There are zillions of cook-offs, with prizes that run the gamut from jaw-dropping to shrug-the-shoulders. Pillsbury's Bake-Off Contest, arguably the most famous, nets the winner a million bucks; other competitions offer only bragging rights. Top Chef offers $200,000. (What's that after taxes, and just how much does it cost to open a restaurant these days? And how much do advertisers pay for a 30-second spot?) Rare is the contest that actually boost's a winner's career in a tangible way. Rarer still is the contest where a cook goes from nonentity to chef influencing what millions of people eat.
That's what seems cool about the Safeway Culinary Kitchens' Search for Our Next Chef contest. The winning chef's recipe for a "skillet meal" will be included in the grocery chain's Open Nature "100% natural" product line. The chef will go on to work full time for Safeway Culinary Kitchens, developing other Open Nature foods. For the kind of chef who wants to be a recipe developer for a big corporation, not bad, since typically it takes years to work your way up from culinary school to the place where the contest's winner will land.
Get busy: The deadline for entries (a résumé, recipe, photo, and "why I deserve this" statement) is March 7 (though the cook-off date has been moved to May 16). You'll probably need a little extra time to prepare, given that one of the judges is Alexandra Guarnaschelli, the buzzkill from Chopped. So good luck.
Image source: Screen grab from the contest video on Safeway's Facebook wall