The challenge began with eight local home chefs, each with unique tastes and talents. For the first four weeks, each contestant received a mystery bag of ingredients and had a few days to create a dish to help them move on to the next challenge.
2018 Cook of the Week chefs include Oscar Chapa, Darla Pitts, Roberta Fahey, Dylan James, Leslie Little, Lola Kamuda, Ann Wayne, and Mark Clemens.
Each mystery bag of ingredients introduced a new challenge
First round of mystery ingredients: Vanilla Bean Paste from Neilsen- Massey; Caminito Ham Off The Bone from Greenridge Farm; butternut squash from AMITA Health Systems; Anjou pears; and Erythritol from NOW Foods.
Second round of mystery ingredients: Mackerel Royal Filet with Jalapeño from King Oscar; peeled plum tomatoes courtesy of Northern Illinois Food Bank; Red Jalapeño Mustard from Greenridge Farm; and baby spinach.
Third round of mystery ingredients: Pure Lemon Paste from Nielsen-Massey Vanillas; Greek yogurt from Golden Brunch; orzo; Tacchino Arrosto Oven Roasted Italian Turkey from Greenridge Farm; and Pumpkin Seed Oil from NOW Foods.
Fourth round of mystery ingredients: Tomato Brisling Sardines from King Oscar; Q Cup Quinoa from NOW Foods; canned artichoke hearts from Chandler's Chop House; French bread crumbs from Gonnella Baking Co.; and Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Chicken Sausage from Greenridge Farm.