By Christie Vanover | Published December 10, 2013 | Last Updated March 13, 2023
Food competitions are exhilarating, intense and all-out balls-to-the-wall crazy, but I’m officially hooked. I had never competed in a kitchen coliseum before with a recipe of my own.
My friend, Beth Peterson AKA Beth’s Table, came to my house a few days early and we got to cooking, perfecting our recipes one last time before the main event. A few trips to Whole Foods and by gosh, we were ready…
…except…before competing, we decided to team up with a few of our closest foodies (Ally Phillips, Beth Peterson, Heather Tallman and Julie Hession) and throw a killer kick-off party with a Popcorn Girl Las Vegas popcorn buffet, champagne and rockin’ goodie bags courtesy of Saucy Mama, Dole, The Beef Jerky Store, 240 Sweet and Challenge Butter.
Our social media friends from around the globe gathered on Fremont Street along with some VIPs, and we connected like we had known each other for years…heck thanks to facebook, I guess we kind of have.
The next morning, it was time for competition day. Beth greeted me with a Starbucks tea (I don’t drink coffee) and every breakfast option they served, and my husband pulled up with all of my groceries and cooking tools in hand. I was so thankful that as a local, I didn’t have to lug everything around downtown Las Vegas.
It was time; time to prepare the sandwich that I had been perfecting for months. I decided weeks earlier to make and bake my own bread on-site. I only had 90 minutes to pull it off, and based on my practice run, every second was going to count. There was no room for error.
The nerves kicked in, but when my husband’s parents arrived, I felt calm. Calmer than I think I have ever felt in a kitchen. They knew when to jump in to help and when to step back.
Things got even better when Colette from Saucy Mama appeared. She flew to Vegas from Oregon just to experience the World Food Championships and cheer me on. She was shooting video and photos like I was a celebrity chef. Her energy made everyone around her excited to see what I was doing.
Here’s her Zestuous highlight video. I’m so thankful that she captured and shared this exciting memory.
As I was preparing my bread dough, Sharon and the film crew from Sharp Entertainment stopped by to see what I was preparing. In her adorable British accent, Sharon responded, “You’re making your own bread?”
Yes, I told her. And I was kneading it by hand on my great, great grandmother’s bread board.
From that point forward, the crew kept returning to my station to check on my status. Even Top Chef contestant Tiffany Derry stopped by to check out my sandwich.
It really added to the excitement…so much so that I forgot to instruct my mother-in-law how I wanted the bacon cooked. She likes it extra crispy, so that’s how she cooked it. Unfortunately, the bacon drippings started to burn.
Major problem! This dish depends on bacon drippings. Fortunately, I had another pan and more bacon, so she started a new batch. The film crew couldn’t help but pull her aside to ask what happened. Every TV show needs a little drama, right?
Speaking of TV shows, the World Food Championships is going to air on an A&E network in the spring of 2014. Here’s a highlight video to tide you over.
While the sandwich comprises of homemade bread and grilled bacon drippings filet, the key components are Saucy Mama Horseradish Bacon and homemade mayo. Did you know that you can’t make mayo without mustard? And of course I used Saucy Mama Dijon mustard.
Another key component is the asparagus slaw. It’s made by shaving asparagus with a vegetable peeler, and it’s best to use thick asparagus, so you get more ribbons per stem.
I turned my sandwich in with a few minutes to spare, and then I moved onto the grilled cheese round where I made Truffled Fonteenies with Saucy Mama Dijon Mustard.
Although I didn’t win, the rest of the week was still an exhilarating, food-filled fun time. I hosted meet-ups in the Saucy Mama suite, a gorgeous room at the Golden Nugget, and Suzie AKA Saucy Mama herself, stopped by to meet other competitors.
We also enjoyed some adventurous bacon dishes and a Whiskey for Breakfast cocktail with bacon bourbon at the Wright Bacon party.
Prior to World Food Championships, I had never met Suzie and the Saucy Mama team, but by the end of the week, they became family. Suzie even sported a beautiful Zestie green blouse in my honor. I am truly touched by the thoughtfulness and kindness of the Saucy Mama and Barhyte Specialty Foods family.
To close out the week: Beth, my roommate in the suite, continued to succeed day-by-day, and she went onto win the Recipe Title and $10,000. Woo hoo!!! Ally’s Bolognese and Julie’s burger both rocked my taste buds, and I had the chance to show Heather a small portion of my exciting city, which included a tasty In-n-Out burger and animal fries.
I also participated in a Kenmore cooking segment with Celebrity Chef Dr. BBQ (Ray Lampe)…
…and a vlog with Rebecca Regnier.
All-in-all, it was a week to remember. I needed about a 4-week break to catch back up with life, but now, I’m ready to do it all again. Fingers crossed I qualify for the 2014 WFC.
In the meantime, enjoy my signature sandwich and stay tuned to Zestuous and Saucy Mama to find out when the World Food Championships TV show will air on A&E.
Steak Sandwich with Saucy Mama Horseradish Bacon
I also call this sandwich the Deployment Day Sandwich because it was inspired by the dinner I prepared my husband before he deployed for war.
You don’t have to make your own bread, you can simply use store-bought baguettes or deli rolls.
200 grams water
1 packet yeast (or 20 grams fresh yeast)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tsp. salt
325 grams flour
8 slices bacon
6 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons Saucy Mama Creamy Horseradish Sauce
1 tablespoon chives, minced
Grilled Bacon Drippings Filet
Bacon drippings from above
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 large filet mignons
1-2 tablespoons Ribeye Rub
1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Red wine
4 green onions
10 green asparagus
10 white asparagus
bacon drippings from above
½ lemon, juiced and zested
1 tablespoon red wine
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon peperoncinis, diced
Peperoncini Horseradish Mayonnaise
¼ cup egg beaters
1 tablespoon peperoncini juice
½ tsp. Saucy Mama Dijon Mustard
¾ cup canola oil
1 tsp. ribeye rub
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Microwave 200 grams water for 30 seconds. Pour into a mixing bowl with yeast and sugar. Let proof 3-5 minutes. Stir in flour and salt. Turn out onto a bread board and knead for 5 minutes. Cover with the mixing bowl for 15 minutes. Using a dough cutter, cut into 6 equal portions. Roll into balls. Cover with a warm, damp tea towel for 10 minutes.
Shape into baguettes. Place on a greased baguette pan. Cover with a warm, damp tea towel for 15 minutes.
Score each baguette. Spray with water and bake in a 425-degree oven for 15 minutes.
Slice in half. Spread with butter, sprinkle with salt. Broil for 2-3 minutes, until golden.
Cut 6 slices of bacon in half. Cook over medium-low heat until brown. Drain on paper towels. Reserve the bacon grease.
In a small bowl, combine sour cream, Saucy Mama Creamy Horseradish Sauce and chives. Salt to taste.
Spread the horseradish sauce over the strips of bacon. Keep the remaining horseradish sauce.
Place a baking rack on a foil-lined sheet plan. Place the bacon on the rack. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes.
Grilled Bacon Drippings Filet
In the pan with the bacon grease, add the butter, shallots and garlic and sauté until tender. Turn off the heat.
Slice the filet into ⅛-1/4-inch slices. Remove any visible fat.
Place in a bowl. Add half of the bacon-shallot mixture. Add ribeye rub, red wine and Worcestershire sauce. Toss to coat. Let rest for 20 minutes.
Heat a grill to high. Cook the strips on the grill about 1-2 minutes per side, just so the outside gets a sear, but the inside is still medium rare. Place on a sheet pan. Add butter and salt and cover with foil, until ready to serve.
Slice the green onions in half and julienne.
Shave the asparagus with a vegetable peeler.
Place the onions and asparagus in a bowl of ice water. This keeps them fresh and crunchy and adds a little curl to the onions.
In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining bacon-shallot mixture, red wine, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and salt to taste.
Drain the asparagus and onions with a salad spinner. Combine the asparagus, onions, vinaigrette, lemon zest and diced peperoncinis.
Peperoncini Horseradish Mayonnaise
Place the egg beaters, peperoncini juice, sugar, salt, Saucy Mama Dijon and oil in an emulsifier.
Blend until it forms into mayo. Add more juice, if needed.
Divide in half and place in two separate bowls. Leave one mayonnaise plain. In the second bowl, stir in remaining horseradish sauce. Stir in ribeye rub and Worcestershire sauce to taste.
Spread the bottom of a baguette with plain peperoncini mayonnaise. Add 3-4 grilled filet strips. Add a spoonful of flavored peperoncini mayo.
Add 2-3 slices of horseradish bacon.
Add a hearty portion of asparagus slaw.
Top with a baguette top. Cut in half and serve.