The family that cooks together wins together – deliciously
Jul 28, 2017 11:42AM ● Published by City Journals Staff
Lisa Blodgett, middle, and daughter Katelyn won the 2016 Dutch oven world championship. (Lisa Blodgett/West Jordan)
Gallery: World Champions [4 Images] Click any image to expand.
World champions are humbly living in West Jordan. The Blodgett family has turned their passion for Dutch oven cooking into a delicious winning activity.
“We always enjoyed Dutch oven cooking when we went camping,” said Lisa Blodgett about the tasty hobby she enjoys with her husband, Brian. Back in 2002, Brian was asked to go to the Salt Lake County Fair to help judge a Dutch oven contest.
The contests are sponsored by the International Dutch Oven Society (IDOS), headquartered in Salt Lake City. IDOS is a nonprofit organization with the goals of preserving and promoting the skills and art of Dutch oven cooking. IDOS describes the camp style of Dutch ovens as cast iron pots having three legs to hold the pot above the coals, as well as a rimmed lid to hold coals and keep the ashes out of the dish.
Brian came home from the contest and told Lisa about how awesome it was. So the next year the couple started competing. Their first child, Ben, was a baby then.
Contestants compete in either the novice, youth or advanced category. Novices cook a main dish and a dessert. The advanced level adds a bread, which is the hardest of the dishes to cook. The Blodgetts competed in the novice category for two years, then moved up to advanced.
After a few years, the Blodgetts qualified to go to the world Dutch oven competition. “That year I was pregnant with twins, so we couldn’t go,” said Lisa.
But Brian and Lisa kept cooking and earned their way back to the world contest in 2009. That first time, they took second place. In 2010, they won the championship.
The contests have usually been held here in Utah, in conjunction with the International Sportsman’s Expo in March.
Teams from all over the U.S. compete. While most of the teams are from Utah, teams come from all over including Alaska, Texas, California, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Internationally, teams from Japan and Australia have attended.
After the Blodgetts won the 2010 world championship, their kids were getting old enough to start cooking with them. At age 8, Ben competed with his older cousin in a few youth cook-offs. Then the parents started taking turns cooking with one of their twins, Katelyn and Tyler.
Ben and Lisa cooked in a competition in 2014 and won it. They went on to the world contest in 2015 and came in fifth place overall. The world contest is a two-day event. “They weed it down to five teams each day, and there’s the returning champs, so it’s down to 11 teams for the finals,” said Lisa.
Last year, Lisa and daughter Katelyn, 9 years old at the time, competed and won, advancing to the world competition. The mother/daughter duo won worlds, making them the reigning 2016 world champions. “We didn’t even think we had a chance,” said Lisa.
Lisa made some interested creations.
“The dishes that come out of these are quite gourmet,” she said.. “For our semifinals, we did a raspberry cheesecake. We made a jalapeno cheese bread, and lemon rosemary salmon. The presentation gets you a lot of points. For our finals, we had a chocolate raspberry cake, a rosemary olive asiago cheese bread that Kate decorated, and we did a beef Wellington for our main dish.”
Katelyn likes Dutch oven cooking because, “You get to be creative about it, and you get to cook with a friend or a sibling. It’s always exciting at the end when you find out what place you got — and when you get to taste all the other’s foods.”
Tyler said, “One of my favorite parts is eating the food. The food that we make is delicious.”
Things don’t always go smoothly in competition. Ben, now 14 years old, remembers a time when he competed with his dad.
“After we had baked our cake, I was a little tired, and I went to lean on the table with my elbow,” he said. “My elbow went right on the cake, smashing it down. So then we had to patch it together with frosting, and it had a huge blob in it that was just frosting.”
Tyler laughed about last year’s competition when Katelyn’s pants almost caught on fire. Katelyn said, “When I was stirring the sauce for the beef Wellington, the coals were on fire, and they were too close to my pants,” Lisa added. “It started melting her pants. It wasn’t really funny.”
How can fellow camp chefs improve? “The biggest tip that we share with people is heat management,” said Lisa.
Cooks need to understand how to distribute the coals on the oven. “If you are burning the food, it’s because you have too much heat on the bottom.” The formula Lisa uses is to double the number of the Dutch oven’s diameter, heat that many coals and put two-thirds of the coals on top. For example, if you have a 12-inch oven, double that number and heat 24 coals. Put two-thirds or 16 coals on top and one-third or eight coals on the bottom.
As the Blodgett family continues to cook their delicious creations and win championships, it looks like they have also found a valuable recipe for family unity.