Bob and Edwina Gadsby (2009)

Bob and Edwina Gadsby both grew up in southern California and were influenced in many ways by that state. When they met, Edwina was an Accountant with the San Diego City Treasurer’s office and Bob was a U.S. Customs Officer at the world’s busiest land border port of entry. Immediately after getting married, they left San Diego and settled in the rural Inland Northwest, eventually ending up in Montana. Bob works as a Branch Chief with Customs and Border Protection (part of the Department of Homeland Security), and Edwina is currently a homemaker and does volunteer work. They share their home with Beau, a chocolate Labrador Retriever and will celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary this year.

How Did You First Get Into Contesting? Edwina stumbled into contesting one morning in 1994 while reading Country Living magazine. For some reason an announcement for a recipe contest caught her eye. While she has always loved to cook, she had never considered entering “cooking contests”. She regarded them with the same skepticism as sweepstakes (does anyone ever really win these?). This one beckoned to her, as the grand prize was an all expense paid trip to a well-known bed and breakfast in Vermont. Visiting Vermont in the fall had always been a dream of the Gadsby’s. The sponsor, Land O’Lakes, was looking for an original breakfast recipe. To Edwina’s surprise, her Apple Cinnamon French Toast won the grand prize. That was it, she was hooked!

A few months later, Bob (a good cook in his own right) tried his hand at contesting. Jim Beam Brands sponsored a contest called “Bourboncuing with Booker”; Booker Noe is the grandson of Jim Beam. Bob’s unusual Peach of a Bourbon Basting Sauce won them a trip to Kentucky where Bob barbecued in Booker’s back yard, and took first place in the sauce category. Now they were both hooked!

Most Satisfying Win: The Gadsby’s are constantly amazed at the unique adventures contesting has presented them. They have (twice) barbecued with Jim Beam’s grandson in Bardstown, Kentucky (where they learned the true meaning of southern hospitality). They have each been a finalist at one of Southern Living magazines’ fabulous destination cook-offs, where Bob shared the stage with Al Roker and Edwina with Tyler Florence. They have worked side by side with the staff of Cooking Light magazine in their test kitchen. They were wined and dined at the Rainbow Room in NYC by Paul Newman (screen legend and great humanitarian), talk about a fantasy coming true! Bob was a judge at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg, Tennessee. They enjoyed a fabulous Cape Cod getaway in picturesque Sandwich, Massachusetts courtesy of the Louis Rich “Make Your Own Sandwich” contest. Edwina prepared her “prize winning” dessert on national television on the now defunct ABC “Mike & Maty Show” (a chauffeur and limousine met them at the airport and whisked them off to their suite at a luxurious hotel in Beverly Hills). John Harrison (Mr. Ice Cream) gave them an exclusive tour of the Dreyer’s ice cream plant in Houston, Texas and then Edwina prepared her “Cinn-ful Pecan Caramel Ice Cream” in their lab. They have enjoyed Fetzer and Sutter Home Wineries in northern California and have had their recipes published in almost every major lifestyle magazine and posted on web sites (like Rachel Ray).

Bob and Edwina have won cash, trips, and enough appliances to outfit family and friends for years to come. The most unexpected “reward” has been all the wonderful people they have had the opportunity to meet. Many of their cook-off “competitors” are now life-long friends. “People seem surprised by the sharing aspect of this hobby. Many tend to think cook-offs are cut throat competitions, and are quite surprised to learn most of us regard them more like family reunions.” said Bob. “We personally view cook-offs as opportunities to visit with old friends and make new ones. We contesters love to share information with one another, and try to encourage and inspire one another. We realize we can’t win every contest and are sincerely thrilled when a friend takes the grand prize.” he said.

Bob always says his most satisfying win was the Paul Newman contest where he won $10,000 for the charity of his choice. He split it between a small volunteer fire department and a rural library.

After many wins (and even more losses) the Gadsby’s are still as enthusiastic about this hobby as they were in the beginning. Each new contest presents a new challenge. “It is the creative aspect of contesting that excites us and knowing that we are only limited by our imaginations. We have been exceedingly lucky, but most of all, we’ve had tremendous fun!” said Edwina.

Notable Wins

Edwina’s Wins:


Grand Prize: Country Living/Land O’Lakes Butter – Trip for 2 to B&B in Vermont

2nd Prize: Quaker Oats – $1,000

1st Prize: Orville Redenbacher’s Popcorn Contest – $1,500

Runner Up: Newman’s Own – $1,000 donated to charity

1st Prize: Better Homes & Gardens – Monthly

Grand Prize: ABC’s Mike & Maty Show -Trip for 2 to Los Angeles to appear on show


1st Prize: Green Giant Rush Hour Recipes – $1,000

1st Prize: M&M’s Brighter Baking – video camera

4th Place: National Chicken Cook-Off – Finalist for Montana + $2,000

Grand Prize: Marzetti’s Caramel Apple Dip – $500 + silver engraved serving tray

Grand Prize: Sonoma Dried Tomatoes/McCall’s – $5,000

1st Prize: Better Homes & Gardens – Monthly

Finalist: Fetzer Winery’s Great Salad Toss – Trip for 2 to Sonoma for cook-off

Grand Prize: Kellogg’s Low Fat Granola – $5,000

2nd Prize: Woman’s Day/Franco American – $2,000

1st Prize: Quaker Oats – $2,000


Finalist: Pillsbury Bake-Off – Trip to Dallas, Texas to compete

1st Prize: National Pork Producers Council – $750

1st Prize: Kretschmer Wheat Germ – $1,000

Grand Prize: National Turkey Federation – $2,000

Grand Prize: Fiber One Cereal – $1,500

Grand Prize: Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry – $500

1st Prize: Mushroom Council – $2,000

2nd Prize: Sutter “Build A Better Burger” Contest – $3,000

1st Prize: Luv Salmon – $500

1st Prize: Better Homes & Gardens – Monthly – $400


Finalist: Cooking Light 10th Anniversary Cook-Off – Trip to Birmingham, AL

1st Prize: Kretschmer Wheat Germ – $1,000

1st Prize: PACE – $1,000

(2) 1st Prizes: Fiber One Cereal – (Breads): $1,000 + (Main Dish): $1,000

Runner Up: Southern Living Holiday – $250 (recipe in Dec 1997 issue)

Grand Prize: Louis Rich Sandwich Contest – $15,000 + Trip for 2 to Sandwich, MA\

Grand Prize: Butterball Turkey – $500

Grand Finalist: Mama Mary’s – Trip for 2 to Disney World for cook-off

Grand Prize: Woman’s Day/Canned Food Council – $4,000

Grand Prize: Woman’s Day/Velveeta – $5,000


Category Wnner: Pillsbury Bake-Off – $10,000 + AccuRange Oven

Grand Prize: Bolla Wine – Salad Category – $2,000 + trip to Las Vegas

1st Prize: Sargento Cheese – $2,500

3rd Place: Goldkist Chicken – appliances, cookware and $500

1st Prize: Dunnewood Wine – Trip for 2 to NYC + $500


Finalist: National Chicken Cook-off – Trip to Dallas, TX to compete

1st Prize: CHEX/General Mills – $2,000

2nd Prize: Sue Bee Honey – $1,000

Grand Prize: GoldKist Chicken – LaVarenne at the Greenbriar, $1,000 + appliances

Grand Prize: Gameday Cheese – Trip for 2 to Maui Hula Bowl + $500

Honorable Mention: BH&G/Recipe of the Century – recipe featured in Feb. 2000 issue

1st Prize: Honey Maid Grahams S’mores Contest – $500 Eddie Bauer gift certificate

Grand Prize: Weber Gourmet Grilling Contest – Trip to Hong Kong and Bangkok


2nd Prize: National Fisheries Institute – $1,000

1st Prize: Heavenly Ham – $300 Pampered Chef gift cert.+ $100 heavenly ham

Finalist: USA Rice Federation – $1,000

Grand Prize: Woman’s Day/Hansen’s soda – Trip to Napa Valley + $2,500


3rd Prize: Farmer John “Go Hog Wild” – $500

Runner Up: Southern Living/Holiday – $500

1st Prize: Morningstar – $500

1st Prize: Dreyer’s Ice Cream – Trip for 2 to Houston to visit ice cream “lab” + year’s supply of ice cream + “Special Flavor Recognition” $1,500 award

3rd Prize: T-Fal – $500 worth of T-Fal merchandise


Grand Prize: Lawry’s “Soul Food” Showtime – $3,000 + trip for 2 to Los Angeles

1st Prize: Ortega – $750 worth of Fiesta ware

Grand Prize: Post Selects Cereal – $1,000

Grand Prize: Baker’s Chocolate – $500 + case of chocolate


1st Prize: Equal Sweetener – $3,000

Grand Prize: Louisiana Hot Sauce – $5,000

Finalist: IGA – Trip for 2 to Chicago to compete

1st Prize: PACE – $500

Finalist: McCormick Blend to Win – $500 + spice rack

Grand Prize: Hershey’s Holiday Creations Contest – $5,000 – Craft Division

Finalist: National Beef – Trip to Ft. Worth, TX to compete

Grand Prize: Bays English Muffins – $500 Williams-Sonoma gift certificate


2nd Prize: Blue Bonnet Chocolate Chip Cookies – $500

Grand Prize: Stonyfield Farms Yogurt/Cooking Light – Trip for 2 to San Francisco + week course at Tante Marie’s cooking school

1st Prize: Philadelphia Cream Cheese /Kraft – $2,500

1st Prize: Jell-O/Cool Whip Family Celebrations – $1,000

1st Prize: Quaker Oats Ultimate Oatmeal Cookie – $1,000

2nd Prize: Pork No-Recipe Contest – $600 + merchandise

Finalist: Rice to the Rescue – $1,000


Grand Prize: Sunkist Citrus Challenge – $2,000 + year’s supply Sunkist fruits

Finalist: National Beef Cook-off – Trip to Rapid City, SD to compete

Finalist: Sunset Magazine “Thanksgiving in the West”


Finalist: Rice to the Rescue – $1,000 + rice cooker

Category Winner: Southern Living Cook-off – $10,000 + trip for 2 to Charleston

Rachael Ray Burger Bash – Burger featured on RR’s website


Finalist: National Chicken Cook-off – Trip to Birmingham, AL to compete


Grand Prize: Mezzetta Makes the Sandwich – $25,000 + trip for 2 to Napa Valley

Grand Prize: Rias Baixas – $1,000 Williams-Sonoma gift certificate, case of wine, cookbooks, etc.

3rd Prize: Columbia Crest Flayvors of WA – picnic basket, cookbooks, etc.

National Chicken State Winner – $100

Bob’s Wins:

1st Prize: Jim Beam “Bourbonquing with Booker” – $500 + trip for 2 to Bardstown, Kentucky

1st Prize: Newman’s Own – Trip to New York City, lunch with Paul Newman + $10,000 to charity

Grand Prize: Sonoma Dried Tomatoes/McCall’s – $5,000

Finalist: 1998 Pillsbury Bake-off – trip to Orlando, FL to compete

1st Prize: Jim Beam 2nd “Bourbonquing with Booker” – $750 + trip for 2 to Bardstown, Kentucky

1st Prize: National Pork Producers Council – $1,500

3rd Prize: National Pork Producers Council – $500

Daily Winner: Sutter Home “Build a Better Burger” – $100

1st Prize: Polly-O Cheese – $500

Grand Prize: Jack Daniel’s – Trip for 2 to Lynchburg, Tennessee + Judge at Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational BBQ + Weber grill

1st Prize: 2001 National Chicken Cook-off in Sacramento – $25,000 + GE Refrigerator

Finalist: Farmer John “Go Hog Wild” – Trip to Santa Monica, CA to compete + Award of Excellence $250

Finalist: 2001 National Beef Cook-off – Trip to Tucson, Arizona to compete

Finalist: McCormick’s Blend to Win – $500 plus customized spice rack

Finalist: 2002 Southern Living Cook-off – Trip for 2 to Orlando, Florida to compete + $1,000.

Finalist: 2005 Cooking Light Readers Recipe Contest – Trip to Birmingham, Alabama to compete (during Hurricane Katrina!)

1st Prize: Emeril’s Kick it up a Notch – 10 piece set of Emerilware

Runner Up: Coast to Coast California Raisin – $250 Williams-Sonoma gift certificate

Finalist: USA RICE “Rev Up Your Rice” – $1,000 plus rice cooker

Grand Prize: Old Dutch Royal Recipe Contest – Trip for 2 to Minneapolis, Minnesota

1st Prize: Pork Grilling Grates – Weber grill

Finalist: 2008 Pillsbury Bake-off – Trip to Dallas, Texas to compete

Finalist: Smithfield/Paula Deen

Advice to Other Contesters: We’re often asked what is the secret to winning. The simple answer is that there is none. Go with your instinct and don’t spend too much time over-thinking a recipe or trying to develop the perfect strategy. Above all, have fun. If you go to every cook-off expecting to win you’ll come away disappointed; if you go because you enjoy cooking and like to meet and share the experience with others of the same heart, you will always come away a winner.

One Response to “Bob and Edwina Gadsby (2009)”

  1. hafida December 12, 2016 at 7:13 pm #

    So inspiring it so nice when you find someone sharing with you the passion for for cooking

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