Cook of the Week

How to apply

Interested participants should apply using the online application. Deadline to apply is Wednesday, August 26 at 11:59 p.m.


We’re looking for people who love to cook, have fun in the kitchen, feel adventurous when facing new or unusual ingredients and can commit to the few weeks of the challenge this fall.

All eight cooks will begin the contest and the Cook of the Week Challenge will resemble those popular television cooking contests.

Everyone faces the same basket of secret ingredients each week and creates a dish showcasing the ingredients. Our panel of celebrity chefs, former contestants, and food professionals will pass judgment and eliminate one cook each week.

In each of the four weeks of elimination cooking, challengers get three (3) days, in their own homes, to create recipes. Take this time to research, trial and error and subjecting friends and family to be taste testers. Besides the cooking, the focus should be on clear and detailed recipe writing as the judges won’t sample the elimination round entries. The prize packages, while different each year, are a traditional draw. In years past the Cook of the Year has gone home with kitchen appliances, gadgets and other prizes of more than $1,500.

At the end of September, we’ll introduce our eight contestants to readers in the Daily Herald paper and online. The first week of October you can read about the competition, hear from the cooks about their experiences in the challenge and see what our judges have to say about each recipe.

So, Week 1: Eight cooks compete, and our judges will eliminate one person. Week 2: Seven cooks face off. Week 3: Six cooks remain and so on until just four cooks are left and heading for the live finale.

Final event details to come.


The recipes should be for an entree, a side dish, a one-pot meal or a dessert. You decide on the best use of each week’s secret ingredients.

Judges will evaluate your written recipes on the use of ingredients, creativity, appearance (from a photo you’ll send directly to the judges) and perceived taste. Remember, you are creating a recipe that other home cooks will want to make in their own kitchens.

For publication, you will have to plate one portion/serving of your finished dish (the prettier the better) and submit photos of the completed dish.

Mystery Basket Ingredients

Some of the ingredients will be provided by our sponsors and will be available for pickup at our Arlington Heights office (conveniently located right off I-90). We will let you know if you need to bring a cooler as some of the products might be perishable.

A $25 gift card for our sponsor’s grocery store will be included in each basket in order to supply any other ingredients you might need.

Check out the competition from 2019

Cook of the Week 2019