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?
I think most of us must just go on appearing in places where we have had embarrassing moments, never quite rising to the heights of an actual crime.
Thank you! Very true. I may have been using crime in the theoretical sense. 🙂 But at the time it took some courage for me to return.
Congratulations on so many fronts, Devon! I spent the weekend in close proximity to my ex-husband and had one very unpleasant encounter with him two days ago that gave me a dose of PTSD. There’s a reason I exited from that marriage! I was never so glad to be divorced and have a decent guy to go home with. Whew!
Thanks, I really appreciate it! That is a return to a tough situation. Glad it was a relatively brief reunion, but I think it was for a grand cause!
Elder son’s marriage? You bet!
Congratulations! I think to really visit a “scene of the crime” in my past I’d have to go to a high school reunion, something I’ve refused to do since my 10-year. One was enough!
Now that’s a tough return! I’m betting you’ll knock ’em dead when you decide to go.
Congratulations, Devon, on this latest release. You are brave entering these competitions and especially returning to one that held such painful memories.
Thanks! Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment but I love cooking competitions. Hey, you can’t win ’em all and something keeps me coming back for more!
Welcome back, Devon! Who knew there was such a thing as a mushroom cook-off! How fun. And kudos to you for being brave enough to go back and WIN!
Thanks! There might be a cook-off for just about any ingredient out there if someone is willing to look hard enough. I choose the themes that speak to me, like mushrooms, because it get my creative juices flowing in the recipe creation process.
Congratulations on returning to a cook-off that held such painful memories for you. I must say, I find the idea of a cook-off centered around mushrooms very interesting. I had no idea such a competition existed.
Thanks! It’s such a fun cook-off, well, since I’ve placed in the last two, that is. The mushroom festival where the cook-off is held is mushroom heaven, thats for sure!
Sometimes, you do need time to heal a wound. Congrats on going back and your impressive wins. And congrats on the new book.
I feel like I used the experience to toughen my competitive skin, although it did take some time. The mushroom cook-off is so festive, centered around a full-on mushroom festival featuring every known use for mushrooms under the sun! Check it out, it’s in Kennett Square, PA, every September.
Not the scene of a crime, but after my dad died it was more than two years before I’d go in that room (in my mom’s house). Now I actually feel a certain peace and closeness to him when I’m in the room where he died. Congrats on the book — and the cooking competition, Devon!
Mine wasn’t exactly a crime either, but in both cases tough circumstances – yours being extremely tough. So glad you’ve been able to find the room a place of peace now.
That’s sounds like an amazing experience. It’s even better you shared your recipe, book, and experiences on tv afterwards.
I would love to attend or compete in a mushroom cook-off!
It is so much fun, you really need to give cook-offs a try. There was a first-timer competing this year and while he admitted being very nervous he did a fantastic job and I know he’ll be back. Good luck!
Congrats on the new book! I love the Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square. One year they featured mushroom ice cream. I had to try it. Hmmm …. I’ll stick with the soup!
That’s so amazing ! I am such a fan of themed festivals, ie apple, mushroom, oyster etc. Competed in all of those!
Congrats on the new book! I have often returned to places to improve my performance. Nothing wrong with improving the outcome.
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