Game Day Chef Challenge Countdown and my Conversation with Suzanne Clark

Suzanne Clark / FacebookFootball fans and foodies in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming the opportunity to compete for a grand prize of $25,000 in Chevron gift cards.  Contestants from these states can submit their go-to game day recipe that includes one or more ingredients purchased from a Chevron or Texaco station, at between August 1, 2015 and September 30, 2015.

The top six game day entries from each region (Northwest, Mountain, West, Gulf, Texas, and Southeast) will be selected to compete at the regional level.  Winners from each region will advance to the Game Day Chef Challenge Grand Finale Cook-Off held prior to the big game at the Rose Bowl Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Pasadena, California. The winner of the Game Day Chef Challenge Grand Finale Cook-Off will win a grand prize of $25,000 in Chevron gift cards.

With last year’s Game Day Chef Challenge, Chevron caught the attention of the World Food Championships. This year, the Challenge will be a qualifying event for the 2016 World Food Championships.  In addition to all the great prizes of the Challenge, regional winners will receive a Golden Ticket from the World Food Championships to compete at the 2016 competition in Kissimmee, Florida.

game dayAlso new this year is the Game Day Chef Challenge Instant Win Game where all fans can play daily for the chance to win $20,000 in Chevron gift cards.  Participants can play the instant win game by downloading the free Chevron with Techron or Texaco with Techron mobile app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.  Players then ‘rub off’ three footballs on their mobile device to reveal matching tailgate ingredients to instantly win prizes. To play again, users must enable the GPS locator on their smart phone and go to a participating Chevron or Texaco station.  There is no purchase necessary to play the instant win game and prizes range in value from $25 to $100 with one grand prize of $20,000 in Chevron gift cards.

“There is a natural connection between football and food, whether fans are tailgating or entertaining at home,” said Don Walker, General Manager, Brand, Chevron. “Fun events like these allow us to establish a connection with the millions of sports enthusiasts throughout the U.S., and showcase the variety and quality of the products available at our retail sites.”

Participants must be 18 years or older at the time of entry and a resident of Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington or Wyoming.

For official rules and information,  click here

SClarkCompetitive cook and TV personality, Suzanne Clark (“The World Food Championships” mini-series on the FYI Network and “Celebrity Sweat” Vegas edition on AXS TV) was in Seattle promoting the Game Day Chef Challenge and we took the opportunity to sit down and chat.

Suzanne’s enthusiasm for her work is energizing, her demeanor refreshingly open and honest. I look forward to see more of Suzanne’s work as her career sky-rockets.

Suzanne Clark is a home cook and lifestyle expert who loves to infuse creativity into everything she does. As a highly awarded home cook and a mother of five, she proves you do not have to be a professional trained chef to create incredible meals. Suzanne is in town to talk about the second annual Game Day Chef Challenge, which she was a regional finalist.

Q: When you are presented with a new challenge, a new recipe to create, what is first on your task list? What are the first questions you put before yourself and how do you begin to prepare?

A: Research-always research! Whether I am entering a contest, doing a television segment or developing a recipe for a food company, I always start by visiting their website to get a feel for their style of food and photos. I also read through the requirements looking for clues and ideas. I try to determine is this a recipe for their website, to be served at a restaurant, or are they looking for a new concept? This helps lead me in the right direction. I also research food trends and constantly, read magazines and cookbooks, and visit restaurants to keep up with current food styles and popular recipes.

Q: You had the opportunity to visit Seattle’s Pike Place Market and your goal was to find a local ingredient for your next recipe challenge/contest. Is this a usual step in designing your recipes? Do you often look for inspiration while shopping?

A: I always feel that the right ingredient is always out there waiting for me to find it. It is almost like going on a treasure hunt. As an artist, I have a different way of creating and pulling together recipes.  I look at the whole concept as I create. How is it going to look when it is plated, how will I photograph it, are the textures and flavors inviting, is it something new and exciting? These are all questions I ask myself while designing a new recipe. I feel that the details are what make my dishes a bit different than others. It is all part of the creative process.

For example, for The Game Day Chef Challenge, I visited a few Chevron convenience stores to browse the aisles and feel inspired by the variety of unique ingredients available at each store. Repurposing and substituting traditional ingredients for new ones are what give me an edge. In a world where we have access to so much via internet, sometimes it is hard to find a recipe that is new and innovative. People listen when you use beef jerky, peach ice tea and potato chips from a Chevron to create a chicken sandwich. It is different, playful and fun. This is the kind of recipe you want to serve to excite the conversation at your next football party!

Q: While you were chatting with New Day’s Margaret Larson, you mentioned, pushing yourself. Is this your everyday motto? Push yourself how?

A: I push myself constantly to be bigger and bolder every day. I do what I am doing today, simply because I can!  There was a time that I could not. After a long term illness, I committed myself to doing all that I can with the gifts and talents that I have been given. Not one day goes by that I do not remember how my life could have been. This doesn’t mean it is always easy, in fact some days it is very hard to be motivated. That is when I remember and learn from my past, and I push even harder. I have a room full of pictures of friends and family, awards, and items that help me feel motivated. This helps lift me when I need a jump start!  Artwork and creating recipes have always been my lifeline. I look at it as my therapy.

Q: Creating innovative flavors means thinking outside the box and with so many entries in cooking contests, how do you keep that edge to stay in front of the pack?

A: Again, it is back to the research! Organization has always helped me keep my thoughts in order. I keep a file box with tons of recipe ideas that I write down or tear out of magazines. It may be just a note to remind me of that fabulous dish I ate at a new restaurant last month. It could be a picture I drew of a new plating idea. I find ideas in different places-sometimes even my kids give me ideas!  Entering contests also exposes me to new ingredients and possibilities. Because of contests, I have become a pro at cooking duck and bison. This year at The World Food Championships I will be using truffles. Because of The Game Day Challenge I will always brine my chicken in Sprite; the list goes on and on! I use these new found skills and ingredient knowledge to develop new recipes for competitions. I always have an open mind and a willingness to try something new.

Q: How often do you find yourself on the road for appearances and what is your secret to successfully balancing career and family life?

A: I am very fortunate to have married my best friend, my biggest supporter, and love of my life. We both equally share in raising the children. That is a big job, we have five! He takes over whenever I leave, and I do the same for him when goes out of town. We have made it through many tough times and we are always there to support each other. Even when I am home and he sees I have a lot to do, he is the first to suggest getting a pizza that night, or helping with dishes. He is often my cameraman, food taster and proof reader. I can always count on him, he is always there when I need him.

I also try to make the kids feel special by including them in recipe development and different events and projects in which I participate. I will ask them for ideas, have them taste various dishes and listen to their feedback and opinions. My daughter Alivia at the age of 12 is now following in my footsteps. She has had her recipes published several times, has done television segments with me and has even entered cooking competitions. Making the whole family part of the plan is key. It is definitely a family effort!

Q: The Game Day Chef Challenge pushes people to be creative and use unusual ingredients in their dishes. Last year you won this challenge with a delicious and intriguing recipe. How did you come up with the idea of brining your chicken in sprite?

A: “Theming” my recipes are something I like to do. It keeps me on track and helps me develop new ideas. This recipe was based on my summers spent on my Aunt and Uncles farm in Kentucky.  My Aunt Opal would always brine her chicken before frying. The brine consisted of buttermilk, lemon juice, sugar, salt and spices. When I saw some Sprite at Chevron, a light went on.  Sprite has citrus flavors and sugar; I knew this would be the ticket! When I tried the first time, I couldn’t believe how fabulous it was. I also think the citric acid helps break down the chicken and makes it extra juicy and tender. This is a recipe that my Aunt Opal would have certainly approved of. I can just imagine her buying her ingredients at her local Chevron; she would have been the talk of the town with this “innovative” ingredient! I seriously will never make chicken any other way. This is a good example of how cooking competition have changed the way I think and cook. They  really do push you to think outside of the box and to explore new possibilities!

Watch Suzanne in “Game Day Chef Challenge” action and follow Suzanne Clark on Facebook. 

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