Southeastern Regional Winners

Episode 204 Southeastern From left to right,
Host Gary Rhodes; Contesteants Lala Cheema and Kimberly Davis;
Judges Mary Sue Milliken and David Brenner; and Contestant Peter Hyzak

Lala R. Cheema | Kimberly F. Davis | Peter Hyzak

Contestant: Lala R. Cheema
From: Port Orange, Florida
Occupation: High School Biology Teacher
Interests (Other than cooking): Gardening, Home decorating
Ever won a cooking contest: No
How would a close friend describe your personality and your approach to cooking? My close friends consider me a caring, warm-hearted, and loving friend. They admire my compassion for others and my concern for our environment. They enjoy my cooking and consider me a good cook.
Greatest cooking influence: My daughters have been my greatest influence. They have always been admirers and strong critics of my cooking.
Favorite cookbook: I have no favorite cookbook, although I am working on a cookbook of my own.
Favorite kitchen utensil: Mortar & Pestle. I love to freshly grind my herbs and spices with this handy, old-fashioned tool.
Favorite vegetable: Eggplant. I love to prepare low-fat eggplant Pakora. Pakora is a dumpling prepared with a batter of grain flour. I serve it with fresh mint chutney. All my friends love it, too!
Contestant: Kimberly F. Davis
From: Tampa, Florida
Occupation: Self-employed
Interests (Other than cooking): Roller-blading, Traveling, Reading
Ever won a cooking contest: No
How would a close friend describe your personality and your approach to cooking? I am most often described as someone who does everything BIG!! I love to smile and laugh out loud and I adore making others smile with my cooking.
Greatest cooking influence: My grandmother and my father. From the time I was 4 years old, they taught me to love the whole process of cooking, not just the final results. They also taught me never to follow a recipe exactly (except soufflés!!), but to trust my instincts and my taste buds. When my grandmother passed away, she left me her personal cookbook. To this day, it is my most treasured possession.
Favorite cookbook: The New Basics Cookbook by Jolee Rosso & Sheila Lukins. It's a wealth of information on everything from buying and storing food to a vast array of very creative ideas.
Favorite kitchen utensil: My egg separator. There's something about the texture of egg whites that makes me a little "blech"! When I use the separator, I don't have to deal with that!
Favorite vegetable: Artichokes. They are so versatile, you can do any number of things with them. My current favorite way to serve artichokes is to cut them in half and sauté them with garlic, shallots, white wine, lemon, and butter.
Contestant: Peter Hyzak
From: Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Occupation: Sales Manager - Railroad Equipment Sales & Leasing
Interests (Other than cooking): Golf, Wine, Fishing
Ever won a cooking contest: Won first place in the 1992 Gourmet Magazine/King's Supermarkets (NJ) Recipe Contest. Placed second in the 1998 Snack Food Assoc. of America Recipe Contest.
How would a close friend describe your personality and your approach to cooking? "Peter is a nut!" - with a keen sense of humor and an extraordinary ability to feel comfortable around any type of person. He is very well read and can converse with and entertain most people. His is the first one to laugh at himself. He is playful, but takes cooking seriously.
Greatest cooking influence: Julia Child. I met her back in 1988 at Boston's Logan airport as we were both waiting for our flights. I asked for an autograph and some inspiration for a young chef. She told me to season everything in layers as I cook. Today I relish her instruction.
Favorite cookbook: Kitchen Sessions by Charlie Trotter. Charlie manages to elevate the reader to think like a professional without intimidating them with complicated ingredients and procedures. He teaches how to layer flavors and how important the taste of every single mouthful is.
Favorite kitchen utensil: A 10" Russell non-stick professional sauté pan. I have learned how to sauté and then finish items in the oven just like the pros. It pays to buy good equipment, and it makes a difference in the execution.
Favorite vegetable: The mighty asparagus. I soup it, terrine it, and even mousse it. I prefer, however, to blanch it and serve hot with olive oil and Peccorino Romano.

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