Soup Challenge Recap!


March 18, 2011 by Dana

I know, I know.  It’s about time I tell you about the New England Country Soup Challenge, right?  Here’s my recap of the event!

Let’s start from the beginning of the weekend….

My mom picked me up on Friday afternoon and we made the drive up to the Boston area.  We arrived just in time for Boston’s rush hour… which is a stroll in the park compared to NYC!  We checked into A Cambridge House Inn at Porter, the accommodations the New England Country Soup team arranged for us, and were ready for some dinner.

We waited what seemed like an eternity for a cab to show up, but was probably more like 30 minutes, (you’re not in Kansas NYC anymore, Dorothy)  and headed to the highly recommended Grafton Street Pub.

This happened to be the perfect pick for me and my mom.  It was mom’s birthday, and all she wanted was some Boston seafood, and I wanted… well, anything but seafood.  Luckily this place accommodated our needs perfectly.  Mom got the Seared Day Boat Scallops with butternut squash puree, and I got the Toasted Chickpea Burger with yogurt cucumber sauce and grilled naan.   We treated ourselves to a delicious Apple Cobbler with Cinnamon Ice Cream for dessert.

Everything was totally delicious!  I would definitely recommend the Grafton Street Pub to anyone in the Caimbridge area!  The food was all amazing, and the atmosphere is perfect for a low key gastro-pub kind of meal.

We walked around the area after dinner, which included checking out the huge used book section of the Harvard Bookstore.  The used cookbook section was awesome!  I couldn’t help but buy one on the way out.  The Mayo Clinic Cookbook, to be exact.

The cab ride back to the hotel miraculously took half the time as it had taken us to get there…. I’m thinking the first cab driver knew we were from out of town since we were coming from a hotel, so he added a little extra driving time to the route.  (Maybe it’s not so different from NYC afterall…).

We got back to the hotel and I fell asleep immediately.  I had a big day coming up!

Saturday morning, mom and I woke up early.  We got ready, packed up our stuff, and headed downstairs for breakfast.  There we heard one of the other guests, Jasmine, talking about the Soup Challenge.  We introduced ourselves and started making small talk about the contest.

Jasmine went on to inform me that she knew 7 of the other 10 finalists from previous competitions they had entered before.  Then she rattled off all of the prizes each of them had won…. $10,000 for a cranberry recipe for so-and-so…. $10,000 for a Steak challenge for so-and-so…. $5,000 for a wine challenge for so-and-so………..

Are you getting the picture???  They were like practically professional food and recipe competitors!

I could feel myself getting more and more nervous.

Luckily, it was almost time to go to the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts for the competition.  Jasmine was in the first group of contestants, so she went to the CSCA and my mom and I went back upstairs to calm me down grab our stuff.

When we arrived at the CSCA, the first round of chefs were already well into their preparations, and the place smelled amazing.  The room was set up with a display of the prizes in the back, and chairs lined up for spectators to watch the kitchen while we cooked.

Everyone from New England Country Soup was super nice and helpful.  They handed me and the other contestants our stylish hats and aprons, and explained the safety rules.

When it was finally my turn to cook, I took my place in the kitchen.

And now, please stay tuned for a montage of me looking nervous:

Nervously looking at the ingredient list

Nervously looking at what other contestants are doing

Nervously asking for another knife

Fake nervous smiling

Ok, enough being nervous!  Now it was time to work…




Less nervous smiling!

A few more nerves kick in when I think I’m running out of time…

Nervously looking at the clock…

But before I know it  the soup is done…

Soup’s on!

…and I’m plating for the judges!

Plating the soup…


After judging, we got a chance to taste some of the other soups.  My personal favorite was Denise’s Hearty Fra Diavolo Roasted Chicken Pomodoro Soup.

Then, the results were announced. Second place went to Jasmin for her Thai Spiced Lentil Butternut Soup.  And the winner was….. Elinor with her Pumpkin-Kissed Chicken Corn Chowder!

While I didn’t win (I ended up somewhere in the middle), I had such a great time participating in the event!  All of the other contestants were so nice and supportive when they found out it was my first competition.   All in all, I had such a blast… I can’t wait for my next competition ;)

Group Shot!

18 thoughts on “Soup Challenge Recap!

  1. What a fun experiece!!! I’m a little jealous. ;)

  2. coffee lover says:

    It was fun!!!!!!!!!! Great blog:)

  3. Awesome!!!! It looks like a lot of fun. What was your soup?
    I’m hardly ever in Cambridge but I’ll keep Grafton Street Pub in my mind the next time I’m there.

  4. Awesome! I would have been terrified! You didn’t look too nervous! Thanks for sharing with us! I still have to make the soup myself!

  5. Peggy says:

    Oh I think I would be shot up full of nerves too! You looked great and your soup did too! Definitely sounds like an awesome experience!

  6. Reeni says:

    I’m so proud of you! You did great and you rocked the hat! Your soup looks really good too. I was really routing for you to win!

  7. Reeni says:

    I meant to say rooting, oops!

  8. Liz says:

    Congratulations on being in the middle…that is a fabulous accomplishment! Loved your recap of the event…I’ll definitely be back to visit again :)

  9. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic says:

    So cool! I love the Chef’s hat. I live in a couple of blocks from Grafton Street bar, and often go there for drinks or brunch :)

  10. Kristen says:

    That sounds like so much fun. What a great experience for you and how nice to be able to share it with your mom.

  11. What an amazing event!!! Your soup looks so good! Nicely done!

  12. Joanne says:

    First of all, you totally ROCK just for getting into the finals! That must have been such an amazing experience. And I’m jealous that you got to go to Boston – my favorite city!

  13. Tes says:

    What a fun even! It sounds like a great experience, too. Your soup looks great…delicious :)

  14. jodiemomo says:

    Sounds like so much fun! Glad you had a great time!

  15. Wow that is such a cool experience to have lived. And you got to see a bit of the city. I thin you looked like a pro and I send you my congrats!

  16. What a great experience! Sounds like a fun (and nerve-wracking) challenge. Great-looking soup too!

  17. Danielle says:

    Congrats on a fun day! It was great meeting you–while we are hardly “professional” cooking contest participants, we do get to have a lot of fun together…I’m sure I’ll be seeing you at another cookoff soon!

  18. […] pretty standard.  PLUS, this recipe comes from the New Mayo Clinic Cookbook that I picked up on my trip to Boston, so it’s worth using all of the ingredients to get all of the healthy […]

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