Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Death of a Hobby

           For years I've loved entering cook-offs.  Sometimes these are live events where you compete with other cooks. Or it may be a contest where you send in an original recipe, then expert chefs try it and award prizes.

          It was a blast. For one thing, I won more than a hundred of them. This meant fabulous trips (France, Hawaii, the Caribbean, New York, etc.), appliances, and cash.

          St. Bob likes to tell the backstory, which is that I make up recipes and send them in without first trying them out. But after umpty-ump years of cooking, I can tell when I read a recipe if it will work. And then, of course, if it wins I definitely make it! Here are just a few big winners, starting with a mini-cornucopia made from turkey, for Thanksgiving:

Then a Vacherin:

This one, from 1997, is why you see tortilla roll-ups at every potluck now:

Here I am being interviewed at the National Beef Cookoff: 

I definitely went through a spiral roll-up phase:

This Jazzy Jamaican Eggs Benedict one took us on an incredible trip to France:

And a layering phase:

And more:

And then social media happened. Suddenly the entries were not judged by experts, but voted on by your friends. And if you worked in a big office building, you could get 1,500 votes, easily beating the measly 285 votes of the home hobbyist.

          Companies didn’t care that it was now a popularity contest; the advertising they got from all the postings and likes were worth it.

          So, like writing jingles in the 1950s, or selling buggy whips in the 1800s, the legit recipe cook-0ff was dead. Or, as Billy Crystal said in Princess Bride, “mostly dead.”

          Every once in awhile I’ll still hear about a contest that’s judged by experts, and sometimes I’ll enter. But the glory days are gone. And let’s not bemoan it; let’s just celebrate the fact that it was such fun while it lasted. If you’d like a few of my original recipes, check out the “What’s Cooking with Joni” tab on this blog. Food is fun, and always will be.

          Two of my books are cookbooks, in fact. Check ‘em out right here. And be sure to subscribe to this blog!

1 comment:

  1. I love this post with all of your photos! What an interesting life you’ve lived! Too bad social media took over...the good old days, lol!