La Grange offers a taste of cooking challenges
Updated: March 25, 2013 1:19AM
LA GRANGE — I don’t fancy myself a fantastic cook, but I don’t think I’m a slouch, either.
And while my family is grateful for the meals I put in front of them almost all the time, there are days when I get a little, shall we say, constructive criticism. “Can you grab the barbecue sauce?” someone will whisper, adding, with a lower but still-audible whisper, “The pork is a little drryyyyyy.”
If you are a person who prepares meals for others in your house, you probably know what my reply is: “Next time, feel free to cook dinner yourself.” I have been known to say that jokingly or deadpan, depending on how my day went.
From one of those conversations came our family’s Meatloaf Challenge. Some of my kids like my meatloaf, while some like the meatloaf my husband makes. All of us like to watch cooking shows and, in particular cooking competitions, and someone decided that we should have a contest where an independent person — not related to any of us — judges our respective meatloaves in a blind taste test. The winner would get insufferable bragging rights.
The Meatloaf Challenge has yet to happen, but we still like to watch cooking competition shows together, whether it’s “Chopped” on Food Network, “Master Chef” on Fox (which airs in the summertime with foulmouthed chef Gordon Ramsey and Chicago’s own Graham Elliot, who says “yummy” a lot) and the newest show, “The Taste” on ABC, featuring one of my favorite foodies, the acerbic and quick-witted Anthony Bourdain.
In the Chicago area, you can check out live culinary competitions, too. In March, for example, the Chicago Area Retail Bakers Association is having its annual cake decorating contest during the Chicago Flower & Garden Show at Navy Pier, at which pastry chefs will go head to head, or at least pastry tip to pastry tip. In April, the Baconfest 2013 gathering of Midwest bacon-lovers (and, assuredly, there are many of those) will include a judges panel that hands out awards for “achievement in the bacon arts.”
La Grange, which, thanks to its many innovative and independently-owned restaurants, is considered by many to be a dining destination (hello, celebs Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis), also has some cooking competitions.
From Scratch Marketplace in downtown La Grange, a shared use kitchen and retail store that features the culinary works of local, gourmet chefs, is following up in its inaugural, “Sliced” cooking competition held in November with another event February. Again, featured vendors in the From Scratch shared kitchen will duke it out in a 45-minute timed challenge in front of a live audience.
“We’ll have an entrée round and a dessert round,” reports owner Kelly Ford, adding the event was well-attended. “We had a lot of fun.”
Ford says to check back at the store and its Facebook page for the date and time for the free event.
I wonder if they’re making meatloaf. I may have to pick up some pointers, after all.