Ultimate Recipe Showdown: A Taste of Victory

A new batch of home cooks will win $25,000 on Ultimate Recipe Showdown this month. See what happened to these previous champs...

Camilla Saulsbury, Nacogdoches, TX
Cookie Competition, Season 1
This recipe-contest superstar has won more than 40 competitions and earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process. The Exotic Spice Cookies she made for Showdown led to the publication of The Ultimate Shortcut Cookie Book ($25; Cumberland House). You could say that Camilla's homework has paid off: She got a Ph.D. in sociology in 2005 and wrote her dissertation on American home cooking.

 

Harold Cohen, Hollywood, FL
Burger Competition, Season 2
After winning with his pimiento burgers, this retired plastic surgeon (who also placed third in a Sutter Home burger competition) donated all of his prize money to educational scholarships. He's not resting on his laurels: The self-described "legally blind geezer" qualified for the third season of Showdown, and he'll be up against some close competition: his son Michael.  

 

Rick Massa, Simi Valley, CA
Comfort Food Competition, Season 2
This retired LAPD SWAT officer, who now works security at Burbank Airport, has been cooking more than ever since his five-cheese macaroni took the prize. He was named Employee of the Quarter at the airport, in part for all the catering he does for his coworkers, and he recently hosted a dinner for more than 100 SWAT officers and their families. "Everybody asks me to do the mac and cheese," he says. "I'm making it in my sleep now."

 

Janice Kollar, Woodstock, NY
Cake Competition, Season 1
Janice's winning dish was a decadent chocolate layer cake, and it spent a year on the T.G.I. Friday's menu. So we were surprised to learn that she spent the past year developing a line of vegan, gluten-free baked goods. "I needed an alternative for myself," she says. "All the butter and sugar is addictive, and once I start, I can't stop."

 

Kristine Snyder, Kihei, HI
Burger Competition, Season 1
The first thing Kristine did after her Hawaiian ahi burger netted $25,000 was upgrade her flight home to first class. Then she really splurged. "I bought an electric harp," she says. "I wanted it so badly, but harps are expensive. It was a real treat." Especially since it's her third one. She's a professional harpist and plays up to 20 weddings a month, but between gigs, she perfects recipes for new food competitions.

 

Julie Hession, Las Vegas
Cake Competition, Season 2
Julie, a freelance food writer, saw a huge spike in traffic on her baking blog (peanutbutterandjulie.com) after her Double Chocolate Malt Shop Cupcakes came in first place. But lately she's been spending more time in the kitchen than at the keyboard: Las Vegas Whole Foods stores recently started carrying her citrus granola. "I'm really excited that it's selling," she says. "But I'm up to my arms in granola!"