Midwestern Regional Winners
Episode 206 Midwestern - B From left to right,
Judge Chef Damian Mandola; Contestants Janet Moore and Robert Whitt;
Judge Suzanne Rogers; Contestant Camilla Saulsbury; and Host Gary Rhodes
Contestant: Janet Moore
From: Haslett, Michigan
Occupation: Retired
Interests (Other than cooking): Golfing, Crocheting, Volunteer work, Traveling, Spending time with our grandchildren
Ever won a cooking contest: No
How would a close friend describe your personality and your approach to cooking? "Cooking is Janet's passion. She welcomes her guests and makes them feel comfortable and relaxed. It is a toss-up who has the most enjoyment, the cook or the guests."
Greatest cooking influence: I used to watch Julia Child, but working full time and the demands of raising children prevented me from putting her teachings to work. I currently like Sara Moulton and Martha Stewart.
Favorite cookbook: The New Cookbook by Better Homes & Gardens was my favorite. I have since graduated to Cooks Illustrated which has become my cooking bible.
Favorite kitchen utensil: My 8" filet knife is what I use the most, although a spatula serves a multitude of purposes.
Favorite vegetable: Asparagus. I like it steamed but still a little crunchy with only a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese or a squeeze of lemon juice. At the moment, because they are growing in the garden, I favor eggplant. I make stuffed eggplant boats, fried eggplant, eggplant parmesan, stewed eggplant, and eggplant dip (Baba Ghanoug)
Contestant: Kalyan Dutta
From: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Occupation: Engineer
Interests (Other than cooking): Collecting classic automobiles
Ever won a cooking contest: Runner-up prizes from Whole Foods Inc., and Sutter Home Winery recipe contests.
How would a close friend describe your personality and your approach to cooking? Enthusiastic, outgoing, and funny. My cooking style, however, would be described as creative, spontaneous, and unpredictable.
Greatest cooking influence: My wife who cannot cook! The vision of a lifetime of starvation or carry-out meals was a powerful motivator in accelerating my own culinary training.
Favorite cookbook: CookWise by Shirley Corrither. It's not exactly a cookbook, however, her explanation of the chemistry of food has enable me to become a more consistent cook and "push the envelope" with original creations.
Favorite kitchen utensil: The dishwasher … I hate cleaning up!
Favorite vegetable: Asparagus. I have only recently discovered the sublime flavor of asparagus roasted with olive oil and lemon juice.
Contestant: Robert A. Whitt
From: Indianapolis, Indiana
Occupation: President, Commercial Real Estate Firm
Interests (Other than cooking): Wine collecting, Magic, Travel, Sports
Ever won a cooking contest: No
How would a close friend describe your personality and your approach to cooking? Fun loving, welcoming, with a great sense of humor. My approach to cooking is creative, eclectic, and influenced by local, seasonal ingredients.
Greatest cooking influence: My mother. She was a Home Economics teacher and a wonderful home cook. I didn't realize how fine her food was until I began eating at the homes of friends. I soon decline all outside dinner invitations.
Favorite cookbook: Simply French - Patricia Wells Presents the Cuisine of Joel Robuchon. I initially found the recipes anything but simple, but have since prepared many of the dishes with great success.
Favorite kitchen utensil: My 10 ˝" Global Chef's Knife. I researched prior to investing in good knives and have practiced my knife skills ever since. Many of the kitchen gadgets are unnecessary if one knows how to properly use a knife.
Favorite vegetable: Celeriac. After a trip to France where I sampled a number of dishes featuring this vegetable, I returned home and began preparing my own sautés and purges with this complex vegetable.
Contestant: Geoffrey Hill
From: Evanston, Illinois
Occupation: Business Owner, Entrepreneur
Interests (Other than cooking): Renaissance sculpture, Golf, Gardening, Running, anything to do with France and Italy
Ever won a cooking contest: No
How would a close friend describe your personality and your approach to cooking? "He gets excited about food. I think you taste that in his dishes whether or not they're traditional or something entirely different. It's like being in a new restaurant!"
Greatest cooking influence: Paul Bucose. A long time ago, I had my first 3I meal there, and it was 5 hours of tutelage from the wonderful waiter that we talked with all night. I still use bits and pieces from all his cookbooks in addition to whole recipes. He was one of the first to "take no prisoners" for the foods and methods of La France. The food was incredible and I still dream of the truffles that were in everything that night.
Favorite cookbook: How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. While my cookbook preferences change every couple of months or so, this book is currently my favorite. You can tell he spends a lot of time making things work, practically (planned, last minute, disaster recovery, making do, etc.), and professionally.
Favorite kitchen utensil: The lowly wooden paint stir stick (the stirrer you get when you buy a gallon of paint). I stir, scrape, mash, taste, flip, push, clean, and more with it - it never complains and lasts virtually forever.
Favorite vegetable: Chiogga Beets. Roast at 400F with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, and water. Cool, peel, and lightly bathe in the best olive oil you can find. Sprinkle with a little fleur de sel and balsamico. Go to heaven…..
Contestant: Norita Solt
From: Bettendorf, Iowa
Occupation: Retired
Interests (Other than cooking): Oil painting, Gardening, Sewing, Decorating, Music, Travel
Ever won a cooking contest: Won many prizes at the Iowa State Fair competition including $300 and a blue ribbon for a Maple Cream Pecan Tart in a division sponsored by Planter's Nuts. Placed 3rd in the national C&H Sugar Baking Contest. Was one of 100 finalists in the 1998 Pillsbury BakeOff in Orlando, FL. Placed 2nd in the competition for the National Potato Board.
How would a close friend describe your personality and your approach to cooking? One of my closest friends would tell you I'm very extroverted and that I love to talk, especially about good food and cooking. She would also say that I'm very creative and that I'm not afraid to try almost anything. I don't take myself or my cooking so seriously that I can't have fun. I guess you could say I like to "play with my food."
Greatest cooking influence: Graham Kerr. While my family taught me to love good food and cooking, and Julia Child and James Beard taught me the correct terminology and techniques, Graham Kerr taught me to have fun cooking and not to take it TOO seriously. I believe that "too many rules stifle creativity."
Favorite cookbook: The Blue Ribbon Country Cookbook - The New Standard of American Cooking by Diane Roupe. This book has become a "bible" as far as standard recipes and techniques are concerned, but it also has many great new recipes. I have given many copies as gifts.
Favorite kitchen utensil: My current favorite is a recent gift - a stainless pizza peel. It is so handy for lifting dough from the countertop or moving a cake from the cooling rack to the cake stand. I haven't used it for pizza yet!
Favorite vegetable: Right now, yellow summer squash. It's so versatile, with such visual appeal. My favorite recipe is a chilled soup I created by caramelizing onions and a little garlic, then adding the squash, chicken stock and fresh herbs. After it has simmered just until the squash is tender, I puree it in the food processor, add fat-free half and half, and chill. It's great, and very low fat!
Contestant: Camilla V. Saulsbury
From: Bloomington, Indiana
Occupation: Graduate Student
Interests (Other than cooking): Long distance running, Playing the violin, Teaching group exercise classes, Writing, Art and Music appreciation, and Camping
Ever won a cooking contest: Winner, Vegetarian Times Soy Recipe Contest. Winner, Farmland Foods Pork & Catfish Contest. Winner, Gilroy Garlic Festival Cookoff. Winner, Better Homes & Gardens monthly recipe contest. Placed 4th in the Weber Grills International Grilling Contest. Placed 2nd in the Potato Promotion Board Potato Recipe Contest.
How would a close friend describe your personality and your approach to cooking? Holistic, eclectic comfort. Bringing simple elegance into everyday living.
Greatest cooking influence: MFK Fisher. She unabashedly proclaims that food, cooking, and eating are life itself.
Favorite cookbook: Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin. Her prose has lulled me to sleep on more occasions than I can count, and her humble recipes have livened up many a morning, afternoon, and evening repast. I love the books because they help preserve two American art forms in danger of extinction - story-telling, and honest home cooking. She is a true home cook who speaks to home cooks and that is a rarity in food writing.
Favorite kitchen utensil: While to most cooks, a crockpot is the "polyester pantsuit" of the culinary world, I must confess a secret attachment to mine. My first foray into crockpot cooking was memorable for reasons extending beyond the dinner I produced. One bleak February morning, I loaded my pot with an assortment of beef and vegetables and dashed out the door into an arctic Indiana day. Ten hours later, I turned the knob to my apartment door, shaking from the cold and the nervous anticipation of discovering a gravy explosion on my kitchen walls and ceiling. Far from disaster, however, my apartment was filled with the decadent aroma of old-fashioned beef stew laden with sweet herbs and tender vegetables. The most unassuming of kitchen appliances had transformed my barren dwelling into the most welcoming of home in the space of one day. It has been true love ever since.
Favorite vegetable: Potatoes. My favorite way to serve them is by roasting Yukon Gold potatoes with extra-virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of fresh rosemary, and whole cloves of garlic that caramelize as they roast

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