PROVIDENCE, R.I., Oct. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- HP Hood today named Mary Jo Fletcher LaRocco of North Kingstown, Rhode Island, the $10,000 grand prize winner in the 4th Annual Hood® New England Dairy Cook-Off®. Mary Jo won with her recipe for Cranberry Limoncello Tarts in a Gingersnap Hazelnut Crust. The Cook-Off was held at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, Rhode Island, on October 21st.
"I have been competing in the Cook-Off since it started four years ago and have been vying for the Grand Prize ever since," said Mary Jo Fletcher LaRocco. "I have always loved to cook and create new recipes for my family and friends and am so excited I finally won the $10,000."
"As always, the Cook-Off was an exciting and fun event and we enjoyed meeting all of the semifinalists and their supporters. They put such passion into their recipes and it really showed," said Lynne Bohan, Vice President of Public Relations, HP Hood. "The recipes gave our judges a challenge in selecting a winner but ultimately, Mary Jo Fletcher LaRocco's recipe best met all of the judging criteria. The Cranberry Limoncello Tarts were a great combination of creativity and amazing presentation."
The competition began at 7:30 a.m. when 30 semifinalists competed in their individual categories. The five categories were: breakfast/brunch, soups/chowders, appetizers/side dishes, lunch/dinner (entree) and dessert. One amateur chef from each New England state competed in each category. Competitors had 60 minutes to prepare and plate their dishes. All recipes were original and included at least one Hood dairy product and were judged based on taste appeal, presentation/appearance, and creativity/originality.
By 6:30 p.m., a panel of judges helped narrow the field from 30 semifinalists to five finalists. They were:
Breakfast/Brunch: Jean Dziedzinski of Chelmsford, MA – Late Summer Layered Crustless Quiche
Soups/Chowders: Kevin Towle of Gonic, NH – Heaven & Hell Chowder
Appetizers/Side Dishes: Forrest White of Williston, VT – Acorn Squash'n'Blossom Fritter with Vichyssoise Shooter
Lunch/Dinner (Entree): William Gillard of Damariscotta, ME – Ocean Bounty Creamery
Dessert: Mary Jo Fletcher LaRocco of North Kingston, RI – Cranberry Limoncello Tarts in a Gingersnap Hazelnut Crust
Billy Costa from the New England Cable News show "TV Diner" hosted the event as the finalists went head-to-head in front of a live audience for the $10,000 grand prize. Shaw's Supermarket was once again the Official Supermarket of the event.
The final round judges included Celebrity Chef Michele Ragussis; Chef Branden J. Lewis, Instructor, Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Arts; Peggy Poole, Vice President of Quality Systems and Regulatory Affairs, HP Hood; Cindy Salvato, Chef and founder of Savoring Rhode Island culinary walking tours; and David Dadekian, Eat, Drink RI.
Each of the semi-finalists received a prize of $100; each of the finalists, except for the winner, received $500.
Founded in 1846, today Hood is one of the largest branded dairy operators in the United States. Hood is the number-one dairy brand in New England, and Hood's portfolio of national and super-regional brands and franchise products includes Hood, Crowley Foods, Simply Smart Milk, Heluva Good!, LACTAID®, BAILEYS® Coffee Creamers, HERSHEY®'S Milk and Milkshakes and Blue Diamond Almond Breeze®. For more information about Hood, please visit www.Hood.com.
SOURCE HP Hood