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2013 World Food Champion


When 2013 World Food Champion Dave Elliott arrived in Las Vegas for the competition weekend, he didn’t expect to stay long. In fact, he only brought enough clothes to get him through one day of competing and had flight plans to leave the next morning. It’s the little self-negotiations we make internally to keep our expectations down. Keep things simple.  This is just a trip to Vegas.  Have a little fun.  Make a pie.  Play some slots and head back to “real life” in Kansas.  But most definitely, do not get your hopes up. 

But sure enough, as the days of competition progressed, Dave was still wearing the same shirt and jeans.

Elliott’s competitive cooking story began just four years prior to his World Food Championships win. With the exception of a handful of barbecue and grilling classes, Elliott’s culinary training is entirely self-taught. To date, he has competed in 42 contests but still considers himself a hobbyist. Someone who loves food and he loves to compete.  That’s what makes Dave Elliott’s Cinderella story so exciting.  Anyone with a great set of recipes, skill in the kitchen, a little luck and enough stamina to make it through each grueling round of competition can ultimately be standing on the stage, hoisting a championship trophy.

The 2013 World Food Championships was comprised of seven competition categories: barbecue, chili, burger, sandwich, pasta, bacon and dessert. More than 300 competitors would begin the tournament-style competition, which would eventually narrow down to seven category champions.  Elliott would represent the Dessert Category at the WFC Final Table.

To get to the Final Table, he would have to conquer three separate rounds of competition. Elliott’s signature dish, the first round challenge, was his signature peanut butter pie, loaded with, obviously, peanut butter, a bit of vanilla, chocolate and a handful of secret ingredients. This is same pie Elliott entered at the Septemberfest BBQ and Ribeye Steak Cookoff Challenge, and earned him qualification to the World Food Championships.

Each of Elliott’s world-class dishes were whipped up in the Kenmore® Kitchen Coliseum, which beautifully lined the world-famous Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las Vegas. 

“We needed the best equipment to help us win and Kenmore kitchen equipment helped us do just that!” said Elliott.  “It was durable, easy to use and looked fantastic.”

During the second round of the competition competitors are tasked with creating the same basic “Structured Build.” This challenge separates the men from the boys, as everyone in the Dessert category, for instance, was challenged to create their best batch of cookies. Through all of the cookies submitted to the judges, the competitors who are deemed the best managed to separate their cookie as the best of the best.

For the structured cookie round, Elliott and his mom, Jan, who doubled as his teammate, whipped up a batch of Midnight Delights – dark chocolate cookies with multiple types of chocolate and macadamia nuts, dipped in white chocolate and topped with chocolate sprinkles. The combination of Elliott’s signature, structured and infused builds hit the sweet spot with the judges, and earned him the opportunity to compete in the WFC Final Table. 

While seeming to ride flawlessly on a wave of great tasting entries and culinary skill, Elliott’s upcoming success story was being heavily influenced and inspired by the devastating news he received just 15 minutes prior to the first round – his father had passed. Elliott and his mom considered removing themselves from the competition, but knowing that his father would’ve wanted him to go on and finish the competition, Elliott channeled the disheartening news into culinary determination and continued baking in his father’s honor. 

“Mom’s Carrot Cake”, as Elliott affectionately calls his Final Table entry, is of the traditional variety with the addition of a few modifications to create the perfect combination of flavors, complete with Dole® crushed pineapple and a cream cheese frosting. Elliott describes the crushed pineapple as being a key ingredient to the winning dish.

“When I cook, I like to use simple, easy to use, quality ingredients. That’s what made this pineapple the perfect product for the job. The only thing we needed to do was drain the liquid from the can and it was perfect as is.” noted Elliott.

Elliott attributes his success at the World Food Championships to making great tasting dishes and is proud to have cooked the final day in memory of his father.

At the end of the weekend in Las Vegas, Elliott walked away with not only the coveted World Food Champion title, but knowing he made his father proud in his accomplishments – a feeling that’s undoubtedly more rewarding than anything else.

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