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July 2, 2015

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Local culinary student among those competing at World Food Championships

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Ron Sylvester

Pora Tardy of Las Vegas makes braised lettuce wraps with chicken breading for the side dish competition during the World Food Championships on Saturday, Nov 3, 2012, at Bally’s casino.

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Dawn Watkins of Memphis, Tenn., is dressed colorfully to dish up chili made by her brother Mike Watkins of Gaithersburg, Md., during the World Food Championships on Saturday, Nov 3, 2012, at Bally's.

Down the street from where world-renowned French chef Herbert Keller had thrown a dinner for the release of a new cookbook the night before, culinary school student Pora Tardy meticulously wrapped braised lettuce around a breaded chicken in a parking lot just off the Las Vegas Strip.

Tardy attends the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Las Vegas, where she joined hundreds of competitors from across the country vying for $300,000 in prizes Saturday during the World Food Championships at Bally's casino.

"They came to our school and held auditions, so I entered," Tardy said.

Others qualified in smaller competitions from Maryland to California to cook at what Travel Channel food celebrity Adam Richman called an event that brings comfort food to the city known for gourmet feasts prepared by celebrity chefs.

"Usually, we only see people who are doing what we do," said Chris Yankee of Stockton, Calif., who came to compete for the $50,000 prize in the barbecue division. "We don't get to meet the people in the chili or potato salad events. I've met so many new people this week."

Winners in each of seven categories will move onto the final table judging Sunday in front of Caesars Palace, where Wolfgang Puck brought the first tastes of gourmet cuisine to Las Vegas 20 years ago.

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