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Chefs spice up chicken in cooking contest

Chefs spice up chicken in cooking contest

Merry Graham (left) and Jackie Dodd show off their winning recipes after the California Regional Finals of the Third Annual Foster Farms Fresh Chicken Cooking Contest.

POSTED September 17, 2012 4:38 p.m.

For the third year, Foster Farms put the call out to local chefs seeking the most innovative recipes they could come up with using that ever-popular main dish — chicken. Nearly 1,200 home, amateur and professional chefs residing in California, Oregon and Washington submitted their prized, original, fresh chicken recipes for consideration.

Two contestants, Jackie Dodd and Merry Graham, both used fresh ingredients grown in the Golden State to win the California Regional Finals and a chance to compete at the contest’s Finals on Sept. 28 at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, in Napa Valley.

During the California Regional Finals cook-off event, held Sept. 7 in San Diego, four judges — Christine Ross, food editor at U-T San Diego, Lori Lange, editor of, Susan Russo, editor of, and Itica Milanes, reporter and weekend anchor with KGTV 10News — selected Dodd's Spice Rubbed Chicken Thighs with Chipotle Béarnaise and Avocado Lime Quinoa Salad and Graham's Lemon-Hoisin Glazed Chicken on Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Sesame Rice as their top picks. Judges made decisions based on taste, use of fresh, local ingredients, appearance and appeal, simplicity and ease of making, and originality.
"Congratulations to Jackie Dodd and Merry Graham for bringing fresh California ingredients to life through their quality, creative recipes," said Ira Brill, director of communications for Foster Farms. "The culinary bar has been raised and our Finals event is shaping up to be our fiercest competition yet."

Dodd and Graham each received a $1,000 cash prize for winning the Regional Finals. They will join Washington Regional Finalists Rebecca Cameron (Tea Rubbed Chicken with Apple Spinach Salad and Spicy Nuts) and Sandra Gray (Cherry and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken with Merlot Scented Lentils) and Oregon Regional Finalists Karen Bernards (Hoisin Chicken Thighs) and Judith Berman-Yamada (Cumin Chicken Paillards with Grape Tomatoes, Scallions and Wine) at the Finals. A $10,000 grand prize and one-year supply of Foster Farms fresh chicken will be awarded to the contest's Grand Prize winner.

According to Foster Farms, many of the recipes submitted this year were health-focused. Grains and legumes, such as quinoa, barley and lentils, were widely used to complement the fresh chicken. Many recipes also included rubs, several of which incorporated coffee or tea.

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