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SALT LAKE CITY — Two Utahns with a passion for cooking took first place in their category at the World Food Championships in Las Vegas.
Murray resident, David Grover said his love of cooking began when he was around four years old. Grover would race home from preschool to watch “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” but he often had to wait until Julia Child’s cooking show was finished to enjoy his beloved TV show.
“That was the punishment, but it actually made (cooking) into (something) I’ve enjoyed and into a true passion that I’ve now got,” Grover said.
Grover said he works as a Salt Lake City compliance officer, but often enters cooking competitions as a hobby. He recruited his friend, Jamie Boyle, to become his cooking partner. After the pair won the World Dutch Oven Championships in March, they were invited to the World Food Championships.
The competition was held Nov. 12-18 in Las Vegas with over 400 teams participating. Grover said he and Boyle made three different dishes during the competition, but he credits using local, Heber Valley Artisan Cheese for their success.
“They sent us with a lot of their award winning cheeses to compete with,” he said. “I really believe that is what set us apart from everybody else ... It really gave us an edge, I think.”
Grover and Boyle participated in the Recipe category and added a flair to familiar dishes to help them win first place. For the first round, they cooked Chicken Cordon Bleu, but substituted the traditional ham and swiss cheese for bacon and smoked jalapeno cheddar cheese.
After advancing to the second round, the team was required to created an infused, cheese dish that was inspired by “south of the border,” Grover said. The Utahns decided on a lasagna, but they substituted the traditional red sauce with a chili verde sauce, and instead of using of pasta, they used fire-roasted corn tortillas. They also transformed the dish by using smoked pork tenderloin instead of beef.
For the third and final round, Grover said they were asked to make a dish that included cheese and potatoes.
“Us being from Utah, and our roots being in Dutch Oven cooking, we went ahead and did cheesy Dutch Oven potatoes,” Grover said. “And when we heard our name called for first place, we were shocked. That was so unexpected ... Our goal was to go and compete, cook and have fun. Winning was just a perk. That was out of sight.”
Grover said he and Boyle plan to use the money to compete in more cooking competitions and hope to defend their title at the World Food Championships in 2015.
Click here for some of Grover and Boyle's recipes.