Shirley DeSantis (1999)

Shirley DeSantis may have picked up the $5,000 first prize in the 1989 National Beef Cook-off’s Microwave category (left), but it was the Pillsbury Bake-off that made her get the rest of the family into recipe contests. She was a finalist twice, right about the time Pillsbury introduced the “three times and your out” rule. So Shirley got the kids involved. . . and it paid off. Husband Alex and daughter Miranda were the first father/daughter finalists, then son Tony was a finalist in the following contest. Miranda did it by herself in the next bake-off, and Alex and Tony were the first father/son finalists in the following contest. It should come as no surprise, then, that Alex Jr. was a finalist in another bake-off. Shirley went back for her final “three times your out” in 2004. Nor should it come as a surprise that Tony was also a finalist at the National Beef Cook-off when Shirley won in 1989.


COOK OFFS: Pillsbury Bake-off Finalist – Shirley: 2004 trip to cook off – Hollywood 1978 trip to cook off – New Orleans 1968 trip to cook off – Atlanta Pillsbury Bake-off Finalist – Family: 1994 Alex Jr. – San Diego 1990 Alex and Tony (1st father/son) – Phoenix 1988 Miranda – San Diego ($4,000) 1986 Tony – Orlando 1984 Alex and Miranda (1st father/daughter) – San Diego

National Beef Cook Off Finalist – Shirley: 1990 trip to cook off – Portland – (1st – Microwave category) 1988 trip to cook off – Jackson, MS 1976 trip to cook off – Salt Lake City (1st – they now call it GP) National Beef Cook Off Finalist -Family: 1992: Jane – Colorado 1991: Alex, Jr. – Tacoma 1990: Tony – Porland

National Oyster Cook Off Finalist – Shirley – Competed in 12 of their cook offs: 2005 2nd; 2004 1st; 2003 3rd; 2002 1st; 1997 3rd; 1993 2nd; 1992 2nd; 1988 1st and Grand prize; 1984 2nd; 1982 3rd; 1981 2nd; 1980 2nd. National Oyster Cook Off Finalist – Alex: 2006 2nd; 2004 3rd; 2002 3rd; 2001 2nd; 2000 3rd; 1998 1st; 1995 1st and Grand prize; 1992 2nd

Cook Off Finalist – Shirley: 2005 Rival CrockTober – trip for 2 to cook off – NYC 2005 IGA Hometown Holidays – trip for 2 to cook off – Chicago 1983 National Catfish Cook-off 1979 National Pineapple Cook-off

Cook Off Finalist: Alex: 2002 1st Southern Living Cook Off – Florida – trip for 2 plus $2,000 1996 Knob Creek Manhattan drink contest – trip for 2 to NYC 1990 1st Sutter Home ‘Build a Better Burger” cook off. Trip to CA wine country to compete.

RECIPE CONTESTS: Shirley 1991: Widmer lake Niagara Wines: GP – trip for 2 to New Orleans (we took a cash alternative prize) 1988: Hidden Valley Ranch: 1st – expense paid 5 day trip to great hotel in LaJolla including $$$ for dining 1987: Idaho Potato/Family Circle Magazine: GP – expense paid trip for 5 (1 week) to Keystone Resort, Keystone, CO – great condo and $$$ for food 1986: Uncle Ben’s Country Inn Rice: GP – expense paid trip week for 2 to Madrona Manor in CA wine country – food at inn was fantastic. 17th and 11th : Gold Kist Chicken “Winning Tastes” – 2nd prizes. (Alex won a 4th at 13th)

There are a LOT of prizes in smaller cook offs and recipe contests over the years. The $$$ are always wonderful … $5,000 is probably the largest amount I’ve received at one time. Many wins in Better Homes and Gardens monthly plus a nice win in one of the ‘special’ contests. Winning recipes also in McCalls, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle. Also Prizes in many of the Quaker Oats contests; Kretschmer Wheat Germ; Campbells; Bertolli, Golden Blossom Honey; Kraft; Progresso; Hidden Valley; Frenchs; Swift-Eckrich; Heinz; triscuit; College Inn; Old El Paso; Bailey’s Irish Cream; Leroux; Treasure Cave Blue Cheese; Sargento; Nestles; Kikkoman; Arnold; Krups; River Rice; Hellmanns; Karo; Stokley-Van Camp; Brooks Chili Beans; Ehlers; LaChoy; Lawrys; Chex; Knox; Swansons; Hunts; Silver Floss; Parkay; Uncle Bens and more in local and regional contests.

BEST PRIZES: A week for two at a country inn in California wine country; a week for two in La Jolla, Calif.; a week for 5 to Keystone Ski Resort in Colorado.

ADVICE: “Read the rules. . . then read them again. No matter how great your entry is, if you don’t follow every rule, your entry will most likely end up in File 13.”


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