to ca. 1,000 people. [41] From the 2009 contest, a designated coach located on the outside of the kitchen area is permitted to communicate with the team. [52] Also as of 2009, inspectors control equipment and products the backstage zone, as no vegetables may be pre-cut, although teams may pre-peel garlic, portion oil, salt, flour and other ingredients, and bring stocks made in advance. [53]

The jury consists of 24 renowned chef judges who make their evaluations based on the level of perfection in the presentation, in terms of technical skill, cooking sophistication, creativity and visual beauty. The jury is divided into two groups of 12, each half to judge either the fish dish or the meat dish. [52] The food's quality determines two-thirds of the score, 40 points presentation determines 20 points. In the event of a tie, another 20 points will be awarded based on factors such as organization, teamwork, cleanliness and lack of waste. [21] Judges have included Heston Blumenthal, Ferran Adrià, Wolfgang Puck, [1] Eyvind Hellstrøm, Thomas Keller and past winners such as Fabrice Desvignes, Mathias Dahlgren and Léa Linster.

The chef with the highest overall score is awarded the Bocuse d'Or trophy, a golden effigy of Paul Bocuse in his chef's outfit, [21] receiving the grand prize of €20,000. The Silver Bocuse medalist receives €15,000, and the Bronze Bocuse medalist receives €10,000. [5] [51] Additional prizes are awarded for the best fish and meat dishes, best national culinary identity, best apprentice and best posters. [10]

2013 rule changes Edit

Ahead of the 2013 event, a set of alterations to the rules were announced in November 2012. In contrast to previous years when the fish and meat themes were announced six months ahead of the finals, the announcement of the fish theme was withheld until two months before the competition in order to "encourage the chefs to display even more creativity and spontaneity." [54] At this time, other changes were announced concerning the allowed condiments, that "on the eve of the contest, the candidates will have 30 minutes to choose seasonal fruit and vegetables from the five continents market" to prepare two of the three garnishes in the contest, and the third garnish would be "typical of the candidates’ respective countries," with an aim to "highlight the different national culinary heritages and encourage diversity". [54]

Further changes describe that the candidates with their coach and commis, having acquired the ingredients, "will have one hour in which to design and write down the recipe for their dish". [54] Finally, the competitions depart from the large tray presentation format of previous years as the candidates this time are required to prepare fourteen plates "in order to remain close to the actual restaurant environment." [54]

Mississippi Delta Hot Tamales

Yield Makes approximately 4 dozen tamales

  • shellfish-free
  • tree-nut-free
  • fish-free
  • alcohol-free
  • soy-free
  • egg-free
  • peanut-free
  • Calories 381
  • Fat 25.8 g (39.7%)
  • Saturated 10.5 g (52.3%)
  • Carbs 19.5 g (6.5%)
  • Fiber 1.8 g (7.2%)
  • Sugars 0.7 g
  • Protein 17.7 g (35.3%)
  • Sodium 246.2 mg (10.3%)


For the filling:

Neutral cooking oil, such as canola or safflower

onions, peeled and cut into thick slices

garlic, smashed and peeled

ground cumin (preferably from toasted cumin seeds)

cayenne pepper, or to taste

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the tamales:

(16 ounce) bag dried corn husks

For the masa dough:

(2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

plus 1 teaspoon baking powder

masa harina (dried masa flour for tamales), preferably Maseca brand

Chicken, pork, or vegetable stock, as needed

For serving:

Mexican crema or sour cream


To prepare the filling, first heat a few tablespoons cooking oil in a large Dutch over medium-high to high heat. Pat the pork dry and season generously with salt and pepper. When the oil is shimmering, add the pork (cut in half and working in two batches if necessary to fit in your pan) and sear until crisp and golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Remove the meat and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and cook for another 30 to 60 seconds.

Return the pork to the skillet and add enough stock to come approximately three quarters up the sides of the meat. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until the meat is very tender and falls apart easily when pulled with a fork, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Turn off heat and set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove and discard any skin and large chunks of fat. Shred the remaining meat and transfer to a large bowl.

Strain the cooking liquid, discarding the solids. Ladle enough remaining liquid over the meat to make it juicy but not runny. Taste and adjust seasoning. (If making the filling in advance I like to add a drizzle of canola oil to the meat after bringing to room temperature, as fat in the filling ensures the cooked tamale stays rich and moist.)

To prepare the dried corn husks for the tamales, fill a very large bowl — I use my large tamale pot — or kitchen sink with hot water. Add the husks, placing a heavy pot or weight on them to keep submerged. Soak until they are soft and pliable, a minimum of one hour alternately you can soak them in cool water overnight. Rinse the husks to remove any dust and hold them in a large mixing bowl covered with a clean, damp towel. (Husks can be re-soaked if necessary.)

To make the dough, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream on medium-high speed for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add the baking powder and salt. Start adding the masa harina to the butter mixture, adding a few glugs of stock (about 1/4 cup) after every cup or so of masa. Stop the mixer occasionally to feel the texture of the dough — it should feel light, airy, and slightly sticky, almost like grainy mashed potatoes adjust ingredients as necessary until this texture is reached. Turn the mixer to high and continue beating for 1 to 2 minutes, then test the dough for doneness. Drop a couple pea-sized balls into a cup of cold tap water. If it is ready the balls will float to the top. If they sink, add a splash of stock and continue beating to incorporate more air into the mixture. Test dough again before moving forward. (The dough can be refrigerated at this point. Return to stand mixer and beat for a few minutes before using.)

To assemble the tamales, carefully remove a single corn husk from the water and pat quite dry. Flatten the husk, rough side down, on a clean work surface so that it runs horizontal to the counter. Using a spring-form ice cream scoop or measuring cup (for consistency when measuring), drop the dough onto the lower portion of the wide end of the husk. Use your fingers or an offset spatula to press the dough into an even rectangle about a 1/4-inch thick and leaving a 1/2-inch border at the wide edge. (If the dough feels too moist, dip your fingers in a bowl of masa to prevent sticking.)

Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture in a fairly thin line down the center of the dough. Carefully roll the husk away from yourself so the bottom edge of dough meets the top edge of dough. Gently press the seam to seal, using a pinch of additional dough as "glue" if necessary. (Any gaps in the seam can allow filling, i.e. moisture, to escape while steaming.) Once sealed, roll the husk sushi-style to form a tight cylinder. Tuck the thin bottom end under and tie the folded end with kitchen twine if desired. Stack the tamales on a sheet pan and repeat until all dough and filling is used. (If multiple people are making tamales it can be more efficient to work assembly line-style, i.e. one person dries husk, one spreads dough, one fills, one ties, and so on.)

To steam the tamales, fill a large tamale pot or stock pot fitted with a steamer basket with enough water to reach just below the insert and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low heat so that the water is gently simmering but not boiling. Cover the holes in the insert with a few extra corn husks to help concentrate the heat. Arrange the tamales upright in the pot (like skyscrapers) with the open end pointing up, folded side towards the water. Continue arranging until the tamales are firmly packed but not overcrowding the pot, allowing some room for the dough to expand. Cover the tamales with additional husks and place a lid on the pot.

Steam the tamales, monitoring the heat to ensure the water simmering and the pot has not gone dry. (You can place a few pennies in the water of the steamer basket — if you start hearing them rattle, the water is getting low.) Cook the tamales for 1 to 1 1/2 hours to check for doneness, remove a tamale and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes to rest. If the dough firms up and the husk easily peels away from the masa it is done. For firmer tamales, remove from the pot, cover with a dish towel, and rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. For softer tamales, take the pot off the heat. Remove the lid and discard the extra corn husks draped over the tamales and covering the holes in the insert (just stick tongs down towards the bottom to pull them out). Let tamales rest in the pot for 5 to 10 minutes before removing to serve. After removing tamales, reserve a few cups of cooking liquid and set aside.

Serve tamales warm in their husks, discarding husks before eating. For moister tamales, drizzle a few teaspoons of reserved cooking liquid over the top. Serve with Mexican creme, salsa verde, and hot sauce.

5 Mealime Meal Plans & Recipes

Mealime keeps it simple in the kitchen for iOS and Android users. Each recipe tells users how much time it should take and comes with a cooking list so that users know what to grab from the store. But the app doesn't just come with thousands of recipes, it's also a meal-planning service.

Users can create a meal plan with over 600 customizations, including allergies, restrictions, likes, dislikes, and how many people the recipe should feed. Once users select a meal plan that works for them (or even just a recipe), a shopping list is created, which allows users to check off what they already have or have bought. It's perfect for foodies and cooking beginners alike.

Local high school student wins state cooking competition and now he’s headed to nationals

AMMON — An Ammon high school student learned the benefits of pushing himself when he decided to enter a statewide cooking competition and won.

Thunder Ridge High School senior Paxton Webster earned the top spot in the Family Career Community Leaders of America cooking competition. He will be heading to Tennessee in late June to represent Idaho in the national competition.

Even though Paxton joined the competition just for fun, cooking has been a part of his life for years. He claims he has been pursuing cooking as a hobby since he was 12, but has fond memories of watching Rachel Ray and getting his hands dirty in the cooking process even before that.

“We used to make mud pies in the backyard with pots and pans with all my cousins,” Paxton tells “I was always told mine were the prettiest.”

When he turned 12, he moved his experiments from the mud to the kitchen, something his mom, Kami Webster, didn’t approve of at first because of the giant messes he would leave behind. They eventually came to a cleanliness understanding.

“Once he got a little older, (I) and my husband would go on our date night, and Paxton would be the one who wanted to cook dinner because he would try to get this mess all cleaned up before I got home,” she said. “He’s amazing. He just uses a lot of dishes.”

But no mess could prevent Paxton from spending time around food.

“I’ve always liked cooking more because I like eating,” he said. “So that’s probably where my love of cooking started.”

Cooking took on another dimension when he met his teacher, Brenda Williams. In her class, he began to see a scientific side of cooking, which intrigued him even more. Paxton was excited when Williams asked him to participate in the FCCLA competition.

“I thought Paxton was a perfect candidate,” Williams explained. “He’s just a driven person. He just goes about his work and and he loves it.”

She explained that FCCLA is an organization that is designed to help students with leadership qualities in anything associated with family consumer sciences, like culinary arts. Williams has had multiple students enter in the past, and some even qualifying for the national competition, but Paxton is her first student to take first place for Idaho.

The competition is normally held in person, but this year, due to COVID-19, participants were given a recipe and had to record a video of themselves preparing it. Judges rated each dish based on a number of criteria. Among them were how students prepared each product, how the chef handled themselves in the kitchen, their knife cuts, their presentation, whether everything was done in a sanitary manner and was cooked properly.

Paxton chose to cook a chicken breast, mashed potatoes, a braised zucchini with tomatoes and onion and a mushroom sauce.

When it came time to announce the winners of the Idaho competition, Paxton wasn’t expecting anything. The winners were announced in a PowerPoint presentation, and when he saw that his name was listed with the words “First Place,” he didn’t have enough time to process it before the slide moved over to the next item.

“I’m sitting there with a couple of other kids and a teacher and was like ‘Did I just win?'” he explained.

After reaching out to the FCCLA for confirmation, it was clear that Paxton had indeed won and was going to nationals.

Paxton has already submitted his video for the national competition, but he’ll be attending in person because he was invited to a convention and award ceremony on July 1st.

Despite his passion for cooking, Paxton sees it as a hobby and is hoping to become a doctor one day. In fact, he recently got his CNA through the College of Eastern Idaho

“I really like to help people, and I just think (medicine) is really interesting,” he said. “I’m just going to go be a doctor and have a giant kitchen and then I’ll be able to eat whatever I cook.”

But according to Paxton’s mom, it isn’t surprising for Paxton to be involved in many different activities, and do pretty well at all of them.

In addition to all he’s accomplished, he also served as his student body vice president and plays on the school golf team.

“He does a lot of cool stuff that he would never tell you that he does,” Kami said. “He’s a pretty cool kid.”

Get the Recipes for Jeff’s Rub and Sauce

My recipe for rub is not just great on ribs and pork but, as many of you know, it holds its own very well on all types of poultry including these smoked chicken halves. I used my original rub on the bottom (meaty side) and my new Texas style rub on the skin side and I can tell you that it’s a marriage made in Heaven!

I promise you’ll love my dry rub/seasoning recipe and my barbecue sauce recipe or you don’t pay!

Reasons to buy: Support the newsletter and the website | Own “the recipes” | Get the email newsletter 100% AD FREE from now on | Includes the Texas style rub recipe

To cut a chicken in half, it is easiest to first remove the backbone.

Simply use some kitchen shears and cut along both sides of the backbone.

You will then be able to open the chicken up like a book.

I like to remove the keel bone and I think it makes for better end product. To do so, make a slight cut as shown:

Once you make this cut, press the chicken downward and the cartilage you just cut into will break open revealing the keel bone.

Slide your fingers along both sides of the keel bone, pressing down to break the membrane.

Pull up on the keel bone to free it from the chicken. If it breaks, no big deal.

Here is the keel bone removed:

Now, simply cut the chicken in half and you are good to go.

Here is a video that I made a while back that shows me removing the keel bone in another (not so fortunate) chicken:

To brine chicken, you place it in a saltwater solution for several hours. A highly complicated scientific process takes place that causes the salt water and some of whatever else is in the brine, to be drawn into the meat of the chicken.

I have been brining chicken and other poultry for years, even before it was well known and I am telling you that it is the secret to juicy, moist chicken.

Here's my really basic recipe for brine:

  • 1 cup kosher salt (kosher salt dissolves better than other course salts but you can also use pickling salt if it's all you have)
  • 1 gallon of water
  • ¾ cup of brown sugar

Place the salt and the sugar into the gallon of water and stir until everything is dissolved really well.

Put the chicken into a large Ziploc bag or a large plastic or glass bowl with a lid and pour the brine over it until the chicken is completely covered.

Close up the bag or container and place it in the fridge for about 3 hours.

When the chicken is finished brining, give it a really good rinse under cold water to remove any excess salt.

After the chicken is rinsed from the brining, lay it on the cutting board or other flat surface and coat it generously with my rub.

Let it sit there for about 15 minutes or so and you'll notice that the little bit of salt in my rub recipe starts drawing some of the juice of the chicken to the surface. the juices mix with the rub and create a natural paste of goodness.

It's look like this when it's ready to turn over and rub the other side.

Note: I decided to put my original rib rub on the meat side of the chicken and my new Texas style rub on the skin side but you don't have to just because I did. I thought the two rubs worked really well together. I have often just used my original rib rub on both sides and it is also very, very good.

Turn the chicken over and coat the skin side generously with rub.

My Texas style rub recipe calls for a little more salt per tablespoon than the original rib rub so you may want to use it slightly less generously if you try it. These pictures should help you gauge how much to use.

The chicken is now ready to smoke so leave the chicken halves right there while you go get things set up.

Set up your smoker for cooking at about 225°F but you can also go as high as 275 °F or so if you want to. I like to start out on the low side then crank it up at the end to help crisp up the skin just a little.

Some smokers “crank up” better than others so just do what you can do with your particular smoker and it will turn out just fine.

Make sure to have enough smoking wood handy to keep the smoke going for at least 2 hours. You can also just keep the smoke flowing for the entire time. If you are using a wood smoker, obviously the smoke is there by default.

Place the chicken directly on the grate or use a Bradley rack for a great way to transport the chicken to and from the smoker. If your smoker grates are big enough, you can just lay the Bradley rack right on the grate.

Smoke the chicken with indirect heat for about 3 hours or until it reaches 165 °F in the thickest part of the leg or thigh.

If your smoker has a water pan, use it.

Note: I get asked a lot about smoking on the Big Green Egg and other ceramic cookers. All of my recipes, unless otherwise stated, require a platesetter or similar device to create an indirect cooking method.

Serve the chicken right away by giving each person their own smoked chicken half.

  • If your smoker is capable of hitting temperatures near 275-300°F , you can definitely get chicken done a lot faster and help to crisp up the skin. The downside to this is that it limits the time with the smoke reducing the smoke flavor, and you have to watch the rub to make sure it does not burn.
  • If you want to take the time to do it, a lot of flavor can be had by mixing rub with olive oil and sucking some of it up in a turkey baster. Squirt the oily rub up under the skin.

***Note: you get the Texas style rub recipe free with your order!

If I could give these recipes away, I would do that. I really want you to have them! But, then, this is how I support the newsletter, the website and all of the other stuff that we do here to promote the art of smoking meat.

Read these recent testimonies:

You see the raving testimonies and you wonder, "Can the recipes really be that good?"

No worries! Make up a batch and if it's not as good as you've heard.. simply ask for a refund. Now that's a bargain and you know it. Let's review:

  • You decide you don't like the recipes.. you don't pay!
  • The recipes are absolutely amazing!
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Well.. what are you waiting for.. click on the big orange button below to order the recipes now.

I really, really appreciate the support from my newsletter friends and be sure to let me know if you have any questions about this.

The book is full of recipes and contains tons of helpful information as well. Some have even said that "no smoker should be without this book"!

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Norway Wins the Bocuse d’Or Competition

After a two-day marathon of cooking and judging that pitted chefs from 24 countries against each other, the chef from Norway won the Bocuse d'Or, the cooking competition known as the Olympics of Food.

The Swede took the silver, the Frenchman the bronze and the American came in sixth.

Paul Bocuse, who created the competition in his name 22 years ago, and many of the top chefs here, both French and foreign, were rooting for the American team to get the gold. American victory would insure more American interest, investment and validation of the award.

But Timothy Hollingsworth, the 28-year-old American chef who is the sous-chef at the Napa Valley restaurant, French Laundry, did not fulfill his hopes.

In the previous 11 contests since 1987, a Frenchman has won the gold medal six times, a Norwegian three. Sweden and Luxembourg both won once. The Americans have never even won the silver or bronze the best an American placed was sixth in 2005.

Geir Skeie, the 28-year-old chef at Mathuset Solvold in Sandefjord, Norway, will go home with a trophy of a golden effigy of Mr. Bocuse in his chef's outfit and 20,000 euros, about $26,000.

In a bittersweet irony for Thomas Keller, the American judge and Mr. Hollingsworth's boss, the Swede, Jonas Lundgren, who works at the three-star Paris restaurant Pierre Gagnaire, worked before that at the French Laundry. In the official press packet, he credited Mr. Keller as one of the sources of his culinary inspiration.

The most bitter disappointment was felt by France. Philippe Mille, the 34-year-old Frenchman who is the sous-chef at the three-star Paris restaurant Le Meurice, was a strong candidate, and many expected him to win. But his fish dish came out a minute late, which cost the French team 12 points in the scoring, according to a text message from his boss, three-star chef Yannick Alléno.

This year for the first time, the American team made a major effort to win the competition, with Mr. Bocuse enlisting Thomas Keller, chef of the French Laundry and of Per Se, in Manhattan, as the team's president. Mr. Bocuse also arranged for Daniel Boulud, of Daniel and other renowned New York restaurants, to be the contest's honorary president.

The team raised $500,000 and Mr. Hollingsworth was given a paid leave from the restaurant for more than three months. He trained 40 to 50 hours a week in a replica of the kitchen cubicle he would use in Lyon. He was coached by the chef Roland Henin, Mr. Keller's mentor.

But in the end, the other teams were simply stronger this year.

The Norwegian team's seafood creation included a loin of cod with lightly smoked scallop and cod belly, green pea spheres and brandade, a Playmobile-like construction of peas, prawns and onions red beet cube with Jerusalem artichokes and black truffles potato and leek with quail egg and reisling and horseradish emulsion.

For its meat creation, it served beef ribs with duck foie gras tenderloin with black truffles and oxtail with celeriac parsley root with spinach and glazed ox cheek green beans and artichokes a brown onion pyramid potato, black truffle and bone marrow and beef reduction with bay leaf and parsley.

For its seafood entry, the French team prepared a fillet cod garnished with citrus domes of prawns in Biarritz herbs cones of leeks and baby squid with sea urchin roe and tarts with scallops and baby spinach topped with a layer of caviar. The female commentator for the competition called the French seafood platter" beautiful," adding that it had "a lot of sharp angles. It looks dangerous and delicate at the same time."

For its meat entry, the French team presented a rib steak with barbecued grilled foie gras fillet of beef with tiny garden vegetables a three-dimensional angular creation of oxtail and caramelized celery braised beef cheeks with carrot topiary and a miniature shrub of leeks.

The meat dish, a tribute to André Le Nôtre, was aimed at evoking a French formal garden.

For its seafood entry, the American team played it safe. It prepared an olive oil poached loin of cod enveloped on scallop mousse, preserved Meyer lemon and Sicilian pistachios with citrus mousseline and shrimp nage. A poached cod -- a classic -- allows the chef to easily control the temperature and helps keeps the fish moist.

It also presented wild prawn and Haas avocado tarts with fennel compote, chili peppers and yuzu gelee agrumato custard with shellfish bouillon and candied orange zest and Yukon gold potato and bacon mille-feuille, with crème-fraiche-enriched King Richard Leeks, Hobbs bacon chip and a large dollop of Sacramento Delta Osetra caviar.

For its meat entry, it presented roasted beef rib-eye wrapped in applewood smoked bacon with prune-enriched oxtail jus rosette of Scottish beef fillet with Perigord truffles, celeriac and oxtail-endive marmalade glazed beef cheeks à lɾtouffeé with garden turnips and sweet carrots grown in the garden of the French Laundry, the Napa Valley restaurant where Mr. Hollingsworth works calotte bresaola fumé à la minute with granny smith apples, savoy cabbage and horseradish mousse and truffled pommes Dauphinoise with California chestnuts, pickled red onion and celery brunch salad.

One component of the American beef dish was presented in stemmed crystal globes illuminated from below.

The judging follows a complex system. Twenty-four judges from 24 countries serve on either a meat or a fish jury. The highest and lowest scores given to each chef are disregarded and the rest are tallied to determine scores.

The quality of the food determines two-thirds of the score, 40 points presentation counts for 20 points. If there is a tie, another 20 points will be awarded based on factors like organization, teamwork, cleanliness and a lack of waste.

But judging on taste can be challenging, as it can take between eight to fifteen minutes between the time the food moves from their grand platters to the plates of the judges.

In between, the platters have to be showed to the judges, photographed and divided into individual portions for judging.

Cultural differences between the United States and France were on display in the kitchens of their chefs.

Mr. Hollingsworth, did squats and arm stretches to loosen up before the competition began Mr. Mille, paced the kitchen, rubbed his hands, adjusted his pants and retied his apron.

As the second and final day of the Bocuse d'Or cooking unfolded, the work of the American and French teams reflected their different approaches to the blood sport of competitive cooking.

In their identical kitchens here, Mr. Hollingsworth was a work horse, slicing his oxtail and chopping his onions with strength and deliberation.

His 22-year-old "commis" (assistant), Adina Guest, used even more effort, putting her entire body, it seemed, into the coring of every carrot slice.

Mr. Mille, by contrast, was a race horse, rolling cold, brown pastry dough and filleting his cod with speed, grace and the absence of wasted movement. The head came off in ten seconds. His assistant seemed almost non-existent.

The American team was guided by a typed schedule divided into fifteen-minute segments of instructions for each of them that was taped to a wall.

At 3:35 p.m., for example, Ms. Guest's order was "Heat chestnut puree" while Mr. Hollingworth's was "Assemble smoke balls."

The French chef kept his kitchen sparse, continually wiping the counters and leaving any ingredient that was not about to be used immediately out of sight.

"He anticipates his next gesture," said Jean-Marie Gautier, the French coach renowned as a culinary trainer as much as he is as a chef. Asked why he didn't have a schedule taped to the wall as a guide, Mr. Gautier replied, "It's all in his head. At this level, it better be in your head."


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