Janet's Notebook
Home Cooks Win BIG At World Food Championships

Linda Bonwill, Side Dish Champ!

There's little in life more thrilling than watching a loved one succeed. My grandson is an aspiring taekwondo champ, and I swear I'm more nervous than he is when he competes! Well, following the recent World Food Championships in Las Vegas, I feel like my family has grown tenfold. The entire Crew and I were on pins and needles watching like proud peacocks as Just A Pinch members cooked with passion... and won.

After conducting a sweeping talent-search here at justapinch.com, 25 lucky home cooks won an invitation to compete against the pros at the 2012 Championships, the largest cooking competition of its kind and hosted by non other than "Man vs. Food" star Adam Richman! Our talented guys and gals each competed in one of five categories - Burger, Sandwich, Side Dish, Chili and Recipe (a general category). And without exception they left us swelling with pride.

"The entire experience, from start to finish was UNBELIEVABLE!" says Melissa Baldan, a San Diego home cook representing Just A Pinch in the Chili competition. "The energy of everyone was out of this world! It was wonderful to meet everyone and a joy to make some new friends! Thanks again to the entire crew! I had a blast!"

Many who attended echoed that same sentiment.

"The best part of the World Food Championships was truly meeting so many of the Just A Pinch cooks that inspire me year round!" exclaimed side dish maven, Merry Graham who also joined Chili competitor Big Bill Wentz as panelist at the event's press conference!

Perhaps the crowning glory of the entire weekend-long festivities was getting to watch three of our deserving home cooks qualify as Finalists in their category: Jackie Mento (Side Dishes), Lori McLain (Sandwiches) and Linda Bonwill (Side Dishes)! Each was awarded $1,000 and received an invitation to prepare a second recipe in the hope of making it to the final round of competition, The Final Table!

It was a blur of activity as all the Just A Pinch cooks pitched in and leant a hand. Our three finalists were ultra prepared - stepping-up to prep their second recipes right there on the spot - and I've never witnessed such teamwork and camaraderie!

In the end, our own Linda Bonwill came out on TOP of the Side Dish category and finished fifth in the competition overall! Her prize winnings totaled more than $10,000 and we couldn't have been any more proud. Not only was she the lone female to make it to the Final Table, but she was also the only non-professional!

When asked how she would spend her winnings, Linda shared that she was looking forward to treating her grandchildren.

“We’re taking my granddaughters to the toy store to pick out whatever new toys they want!” she smiled. “It’s not something we can let them do all the time. We’re really thankful to have had this opportunity.” Once home, that dream came true for Linda and her granddaughters. Linda reported back that of all things, her little Bella picked out an Easy Bake Oven! Looks like there may be another cooking champ in the family!

It is a blessing any time you meet a kindred spirit who shares your passions. It is, however, pure joy to be part of an entire community of such good-hearted people. We look forward to meeting more of you at events like this in the future. Competitor Jackie Mento sums it up perfectly:

"My body was so tired [when I returned home from Las Vegas] that I needed two days to recover. But my mind was racing with new cooking ideas and happy that I have a whole set of new friends. That has to be the best part of an event like this - making new friends. It was awesome to win some money and be recognized for your recipe but making new friends and connections was priceless."

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Linda BONWILL - Dec 3, 2012
Thank you Bea and Millie,

Yes, it would be super great to all meet soon. Maybe JAP will hold a get together in Nashville!! Wouldn't that be great!!! Yes, and home cooks "Rock and Rule".
Millie Johnson - Dec 3, 2012
Congrats to all the homecooks from jap that competed ! Way to go ! I know you all take home wonderful memories. Homecooks rule !
Bea Long - Nov 29, 2012
Congrats to all of you and I hope I get to meet some of you! We need to plan some kind of get together somewhere, near far or otherwise! Maybe I will be cooking in an event sometime, that would be wonderful!!! Home cooks are the rock stars for sure!! Merry Christmas every one!!

Lori McLain - Nov 28, 2012
I am so very thankful for all of you ! The WFC was a dream come true ....to even get there in the first place....to have the priviledge of meeting the whole CREW and have you coach and mentor me through this awesome experience ! You each touched my heart with your kindness and your joy at being right in the battle with us ! So many new friends and inspirations ! Home cooks ARE where the heart is ! xxoo
hilda cornell - Nov 28, 2012
I have had a problem with all recipes useing celery (this does NOT help the new cooks in they'er kitchens...mose all recipes call for a stalk of celery--makes about 4to5 cups of chopped celery--a rib of celery only 1/2 to 3/4 cups chopped..........I don't want our new and adventuresom cooks to become discouraged) I occasionaly run into simmilar missnomers in published recipes....please try to monitor the ingredience list before it is published....Thank you for your time and attention to detail...grammie
Dana Ramsey - Nov 28, 2012
Yes Congrats to you all!!!!!!!!!! JAP rocks!
SK H - Nov 28, 2012
Congrats to all....you all did a wonderful job.
Linda BONWILL - Nov 27, 2012
Nicely put Jackie! I couldn't have said it better myself. Keep us all posted with all the updated news. ♥
Linda BONWILL - Nov 27, 2012
Congrats Donna, that is so exciting!!! It was so nice to meet you and the others. Keep us posted on all your exciting news. Love ya!!1
Jackie Mento - Nov 27, 2012
While many of the CHEFS bought their entourages we were fortunate enough to have the hardest working support team ever - the JAP staff that worked tirelessly to help us all do our best. We were tired so I can't imagine how all of you felt - I do know that Dan was buying Advil for his aching muscles!! (sorry Dan - but I didn't promise not to tell anyone! LOL).
You guys supported EVERY event and seemed to be everywhere at once. Annakate - that mobile text app worked like a charm! and I will always cherish your encouragement when I was making my first dish and thanks to you I have a video of my very first turn in ever!!! Janet - that frozen coffee latte you recommended gave me my second wind. and Shelly what can I say! We were so "lucky" to have met you and your funny personality made us all laugh so much! You guys covered every detail for us - things we hadn't even thought of and for that we all say "Boo Yah" to JAP! Why, I think I feel a poem coming on!!!! LOL!
It was so great to represent JAP and our recipes. How many people can ever say that they were at the FIRST World Food Championship! I have a feeling many will be clamoring for a spot next year so thanks for this great opportunity and my more than 15 minutes of fame here in my hometown!
TV spot and 2 spreads in the newspaper!! Hoo Wee!!
And then let's talk freindships! I am so happy to have met such awesome competitors and get a glimpse into their lives. You people are AMAZING! My life is so enriched from having met you all. Just don't be surprised if you see me and Sherri LOGAN Williams on the Amazing Race -- NOT!!!
susan simons - Nov 27, 2012
Donna that's great.
Donna Bardocz - Nov 27, 2012
And big congrats to those JAP competitors who did come home with some cash, such as Linda Bonwill!
Donna Bardocz - Nov 27, 2012
Yes, all of us who had the honor to be there were so thrilled and excited to be a part of the WFC and getting to meet the JAP team who supported us all, and the rest of the competitors, was the best part!

Even though I did not win any monies there at the WFC, I came home with something that money cannot buy: wonderful memories and lots of new friends! It was simply a dream come true for me.

Can you believe that I am a local star here in my own community where they did a 2 page spread in our local paper on just me! It talked about JAP and the WFC and the other recipe contest wins I have been lucky enough to have won too!

Thanks again to the JAP crew for selecting my Down-Home Pimento Cheese Slider recipe to compete in the WFC in the burger category!
Linda BONWILL - Nov 27, 2012
I meant to say competition..lol, not completion.
Melissa Baldan - Nov 27, 2012
I agree with Linda!! Thanks,Just a Pinch, for a weekend I'll never forget!