Competitive Cooking Contests

By John Wilder

The food channel is a ratings juggernaut.  Their stars have achieved a level of fame that they are known by their first names only.  Giada, Paula and Rachel et al.

 This indicates a modern day Renaissance in the cooking arts.  Sponsors are quick to react to this and sponsor cooking contests with big money prizes to attract attention to their product lines.  They have a ready participant and a free advertising forum with international ties in the contest information site called:  Cooking Contest Central owned by Betty Parham.

In an interview with her, this author repeatedly tried to tie Ms. Parham down as to how many members she had.  She consistently side stepped the question.  She did allow that her site currently averages 40,000 visitors per week.  Since her site is a fee paid membership site, one can only conjecture as to the total members she has.  One can do the math at $25 per year for the membership.  This is an issue that her members clearly don’t have a problem with.  They view it as a bargain for the services that they receive plus the value added things like online forums where people of like interest can chat with each other.  Ms. Parham takes pride in the fact that many of her members have been with her since the sites inception 13 years ago before there was a Food Channel.  She also notes that her site features over a 1/3 of the Pillsbury Cook-off winners.

I got to interview a couple of her members, a newbie to the contesting world and a more seasoned one with almost 6 years experience.  Michaela Rosenthal is the more seasoned contester with a lot of wins under her belt.  She prefers to enter the contests that feature all expense paid vacations.  She claims to have won at least 3 per year since the beginning of her contest career.  She has also won over $30,000 dollars as well.  I have included some of her wins below.

From Food Network: January 2009 Ultimate Recipe Showdown – Comfort Foods
 ~ Cream of Parsnip Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
~ Apple-Date Fritters with Lemon Curd Cream and Candied Ginger

From Everyday With Rachael Ray: 2006 Stuffing Contest Winner
~ Black-Eyed Pea and Cornbread Stuffing

From the National Pork Board: “America’s Favorite Family Recipes Contest”
~ Pork Schnitzel with Lemon-Caper Cream

From Bertolli Olive Oil: “What’s Your Med Style” Contest
~ Feta Lamb Burgers

From Thai Kitchen: February 2006 Recipe of the Month Winner
~ Thai-Exotic Coconut And Pineapple Bread Pudding

Jennifer Tidwell is the newbie, young, stay at home mom and housewife.  She has just this year won a $1,000 prize from a medium contest for her cheesecake recipe and another $600 prize.  She aspires to be a personal chef and a cookbook writer.  She has connections in the publishing world as well as a professional photographer as a friend who will give her a leg up into the publishing world.

The bottom line is… there is real money to be made in competitive cooking contests.  If you are out of work, you could dust up some favorite recipes and enter them.  The contests are all free to enter.  You have to cook and eat anyway.  Ms. Parham says that they have had first time contesters win big first place prizes on their first try.  Ms. Parham also notes that there are a lot of men on her website as well, one of which is a finalist in this years Pillsbury Bakeoff. Who knows, maybe you could be  the next food network star?  You can’t win if you don’t enter, is Ms. Tidwell’s mantra.

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  1. Jenn Tidwell says:

    What a fun article and I am absolutely honored to be apart of it!

  2. Jenn Tidwell says:

    Congrats Michaela on all your accomplishments. You’re such an inspiration, keep up the good cookin’! Best, Jenn

  3. This is so poorly written it was hard to read. It’s unclear until the end what the point of the “article” was. It was written like a grade school report including lack of hyphens, quotes, and proper capitalization.

    It’s irrelevant and pointless to know how many paying members there are on Cooking Contest Central, and making a big deal of it is distracting at best, downright bad writing at worst.

  4. Heidi Richards says:

    Gee, I didn’t get that! I looked at the fact that the article was about Competitive Cooking Contests and giving examples of how someone could leverage them especially as a business model. And since writing (and reading) is subjective, some people might like the added details the author shared.

    Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment.


  5. Jason Rivera says:

    oh i just love cooking and eating. i love to cook pasta recipes and the like.~:*

  6. cat@surgical stainless steel cookware says:

    I admired people who can cook. When I watch a cooking show on tv it always looks so easy but when I try to cook I always run into problems, burning, cutting myself, etc. ect. I guess its like a green thumb – some people have a knack for it and some dont.
    .-= cat@surgical stainless steel cookware´s last blog ..Buy Surgical Stainless Steel Cookware – 4 Tips =-.

  7. Jake Lewis says:

    me and my mom always love to cook and eat delicious recipes’,;

  8. Catherine Wilkinson says:

    What do you mean “claims to have won”?? Michaela is not lying! She did and does! The tone of the article seems to be kinda suspicious of Betty Parham and her business model. What? It’s not ok to be very successful and it’s necessary to try to “tie Mrs. Parham down”? It’s nobody’s business how many members CCC has. She runs a successful website and takes very good care of the members – I hope she makes a BOAT LOAD of money! Gee, can’t anybody be successful capitalist anymore without journalistic suspicions that their business is somehow shady or they are lying about it?? And you missed the most important aspect of CCC – while winning contests is the goal, the impact of CCC on member’s lives is incredible…they support one another in sicknesses, family milestones, deaths, divorces, etc. Cooking has united it’s members in incredibly positive ways and the encouragement that we offer one another goes far far beyond making money if you are “out of work”.

  9. cooking is my passion and a hobby for me, besides, i love to eat lots of foods ~”

  10. I’ve just started watching more cooking programs, because I’m currently dieting so I am always on the lookout for low calorie recipes that taste delicious.