The territory of competitive cooking and recipe development is like any other ambition you may have—you go through dry spells, have to be organized and you have lulls, especially in your outcomes or winnings! Dry spells are tough—for me they’re when I have spent endless hours creating a recipe to submit what I think is a dang good recipe entry, worked my bahootie off to garner votes, since most all these contests require public voting, and nothing more comes of all of it—you hear nothing after the winners are announced. That’s why it’s important, I think, to use a fisherman’s thinking to competitive cooking contests!
Ben, my husband, is one darn good fishing dude, and I watch what he does when he takes out the john boat. A lot of times, he’s got two, three or four rods, or fishing poles as Huck Finn would say, baited and cast—he’s keeping an eye on all—hoping that one will bite! I use the same mentality with cooking contests—I cast our ‘bait’ or entries, keep an eye on them for the announcement of winners’ dates, and hope one or more will bite! Then I can snap in a big win~~maybe even the big kahuna as in prize monies!
I can have at any given time three or more contest entries submitted simultaneously, Working them is almost a full-time job, especially with the gnarly public voting part. And, when you go months without a win, not one of those dang poles gets a bite—well, those are super discouraging dry spells! As I write this blog, I’m in a major drought—things have been tough and frustrating. I mays well tatoo a big ‘L’–loser–on my forehead! I’ve closed the files on entries that I thought I might have had a good chance of winning and am at a standstill. That’s why being structured in this business really helps!
I try to keep an updated and neatly organized filing system on my laptop of contests entered—I’ll name the file folder contest, download the contest rules and guidelines, have a Word document for on-going ideas, thoughts, etc., keep a copy of the recipe that I finally develop and enter and have several photos I’ve taken of the entry along with the date I entered it. Then I usually make a note on my calendar, yeah, the old fashioned kind that sits on my desk, of when I submitted the entry and when the winners will be announced. It’s a quick visual reminder when I might think about it and check! Actually, the file-keeping system for serious competitors is an essential must in keeping track of things! My main files include ‘Contests Entered’, ‘Contests TO Enter’, ‘Contests Won’ and ‘Contests Lost & Over’~~I can assure you the last file is replete with individual files!! And, this brings me to my last point—lulls.
Lulls are an inevitable part of anything in life—in this business of competitive cooking, it’s sometimes feast or famine! Like many of my other talented competitors, and it’s a close-knit group of us out there, you can have a run on winning and you can get hammered with losses. Yes, you’re happy for your friends who win, but you’re still in a funk wondering what went wrong with what you did. And, that’s where the wondering or thinking should stop—sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason to why one recipe wins and others lose.
It’s all in the luck of the draw sometimes. Yes, it’s good to return and analyze your entry, maybe compare what you did with what won, do things like make sure you followed all the guidelines carefully, but beyond that, you have to let go! Lulls are like the calm before the storm—they’re respites that are needed for juicing your batteries! And, with cooking competition there’s always
a new storm, or a new contest, brewing!
I’m learning to take ‘lulls’ as breathers—letting my mind rest, venture into new things and then come back with a fresh outlook and more energy, hopefully! That’s where I am now as I write this post—in a major lull—and during this time, I’ve been traveling Europe, eating many different foods, exploring new culinary ideas and experimenting with new palate pleasures. This is good—it’s what life is about—and the entire world of food competition is nothing more than a microcosmic look into living and life through the flavors, textures, tastes, smells, feels and looks of food.
©Alice D’Antoni Phillips Ally’s Kitchen