Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Trip to the Campbell's Kitchen

Another post I posted on my food blog, but it's one of those things that I want to remember so I'm posting it here as well!

As I mentioned, I was chosen as one of 3 finalists chosen for Swanson's Chicken Ultimate Football Challenge.  I went to Philidelphia, PA and Camden, NJ to participate in a cook-off, trying to win the title.  I'm so glad that Laura of Real Mom Kitchen was one of the other finalists, and I had a travel buddy since we both are in Utah!

The trip started off a little rough.  We were supposed to fly out at 7:10am, but our flight was delayed.  We were a little worried because we had a connecting flight in Chicago, and if we missed that connection, we wouldn't make it to Philadelphia in time for dinner.  But luckily, our second flight was delayed, and we were able to run from plane to plane, just in time.  (But then as we got on the runway, the flight got delayed for another 45min-1hr...) 
Laura and I were the last ones there, but we made it to dinner at Tinto.  I think I was more excited about this dinner than I was for the cook-off.  Tinto is one of Jorge Garces' (the Iron Chef!!) restaurants in the Philadelphia area.  And it was very cool, because it was restaurant week, so we got to sample many of the dishes there!  We were greeted by many employees of Campbell's and their other brands - and they were all wonderful company for the night!

I loved everything I ate. In fact, everyone raved about almost all of the food.  The sea bass had mixed reviews, but no one complained about anything else!  My first course was La Peral Cheese (semi-firm, bleu, pasteurized, cow & sheep's milk), and Chorizo Pamplona (smoky pork sausage, hint of garlic).  For my second course, I had Beef Brochette (hanger steak, cider, guindilla aioli, crushed peanuts) and Duck Montadito (duck confit, serrano ham, black cherry, la peral spread).  And for dessert, I went with the Bananas y Azafran (chocolate cake, caramelized bananas, saffron crema).  That cake - which was more like fudge - was so rich.  I don't think any of us finished our piece!  I was trying to think of what my favorite dish was, but it was all so amazing.  Easily one of the best meals I've had.

Early the next morning, we headed to the Campbell's headquarters in Camden NJ.  We were taken to the Campbell's Kitchen for a light breakfast and a few introductions before the competition began.  I was so surprised and delighted to learn that their test kitchens are set up just like any home kitchen would be.  In each kitchen, they had different appliances and cookware - the stuff most of us cook with at home.  They really do aim to make sure their recipes can be duplicated in the home kitchen!

We had a few minutes to familarize ourselves with the kitchen we were assigned and to go over our recipes.

And here was my competition:

Laura from Real Mom Kitchen

and Cathy from Hazzard in the Kitchen (wearing her game face!)

Let the competition begin!!

There was a photographer there as well as a videographer.  I didn't take many pictures during the actual competition, so these are shamelessly stolen from the Campbell's Kitchen twitter page!!

We all finished in the hour and a half time limit.

It's kind of funny, because I wasn't nervous with the camera man and the video man in my face the whole time, but when we went before the judges, I all of a sudden got nervous!

And the winner is.....Laura with her Quick Chicken Enchilada Nachos!!

Win or lose, I just had a lot of fun.  I was glad to get to spend some time with these other wonderful bloggers, as well as with so much of the Campbell's staff.  They were wonderful and welcoming and just all around nice people.  I wish my trip wouldn't have been so short, but it was packed full of fun!

And although I didn't get to see much of Philly, I did manage to snap a few pictures from the window of our car.  It's definitely a place I want to come back to visit and explore one day.  Our driver said that it is a city full of stories, and that's my favorite kind of place!!

What I didn't post about on my food blog is how swollen my feet were when I got home.  All morning on my feet cooking, and then 2 plane rides later - let's just say it was quite painful!  I was expecting to swell, being 8 months pregnant and all, but it was pretty bad!  Luckily, the swelling went down after about a day and a half with a lot of elevating!


The Waite Family said...

Congrats for being a finalist that is so exciting!!

Cassie said...

That looks like so much fun! I don't know how they chose a winner -- all three of your dishes look amazing!