That’s right! It was a day full of foodie fun at the 4th Annual Hood New England Dairy Cook-Off this past Sunday at the Providence Convention Center in Providence, RI. At the event, 30 semi-finalists were narrowed down to five finalists in each category and these five competed on live TV for the $10,000 prize.
We arrived on Saturday and stayed overnight at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Providence. If you’ve been following along, you would know that I gave away an overnight stay and two tickets to the event. I didn’t get a chance to meet my winner, but I hope she had a great time! The Wyndham had very nice accommodations – even sleep number beds in each room. That was an unexpected surprise. (65 in case you were wondering.)
The semi-finalists competed throughout the day. We actually caught the Lunch/Dinner (entree) and the Dessert portions of the event. I was able to sample a Sour Cream Potato Gnocchi with Tomato Cream Sauce (Lunch/Dinner) and two desserts – Flanuccino and Cranberry Limóncello Tarts in a Gingersnap Hazelnut Crust. I loved the Flanuccino which was a coffee flavored flan/custard with a wonderful cookie-type crust. Click here to see all 30 semi-finalists and their dishes.
During this time, we met up with several other New England bloggers covering the event. I enjoyed meeting these super-nice ladies. Thanks to Carly for taking this photo.
My family kept asking me what I would be making for the Cook-Off. The same thing I made last year! Nothing! I’m happy to just watch the competition. I could never compete against these very talented home cooks. In fact, the 30 semi-finalists, who competed throughout the day, were narrowed down from over 1,000 recipes. One amateur chef from each New England state competed in each category. Competitors had only 60 minutes to prepare and plate their dishes. All recipes were original and included at least one Hood dairy product and were judged based on taste appeal, presentation/appearance, and creativity/originality.
Those 30 semi-finalists were narrowed to these five finalists.
Breakfast/Brunch: Jean Dziedzinski of Chelmsford, MA – Late Summer Layered Crustless Quiche
Soups/Chowders: Kevin Towle of Gonic, NH – Heaven & Hell Chowder
Appetizers/Side Dishes: Forrest White of Williston, VT – Acorn Squash’n’Blossom Fritter with Vichyssoise Shooter
Lunch/Dinner (Entrée): William Gillard of Damariscotta, ME – Ocean Bounty Creamery
Dessert: Mary Jo Fletcher LaRocco of North Kingston, RI – Cranberry Limóncello Tarts in a Gingersnap Hazelnut Crust
Before the finalists started cooking, we attended the VIP reception where we had some munchies (like last year’s finalist Marie Connor’s Mystic Magic Chocolate Tarts) and were able to sample some Hood products. I tried the Caramel Hood Egg Nog. I love caramel, so this was a sweet treat for me. Shaw’s Supermarket was the Official Supermarket of the event.
Billy Costa from the New England Cable News show “TV Diner” hosted the event again this year as the finalists prepared their dishes in front of a live audience for the $10,000 grand prize.
Each finalist had to describe their recipe to the judges including which Hood product was used in the dish. Here, finalist Forrest White of Williston, VT serves his Acorn Squash’n’Blossom Fritter with Vichyssoise Shooter. The judges really loved the contrast of the warm fritter with the cold soup shooter (Vichyssoise). Was it enough to win?
Not quite! The $10,000 winner was Mary Jo Fletcher LaRocco of North Kingston, RI who made Cranberry Limóncello Tarts in a Gingersnap Hazelnut Crust. I am happy to report that as I mentioned, I had a chance to sample this earlier in the day. It was delicious – a dessert full of flavors like tart (yet sweet) cranberries and tart (yet sweet) lemon and a super-sweet gingersnap crust – a real treat for the pallet. (Do I sound like a judge?)
Mary Jo has entered 4 years in a row and finally took home the grand prize. I was thrilled that I caught her reaction!
“I have been competing in the Cook-Off since it started four years ago and have been vying for the Grand Prize ever since, “ said Mary Jo Fletcher LaRocco. “I have always loved to cook and create new recipes for my family and friends and am so excited I finally won the $10,000.”
This winning recipe can be found on Hood.com.
The other finalists didn’t go home empty handed. For their efforts, they received $500 each.
The Cook-Off will air on TV Diner in November.
Many thanks to Carly and Hood for the hotel stay and tickets to the event.