The Main Event- 4 Days, and Counting

By Keith Fisher

Note: the author of this blog has not been compensated for mentioning any products or comercial enterprize.

We’ve been talking about the IDOS WCDOCO, or Worlds, as some of us call the Championship Dutch oven cook off. I hope you’re getting excited to see who wins. Remember the semi finals begin on Thursday March 18, but the finals are on Saturday.

We’ve been interviewing Ranes Carter. As the chairman of the cook off, he’s the go to guy. Shall we continue with our questions? By the way, I felt sorry for him last night, and let him go home. It was something in his pathetic eyes.

Ranes, let’s talk about the event. According to my calculations, this year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of The World Championship Dutch oven cook off. That’s quite an accomplishment.

Yeah, The event was held at another location and had a different title in the past, but it has been considered the big event of the year for many years. I'm not certain at what point the cook-off moved to the ISE show, or, when the title of the event was changed to World Championship Cook-Off. There is a list of past champs in the IDOS forums starting with 1990, and there is a plaque with a list of names from 1990 until today. The names Keith and Wendy Fisher are listed as the 2005 World Champs. Those names sound familiar to me for some reason.

Yes, it’s an honor to be part of the group. As I understand it, the event started out on the USU campus, I remember when we cooked in a tent behind the Jensen Historic Farm in Wellsville, Utah. We were part of the Festival of the American West then. Just for the record, we moved to the ISE show in 2002, but what is the process, how does a cook qualify to compete in this event?

There are a couple of ways. You can win an IDOS sanctioned cook off. Or be nominated by your IDOS chapter.

In order for a cook-off to be considered an IDOS sanctioned event, the cook-off must meet a few basic requirements. First, the contestants must cook at least a main dish, a bread dish, and a dessert. Other dishes can be made, but those three are required. Second, the teams and the cook-off must follow any local or state health codes. Third, you must have fun.

A local cook-off has the freedom to vary in regards to rules and requirements. The rules could require teams to use a specific ingredient, like beef. Or the regulations might allow more than two members in a team. Or they might require that each team prepare side dish.

Many cook offs will include a "Youth" or "Novice" category and require a main dish, or bread from those categories. Each cook off director has the freedom to mix things up a bit and make the cook-off unique and fun. Many events will attempt to follow the official WCCO rules to keep the event consistent with the WCCO.

In those remote areas where cook offs take place less often, or not at all, IDOS chapters have the option to nominate a team to enter the WCCO.

And some of those chapters hold their own little cook off to determine who gets chosen, right? How many teams are scheduled to compete in the event this year? And where do they come from?

There were 23 teams that registered before the 31 December deadline. Then, a couple of teams had to be turned down because they missed the dead line. One of those 23 teams, are Terry Lewis and his daughter Tori. As last year's champions, they will compete during the Finals on Saturday.

Two of the 23 teams that registered had to back out recently for personal reasons. This leaves 20 teams for the Semi Finals. 10 of those will compete on Thursday, 18 March. The other 10 will compete on Friday, 19 March. Five teams from Thursday and five teams from Friday will move on to compete against last year's champs on Saturday. Terry is the only two-time World Champ. His first win was in back in 1996.

Most of the teams are from the surrounding states of Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Arizona (the two teams that dropped out were both from Arizona). One team is from Iowa. Another is from Louisiana, and we have two teams coming from Canada.

Wow. They are from all over. I remember a team from Japan. I think it was in 2001. It’s great that we invite the winners from last year to come back and defend their title now. Wendy and I were the first team to be able to that, you know. We didn’t have to qualify for 2006.

So, Besides the prestige of winning, What are the prizes this year?

The biggest offered prize is cash. The first place team will earn $2,500, second place is $1,000, third place is $750, fourth is $500, and fifth is $250. The remaining six finalist will get $100 each. Lodge and Camp Chef will both offer prizes. But the biggest prize of all is the title of World Champ. This year, it will be a difficult title to earn and will be well deserved. This will not be an easy competition.

Yeah, it’s getting harder each year. Part of me is glad I’m not competing. I’m thrilled, though, to see prizes for anything lower than third place. That’s how it used to be, but there was a time when that didn’t happen.

Once again we ran out of time, but as a spectator you might me wondering, “What’s in it for me?” Come back tomorrow and we’ll ask Ranes.

What’s that? Yes, Ranes, One more day. Don’t worry I’ll make it worth your while. After all, what would the police say if I told them . . .?

See you tomorrow folks.


The Main Event-5 Days and Counting

By Keith Fisher

Note: The enclosed interview has been slightly edited, any brand names have been noted, but neither, the author, or the interviewer has been compensated for mentioning the names.

We are continuing our, World Championship Dutch Oven Cook Off, series today. Incidentally, that’s WDOCO, or WCCO for all you acronym loving folks, and just plain, Worlds, for those who compete. The world championship has always been a big dance, ever since the concept of Dutch oven competitions came to be. There are other cook offs with bigger prizes, but this cook off is the main event.

Today, we are following a busy man, waiting for a melt down. As the director of the cook off, Ranes Carter is the man of the hour. With so many details to take care of, you can image how busy he is right now, but I tossed a rope on him to ask a few questions.

Ranes, How long have you been involved in Dutch oven cooking? Have you competed?

I consider myself a culinary professional, though a former professional is a better title. I started my culinary career as a dishwasher, then a side cook. I joined the military and was a cook for the General's Mess Hall in the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, NC.

I followed my military career by going to Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts where I was valedictorian of my class. I only brag because I wasn't the best student in high school and seemed to really excel in the culinary arts program. My last professional cooking job was as a catering manager for what is now Utah Valley University. It was Utah Valley State College during the time I worked there, 1996 to 1997.

In all those years of cooking, I was aware of cast iron skillets, but had never been introduced to a Dutch oven. Oh, how I wish I would have known about Dutch ovens sooner. I can think of many private parties that would have been so much better with some Dutch oven cooking.

A few years back, the fall of 2005, my family and I started taking Sunday afternoon drives in the mountains. This brought back memories of camping from my younger years and I felt the need to get back out in the outdoors. I started researching camp cooking and came across the hobo stove and a few other homemade items. My buddy and boss asked why I didn't use a Dutch oven.

A week later, I had a boxed set of cast iron from Sam's Club. The set contained a 12-inch flat bottom Dutch oven, a skillet, and a griddle all with bags. There was a hot pad and lid lifter included. All of this was in a wooden crate and only 40 bucks. That Wenzel brand Dutch oven is still my favorite. I now have about 15 Dutch ovens ranging from a 5-inch (candle ovens) to a 16-inch and a few in between.

After getting my Wenzel, I posted a question about Dutch Oven cooking on a local, hobby forums. UTAG to be exact. The response was a link to IDOS. Reading the IDOS forums, I learned of a few local Dutch Oven cook-offs in the summer of 2006. One of those was in Springville, Utah where I got to watch Scott Clawson and his brother David. Little did I know how much this encounter would mean.

That fall, September 2006, I entered my first Dutch Oven cook-off. It was the Weber County cook-off held by Bruce Tracy, the 2004 IDOS WCCO champ. I didn't own a cooking table and only owned a couple of ovens. I make breaded chicken served with multi colored pasta and ratatouille for my main dish. My bread, which I wasn't required to make as a novice, was Rhodes dough rolled in ranch dressing powder. My dessert was a pumpkin cake that was a little more advanced than a dump cake. During the cook-off, I noticed most people served their dishes on an inverted lid. I flipped over my Pumpkin Cake on a lid and found I had pumpkin pudding instead. I pressed the mass into a pie like shape and presented it anyway. I doubt anyone has scored as low as I did, during that cook-off. So much, for me being a professional.

The next weekend, I competed in the Salt Lake County Cook-Off chaired by Lance Kingsford, the 1993 IDOS WCCO champ. I made Chicken Cordon Bleu with a smoked gouda and mushroom duxelle cream sauce. It was out of this world. My bread was Rhodes dough rolled in a chipotle ranch dressing powder. My dessert was an chocolate Amish Friendship bread with sliced bananas and strawberries. I did MUCH better on my second attempt.

I still didn't own a Dutch oven cooking table and ended up borrowing one from Scott Clawson. At the time, Scott was the director of the Storm Mountain Chapter of IDOS. Scott brought up the Storm Mountain chapter and the membership fee for IDOS during the day. I felt some obligation and appreciation for the loan of Scott's cooking table and ended signing up for IDOS that day. I guess I have Scott to blame for everything that has happened since then.

Later that year, I started thinking of holding my own cook-off. Living in Lehi, I knew about the Lehi Rodeo that takes place the last week in June. In January of 2007, I started working on my first cook-off. That June, I chaired the 2007 Lehi Rodeo Round Up Cook-Off. This event was different than many of the other local cook-offs and just might have changed the way many of the local cook-offs are ran today.

In February of 2007, I was elected as the Assistant Director to the Storm Mountain Chapter. I think I sort of took over the Storm Mountain Chapter from there.

That March, I was a cook's assistant for Omar Alvarez and Dian Mayfield at the 2007 IDOS WCCO. Scott Clawson and his brother, David, won the cook-off that year. In April, I had a vendor booth at the Spring Convention selling Volcano Ovens and Blair's brand potato chips.

That fall, I teamed up with Shawn Conlin, son of Ross and Angie Conlin. Ross was the IDOS President from 1994 to 1998. Shawn wanted to go to World's, so we competed almost every weekend for five or six weekends in a row. We finally won the last cook-off of the year.

As a former professional, I knew I would not be allowed to compete at World's. Later that year, I held a "Last Chance" cook-off for the Storm Mountain Chapter. This was a cook-off to qualify a team for the WCCO and a chance for the Storm Mountain Chapter to nominate a team. Ted Cromer came in second place and Shawn asked Ted Cromer to compete with him in 2008. Dian and Omar won the WCCO in 2008.

In that year, I ran the second Lehi Rodeo Cook-Off, which was even better than the 2007 event. That March, I was a cook's assistant for the WCCO and Cast Iron Chef Challenge on Sunday. That April, 2008, I ran the Taste of Dutch for the IDOS Spring Convention. Kent Rappleye was elected President of IDOS that year. A few months later, during the Camp Chef DOG event the first weekend in June, Kent asked if I would be willing to run the 2009 IDOS WCCO.

I was floored and a little shocked. I took a month or so before I finally agreed.
Since then, I’ve become the IDOS cook-off liaison, the IDOS forums moderator, and I am the 2010 IDOS WCCO Chair.

Hard to believe that I had not heard of a Dutch Oven five years ago. In that five years, I have competed in about 7 or 8 cook-offs, held 4 local cook-offs of my own, been a field judge or food judge in many cook-offs, I became the cook-off liaison for IDOS, I became the forums moderator, and I am again the chair for 2010. And, I am working with the Spring Convention Committee for 2010. I have been in communication with Dutch Oven cooks from all over the world. I’ve made friends that might last my lifetime and I’ve learned a lot about myself. I can only hope that I’ve been a valuable asset to IDOS.

And you have. Wow, that was quite a story. I didn’t know you trained professionally. Looks like you met all the right people, and they helped you along the way. Cooking with Dutch ovens in Camp is a different experience. Thanks for showing my readers how easy it is, to get started.

Well, we’ve run out of time for today. But I’ll be back tomorrow with more of our interview. In the mean time, take your cast iron out of your food storage and start cooking. Then plan on attending the cook off. Ask your questions. The cooks are friendly.

Uh, what’s that, Ranes? Don’t worry I’ll untie you after the interview. Meanwhile I think I’ll make a cobbler. Don’t worry, Ranes, I’ll give you some. :)


The Cooks are Raring to go

By Keith Fisher

"Are you ready to Rumble?" This question asked at many Jazz basketball games, Ought to be asked next week. The annual IDOS World Championship Dutch Oven Cook off is slated for March 18, 19, and 20. It will be part of the ISE Outdoor Expo in Sandy Utah.

2010 will mark the silver anniversary of this event. It started in 1985, on the USU campus in Logan, Utah and has been the jewel in the crown of many a Dutch oven cook.

Sorry, though, because of heatlth department and contractual reasons, the cooks can't provide samples. but you can hob nob with the best and learn their secrets. Also, there are classes coinciding with the cook off to help anyone learn how to have fun with Dutch ovens.

Keep an eye on this blog for more information, news, interviews and prize giveaways. until then, there is more info on the
IDOS website