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Maiah Miller – Grand Prize

  1. Q: How did you develop a passion for cooking and a love of cheese?
    A: I've always loved to cook since a young age when my twin sister and I would help my mother in the kitchen. My husband now loves my cooking, and enjoys almost all variety of cheese, so I find myself incorporating cheese into recipes a lot.
  2. Q: What is your favorite thing about cooking with cheese?
    A: Cheese seems to really bring a dish together, and especially during the colder months, I get a lot of requests from my family for filling, hearty dishes. As my husband says, "You can never have enough cheese", and when I make homemade pizza or macaroni he always encourages me to add even more.
  3. Q: How did you come up with your winning recipe?
    A: I was at my sister's house over the holidays and she happened to have a pretty wide variety of Ile de France cheeses. She has an enviable kitchen; the fridge is always full and the pantry always stocked. It was late morning and I figured a quiche would make a nice brunch meal. She had apples in the fridge as well as a giant fresh rosemary plant on her windowsill, so I figured apple and rosemary would compliment a delicious, flavorful quiche. Turns out I was right; everyone loved it!
  4. Q: What's the best piece of cooking advice you've ever received?
    A: The best cooking advice I received is simple: my mother always told me to make sure I read a recipe through before beginning it to make sure I know the steps and have my ingredients. It took me awhile to learn this one; I've had to borrow my fair share of ingredients from neighbors or dash to the store

Augustina Zaacardi – 2nd place

  1. Q:How did you develop a passion for cooking and a love of cheese?
    A: My passion for cooking and love of cheese started at a young age. There was always at least 5-6 different kinds of cheese in our fridge when we were growing up and it continues in my home today. Cooking is also a way for me to be creative.
  2. Q:What is your favorite thing about cooking with cheese?
    A: There are many things I love about cooking with cheese; there are so many varieties and flavors to choose from, it is such a versatile ingredient and it adds a richness to any dish.
  3. Q:How did you come up with your winning recipe?
    A: My recipe is a combination of some of my favorite ingredients and flavors. If you cook with ingredients you love you can't go wrong!
  4. Q:What's the best piece of cooking advice you've ever received?
    A: My parents always encouraged me and my brothers to taste all different kinds of foods. I believe this advice has helped me to become a more versatile cook.

Sandi Sheppard – 3rd Place

  1. Q: How did you develop a passion for cooking and a love of cheese?
    A: I've had a passion for cooking since I could see the top of the stove and always wanted to help in the kitchen. Growing up, I was a dedicated cooking student, learning from both my mom and watching cooking shows on TV.
  2. Q: What is your favorite thing about cooking with cheese?
    A: My love of cheese began with my first grilled cheese sandwich, and as I began cooking for my own family, cheese was an integral ingredient for many of our favorite weekly comfort food meals.
  3. Q: How did you come up with your winning recipe?
    A: I've always experimented in the kitchen, and through the years have found many wonderful new varieties of cheeses available now, so discovering new ways to combine cheeses has allowed me to bump-up old favorites to a new and delicious level!
  4. Q: What's the best piece of cooking advice you've ever received?
    A: I've been a competition cook for the past four years now and try to think outside the box when developing new recipes. My goal for this contest was to feature cheese as the star ingredient and create an easy to make yet elegant looking and delicious entree fit for the most elegant Holiday table. I could think of nothing more beautiful and exotic than my DUCK SAUSAGE, FIG & CAMEMBERT STUFFED BOSC w/MUSTARD-ORANGE COULIS with the creamy Ile de France Camembert cheese melted on top! I think the best cooking advice I was ever given came to me from my favorite TV cooking teacher, Julia Child: This my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun! And, I say, be sure to add love!