By Jennifer Nibley
On Saturday, two BYU employees won the Utah State 2004 Dutch Oven Championship Cook-off at Gateway Mall in Salt Lake City.
“The food [at the championship] is normally better than the average cook-off,” said Bruce Tracy, 2004 Dutch Oven World Champion and competition judge. “There was some really good stuff here – some world-class food.”
Judges awarded a first, second and third place for each food category and for an overall category.
“The overall category winner is the Utah State Champion,” said Ed Quinlin, co-chair of the competition.
Debbie Auxier, executive MBA program secretary, and her husband Ben Auxier, custodial supervisor of the Clyde Building, won four ribbons including first place overall.
This is the first statewide Dutch oven cook-off championship for Utah, said Todd Carter, event chairman.
“It”s never been done before,” he said.
Carter realized while visiting state and world Dutch oven championships that Utah is the “Mecca of Dutch ovens” yet did not have a state championship competition, so he started to organize the event.
“We don”t want quantity, we want quality,” Carter said. “We want the best cooks to compete so that the person that gets the crown is truly the state champion.”
Carter invited ten amateur Dutch oven teams who live in Utah and had received blue ribbons in other Dutch oven competitions to compete for the Utah State Champion title. Each team was required to make bread, a dessert and an entr?e for the competition.
The Auxiers cooked Tangy Crown Roast with Vegetable Medley, Rolls Supreme and Old Jack”s Southern Pecan Pie.
In addition to winning first place overall, the Auxiers won first place for bread, second place for entr?e and second place for dessert.
This competition had the largest purse for a Dutch oven cook-off, with a total of over $5,000 in cash and prizes donated by 42 community businesses, Carter said.
For the overall win, they received a $1,000 cash prize and a couple of trophies in the form of 5-inch Dutch ovens, Debbie Auxier said.
The Auxiers also received a $200 gift certificate to Sur La Table, a night at the Anniversary Inn, pearl earrings, a Love Sac, free cooking classes and more.
The Auxiers have entered Dutch oven cook-offs since their September 2002 wedding and won six or seven blue ribbons last year, Ben Auxier said.
“When we were dating, we went to a couple of [Dutch oven] competitions and watched them,” he said. “We thought it would be something that we could do together.”
Debbie Auxier said they both love to cook and her husband loves to compete, so they decided to enter competitions.
“We spend a lot of time looking at recipes and deciding what would present [to judges] really well,” Debbie Auxier said. “What tastes really good is No. 1.”
Food cooked in Dutch ovens taste better because of negative pressure created while cooking, which keeps the smell of the food inside, Tracy said.
“The average person that comes [to Dutch oven competitions] understand that it is a competition and it is fun to watch,” Tracy said. “But then when they see the level of the food that comes out of a cast iron camping pot – it”s a little bit amazing.”