I have never won a cooking contest. I've never been IN a cooking contest - and I was thrilled!


Let me explain. This was all part of the Home Chef Challenge with Mario Batali and Hannaford Supermarkets. I was asked to be a judge. Of course. I love eating and judging! Plus, it sort of reminded me of Chopped.

But I didn't read the fine print. The 'twist' to this challenge is that the judges also would have to cook and be judged! The dish had to be inspiring and mean something to you. The charity would be of your choice to help with food insecurity.

I immediately thought of Preble Street Resource Center - an organization I have been involved in for 25 years. I did NOT contact them, because I thought, 'I'll never win.'

But I did! My dish was skordalia with panko crusted eggplant. It's a greek spread with potatoes and garlic. I grew up with this stuff and love it. But it's a killer if you are not a huge fan of garlic. I brought some in for Jeff and Kylie. Kylie really enjoyed it, Jeff said it was 'disgusting'. I was not surprised.

Here are the contestants, who became judges trying my dish:


I almost flipped when I heard I won. I was so happy and so tickled for the Preble Street Resource Center. But enough about me...what about the contestants who were trying ot win a spot in the finals to meet Mario Batali?!


From left to right: Hannaford VP of marketing Maile Buker, contestant Leslie Fillnow, Stephanie Dolan, William Doukas and Hannaford Sr. Marketing specialist Hannah Taylor.

Leslie, from Camden made Farfalle with Pesto and Scallops


Stephanie made Lobster Carbonara


And William made Moroccan Chicken



They were all delicious, but Leslie came out as the winner! This is her in deep preparation!



Congratulations to all of the semi finalists. They walked away with cool gift bags and 100 bucks to Hannaford.

Now Leslie will compete in the finals to try and win an all expense paid trip for two to New York City to meet Mario Batali at a taping of 'The Chew'. The finalist will be picked personally by Mario himself.

Good luck Leslie and congrats on getting to the finals!