by Barb, who is on a writing retreat at home (i.e. her husband is traveling)
Last April we had a lot of fun when Devon Delaney visited the Wickeds to tell us about her (and her protagonist’s) hobby of competing in cooking competitions. Back then, we celebrated the release of Expiration Date. Now Final Roasting Place, the next book in Devon’s Cook-off Mystery series, is out and we’ve invited her back.
Take it away, Devon!
Someone, somewhere coined the phrase, “you can never go back.” Don’t believe it -not true. People who commit crimes often go back to the scene of the crime, but it isn’t wise because the chances of getting caught increase, I’d imagine. I went back to a place that held only bad memories for me, and that led me back to the scene of the crime I’d only been to in the pages of my book, Final Roasting Place. Let me explain.
Two weekends ago, I competed in the National Mushroom Cook-off. The Mushroom Cook-off holds a special place in my heart for a few reasons. Number one – I love mushrooms and adoring the sponsor’s required ingredient always gives me a boost of creativity that propels me well on my way to a better recipe entry. Number two – I was the Grand Prize winner last year with my Bon Vivant Mushroom and Chicken Crepes, putting me in the enviable position of being the defending champion. Third reason – the Mushroom Cook-off is the sight of my most epic failure in the history of my cooking competitions.
Here’s how that went down. Four years ago, I entered the Mushroom Cook-off with what I considered a well-balanced recipe showcasing the required fungi. A few months later, I was notified I’d made the finals. Problem was, I had entered two recipes and the voicemail on my phone didn’t specify which recipe was chosen, so I went to the cook-off prepared to make one recipe only to find out it was the other the judges chose. I had all the wrong ingredients with me. I immediately went into panic mode. Luckily, the officials let me prepare the unselected recipe, but because of the circumstances the final result wasn’t my best effort. I still cringe when I think about the embarrassment I felt.
Fast forward a year – the time came and went to enter the annual mushroom contest again. I couldn’t do it. I froze when I saw the entry blank. I had plenty of ideas but I wasn’t ready to revisit something I had messed up so badly. The fine folks who put on the event were probably still talking about my lack of preparation and overall stupidity for not double-checking important details such as the actual recipe that was to represent me as a proficient mushroom cook! If they saw my name on the entry form they would surely delete the email instantly. But, thank goodness, the old adage, “time heals all wounds”, kicked in the next year and I entered the contest with a renewed sense of “put the past to rest”. I was chosen, once again, as a finalist.
I returned to Kennett Square, PA, the mushroom capital of the United States, with a confident swagger and took my place at my designated cook-off contestant area. An hour later, I was the Queen of All Things Mushroom. This year I took second place, solidifying the Mushroom Cook-off as officially one of my favorite cook-offs.
When I returned home with trophy in hand, I had a sense of urgency to reach out to our local TV news channel, which runs a daily feature, “Chef’s Quick Tips”, to let them know not only was I a recipe contest winner but their station was the inspiration for the setting for my soon-to-be-released book, Final Roasting Place. Why? Because I wanted to the return to the scene of my book’s crime, not as the author, but as a participant in a real life story. A first time return, of sorts. The host of the segment invited me to come cook on-air and hawk my book, not aware New 12 Connecticut was literally the scene of the crime. I would be saving the nugget of information about the ambitious young news anchor at the station falling victim to murder in the midst of an on-air cook-off for a more opportune time – say, just as we were about to start filming.
I’ve visited television stations for various cooking related activities but I was beyond excited to set foot in the station depicted on the cover of my book. (See photo.) The News 12 setting in my book was born from the vision I formed while watching the local broadcast from the comfort of my playroom couch. Cooking on camera with the young ambitious host interviewing me was like stepping into the pages of my own book, a bit surreal. While it was my first time at News 12 it was a return to the scene of the literary crime. The crime my main character, Sherry, finds herself embroiled in. I’m glad to report I got through the taping of the segment without witnessing a murder, thank goodness, and without any terrible missteps reminiscent of the disastrous cook-off years ago.
Looking back, the experience of a cook-off gone horribly wrong was painful and took time to get over. But, a lot of good came out of the experience. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to ever repeat that mistake again but, if it ever happens again, I think I won’t wait two years to go back.
Thank you, Devon!
Readers: Have you ever returned to the scene of a former defeat or low point? How did that work out for you?