MARQUETTE - They were busy preparing their entries in The Mining Journal's 38th annual Cook-off Saturday, but four veteran contestants took the time to answer a question.
"What advice would you give to a young person just learning how to cook?"
"Find someone who is 50 or older to show you what to do," said Kris Hazeres of Marquette as she prepared dishes in three categories in the cook-off. "I remember when I was in my 20s and just starting to cook, I went to my aunts and my grandma for advice. Older cooks know the shortcuts. They know the good stuff. I truly believe that."
Brenda Washnock of Negaunee Township works on Gado Gado, her entry in the salad category, during the 38th annual Mining Journal Cook-off Saturday. That dish won the category and the overall grand prize as best entry. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)
Gwinn resident Gwendolyn Chapman, who has participated in the cook-off for many years, offered similar words of wisdom.
"If you have a mother or a grandmother who's a good cook, talk to them and write down their recipes," she said. "If you don't write them down, you won't get the recipes. My mother died when I was a baby and my grandmother raised me. She didn't know what a cookbook was. It was all her: a pinch of this, a dash of that.
"I don't take credit for it but my daughters and my granddaughter, who is an adult, are all fantastic cooks," Chapman said. "They grew up talking about cooking and it shows."
And the winners are ...
MARQUETTE - Brenda Washnock was the grand prize winner at the 38th annual Mining Journal Cook-off Saturday.
Washnock's salad entry, Gado Gado, was chosen as the winner in that category and as the best overall recipe by the judges' panel. Gado Gado - an Indonesian word meaning potpourri or medley - includes yellow rice, spinach and other vegetables along with tofu and deviled eggs, accompanied by a gingery peanut sauce.
Washnock also won the main dishes category with her entry Beef Tenderloin with Cremini-Apricot Stuffing and Red Wine Reduction.
Other category winners were Lynn Kirkpatrick, appetizers, Crispy Asparagus and Sweet Pepper Roll Ups; Sandy Etelamaki, for the kids, Mountain Dew Apple Cobbler; Amy McNeil, breads, Honey Cinnamon Beer Bread; and Treasa Sowa, desserts, Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake.
In all, 18 dishes - three each in the six categories - were prepared in the cook-off finals at Chez Nous restaurant inside the Jacobetti Complex at Northern Michigan University. Those recipes, plus all others entered in the competition, will be featured in the annual Mining Journal Cookbook, set for publication Nov. 16.
For Brenda Washnock of Negaunee Township, the advice she'd give is simple.
"I would tell them not to worry about the mess," she said. "The mess is the bulk of the work and if you worry about that too much, you miss the fun of cooking."
Washnock, by the way, won the grand prize in Saturday's event.
For longtime MJ cook-off contender Trudy Gray of Marquette, cooking is a tradition passed generation to generation.
"I come from a family that loves to cook," she said. "I have been cooking since I was a little kid. One of the things my mother, my father, my grandmother all taught me is that it is not so much what you make or how you make it.
"It's the love you put into it that matters."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.