Updated Tues., 6/5 – How does spending a week in Italy on an all-expenses-paid culinary arts tour sound? Nicolet College student Stephanie Kaether will get to do just that this summer for being the grand prize winner in a national culinary competition sponsored by Johnsonville Sausage.
Her recipe for “A Match Made in Manicotti heaven” was selected as the best from the hundreds of entries in Johnsonville’s Italian Inspiration recipe contest.
On top of the all-expenses-paid trip, Kaether will also get a $10,000 travel voucher, courtesy of Johnsonville Sausage, to spend as she likes during her travels.
Kaether, a Culinary Arts student at Nicolet, was driving home after a long day of classes when she got the phone call announcing the news.
“I couldn’t believe it. I had to pull over. I started crying. It was that awesome!” she said.
This summer she’ll redeem the grand prize and jet off to the Abruzzo region of Italy where she and a guest will immerse themselves in all things culinary. This will include organized excursions such as A Chef’s Tour of Carunchio with a Pastry Workshop; a Dining the Abruzzese Way Gourmet Dinner; three hands-on cooking classes and workshops; a tour of an olive oil factory, and a visit to a fishing village where they will prepare the catch of the day.
A huge fan of Italian cooking, Kaether, from Rhinelander, submitted multiple recipes and photos of each of her creations to the contest, which centered around the use of Johnsonville Italian sausage in each dish. Judges then reviewed the entries and whittled the submissions down to five finalists.
Remarkably, she had two of her dishes make the final five. It was the first time in the history of the contest that one individual had two entries make it to the finals, according to the judges.
“Even if I hadn’t won-and I really didn’t think I was going to-I would have been thrilled just to have two entries in the finals,” she said.
But win she did.
“Stephanie’s recipe for ‘A Match Made in Manicotti Heaven’ is a great example of her impressive culinary skills – it not only tastes great and features a nice balance of flavors, it is also visually appealing,” said Bob Fitzgerald, Johnsonville Sausage brand manager.
In addition to the trip and $10,000, she also received a sizable gift basket from Johnsonville.
“I don’t think I’m ever going to need to buy Parmesan cheese again,” she said.