MARQUETTE - The Mining Journal's annual Cookoff - now in its 37th year - provides an array of tantilizing recipes for November's Mining Journal Cookbook, one of the most popular special editions each year.
The deadline for entering this year's cookoff is Thursday. The cookoff finals are set for Oct. 19 at Chez Nous Restaurant in the Jacobetti Complex at Northern Michigan University.
From all the recipes entered in the annual contest, a panel of judges narrows the field down to three finalists in each of six categories: Appetizers, Salads, For the Kids!, Breads, Main Dishes and Desserts.
From left, finalists Kris Hazeres, Gwendolyn Chapman, Amy McNeill and Treasa Sowa share a laugh during the 2012 Mining Journal Cookoff last October. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)
On Oct. 19, the entrants who submitted the recipes selected as finalists will gather to prepare their dishes for sampling by the judges' panel.
One winner will be chosen in each of the six categories, then the judges will have the toughest task of all: Selecting one of the six category winners as the grand prize winner.
Area businesses provide prizes for each of the category winners and for the best of the best, the grand prize selection.
The prizes, so far, for The Mining Journal Cookoff include $500 in gift certificates from Econo Foods.
To enter: miningjournal.net, submit news, look for Cookoff category, or use the entry blank found on page 6A in today's Mining Journal.
As the contest rules state, recipes do that have to be original, but personal adaptations are preferred. The recipes can be family favorites, recipes received from friends or relatives or dishes combining two or more recipes.
While the event is a competition, it's not cutthroat, said a longtime participant.
"The first thing I can say about the Cookoff is that it's a very welcoming environment. Everybody is there to do their best," said Trudy Gray of Harvey, who has won both category and grand prize awards through the last 20 years. "But the participants are so friendly and welcoming to new people and to each other. It's a very fun day."
Gray said taking part in the Cookoff is a boon for those who love to cook and bake as contestants share their dishes with one another once the judges have finished with their sampling.
"You get to try all kinds of new recipes," Gray said. "You get to experience some food you haven't tried in the past but you want to experience. It's great."
Newcomers to the event and veteran Cookoff finalists both will enjoy participation, she said.
"As someone who has been in the Cookoff for years, I can say it's one of the most fun events of the year for me," she said.
Finalists have the option of cooking/baking their entry on site, doing prep work at home, or bringing the completed recipe to the competition. There is space available in the kitchen at Chez Nous for all, with ovens, refrigerators and freezers all at the ready to help with the process.
Finalists should note, however, they must provide all necessary utensils and ingredients to prepare their entries. And finalists should know presentation is part of the judging process.
So are photos. The Mining Journal will be shooting lots of photographs during the Cookoff for inclusion in the 2013 edition of The Mining Journal Cookbook, which will be inserted in the newspaper Nov. 22.
For more information on the Cookoff, call 228-2500 ext. 253.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is email@example.com