Cook of the Week 2019

For detailed information about the contest, contestants and their dishes - CLICK HERE

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.

2019 Cook of the Week chefs include Leslie Meredith, Ann Wayne, Kim Bradley, Rob Benes, Lulu Chapa, Lisa Eberhahn, Alex Marsalek, and Roberta Fahey.

Counter-clockwise: Leslie Meredith, Ann Wayne, Kim Bradley, Rob Benes, Lulu Chapa, Lisa Eberhahn, Alex Marsalek, and Roberta Fahey

Each mystery bag of ingredients donated by sponsors introduced a new challenge for the contestants

First round of mystery ingredients: Liquid monk fruit from NOW Foods, lamb and beef burgers from burgerIM Oak Brook, green beans from AMITA Health and pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas.

Second round of mystery ingredients:King Oscar Royal Fillets Mackerel with Lemon from King Oscar Inc., broccolini from Chandler's Chophouse, whole wheat pasta and hemp seeds.

Third round of mystery ingredients: Al Pastor Pork Slices from Grecian Delight, plain popcorn courtesy of Andigo Credit Union, Dr. Gillerson's Burger Elixir, a homemade ketchup from Gillerson's Grubbery, and portobello mushrooms.

Fourth round of mystery ingredients:Oktoberfest Beer courtesy of Binny's Beverage Depot; chuck roast from Pre Meats; Nutty Infusions Salted Caramel Cashew Butter from NOW Foods; and cauliflower courtesy of the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

Moving to the Cook of the Week Challenge finale is Ann Wayne, Leslie Meredith, Lulu Chapa, and Lisa Eberhahn.

The final four moved on to the finale to compete in a live cook-off. The finale, held at Westin Northwest Chicago in Itasca provided guests with appetizers, drinks, raffle prizes, and live cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs. Scroll down to see images of the event.

Meet the Contestants

Leslie Meredith

2019's Cook of the Year - Leslie Meredith of Arlington Heights

Leslie's Dishes

Clockwise, L to R:Keftedes in Lemon Sauce, Thai Fish Cakes, beef curry and a vegan curry with homemade roti flatbread made from cauliflower, and Meatloaf al Pastor with crispy cauli-shroom tots.
Challenge One Dish: Keftedes in Lemon Sauce with Tzatziki and a Mediterranean green bean salad.
Challenge Two Dish: Thai Fish Cakes (Tod Man Pla) with cucumber dipping sauce and broccolini pad thai.
Challenge Three Dish: Meatloaf al Pastor with crispy cauli-shroom tots.
Challenge Four Dish: Beef Barbacoa and Spiced Cauliflower Tacos with curtido and cashew lime crema.
Winning Finale Dish: beef curry and a vegan curry accompanied by a homemade roti flatbread made from cauliflower.

Ann Wayne

Ann Wayne of Barrington

Ann's Dishes

Challenge One: Lamb and Green Bean Curry with candied pumpkin seeds.
Challenge Two: Spaghetti and Fish Balls with roasted broccolini in a pesto sauce
Challenge Three: Open Face Pulled Pork Sandwich on a portobello mushroom bun topped with grilled pineapple, crunchy slaw and sweet 'n' smoky popcorn.
Challenge Four: "Melt in Your Mouth" Pot Roast with cauliflower mash and homemade gravy
Finale Dish: Hamburg Steak and Red Wine Reduction with Seasoned Rice and Sweet Potato Soup

Lisa Ebherhan

Lisa Eberhahn of Mount Prospect

Lisa's Dishes

Challenge One: Grilled Lamb Kabobs with Pepita Salsa and Green Bean Celery Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette and Sweet-Salty Pepitas.
Challenge Two: Mackerel Pate on Spaghetti with hemp hearts and red pepper coulis and pickled broccolini.
Challenge Three: Pastor Risotto with Elixir Popcorn Mushrooms and Asparagus with Elixir Glaze.
Challenge Four: Ropa Vieja with Cauliflower Tortillas with baked plantains with savory cashew sauce.
Finale Dish: Mediterranean Nachos with cheese sauce and lime crema sauce.

Lulu Chapa

Lulu Chapa of Volo.

Lulu's Dishes

Challenge One: Greek Lamb Beef Lettuce Wraps with Mediterranean pico de gallo and green bean salad.
Challenge Two: Spaghetti Carbonara with Broccolini and a side of lemon Royal Fillets Mackerel and hemp seed pate on rustic toast.
Challenge Three: Street Tacos Al Pastor with dry mushrooms strings served with a side of cilantro lime popcorn.
Challenge Four: Steak Mole with a side of Mexican-style cauliflower rice.
Finale Dish: Cranberry Meatballs Over Skhug Couscous With Sweet Potato and Green Bean Hash With Bacon.

Alex Marsalek

Alex Marsalek of Antioch

Alex's Dishes

Challenge One: Sweet and Spicy Asian Stir Fry.
Challenge Two: Hemp Encrusted Mackerel with pasta in a cream sauce.
Challenge Three: Al Pastor Stuffed Mushrooms with elote popcorn.
Challenge Four: Beef and Beer Stew with cauliflower latkes.

Rob Benes

Rob Benes of Glen Ellyn

Rob's Dishes

Challenge One: Shepherd's Pie with a cauliflower mash topping, served with blanched green beans dressed with mustard vinaigrette and garnished with toasted and chopped pepitas.
Challenge Two: Pasta with Mackerel, Tomatoes, Olives and Herbed Breadcrumbs served with oven-roasted broccolini with creamy hemp seed dressing.
Challenge Three: Flame-Broiled Pork Pozole with Mexican Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms.

Kim Bradley

Kim Bradley of Glen Ellyn

Kim's Dishes

Challenge One: Beef and Lamb Sliders with sauteed green beans and tomatoes topped with roasted pumpkin seeds.
Challenge Two: Lemon Mackerel and Broccolini Spaghetti with pasta and hemp seed breadsticks and green salad.

Robert Fahey

Roberta Fahey of Arlington Heights

Roberta's Dish

Challenge One: Greek-inspired Flatbread with green beans and a balsamic monk fruit glaze and pepita pesto.

What a fun night during the Cook of the Week Challenge finale!

Buffet provided by Westin Chicago Northwest in Itasca and Grecian Delight. Sponsors including Seasons 52, Northern Illinois Food Bank, Moretti's, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Andigo Credit Union, PreBrand, Gillersons Grubbery, Thermador, Novak and Parker, PRP Wine, and Now Foods, Toasty Cheese, Skeptic Spirits, Cooking Skills Academy, and Chandlers were serving up samples for spectators to try. Each attendee also walked away with a goodie bag filled with treats and specials.

Guests enjoyed special cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs.
Created By
Katrin Polomsky