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Valerie Phillips: LDS chef Carmell Childs won't compete for $50K on Sunday

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 27 2012 4:15 p.m. MST

After making it all the way to the finals of the World Food Championships held Nov. 1-4 in Las Vegas, Carmell Childs of Ferron, Emery County, gave up a chance at the $50,000 grand champion title. Shown here, she won the Spreading Smucker's Traditions Recipe and Essay Contest with her recipe for Chicken Bacon Burgers with Cherry-Chive Mayo.

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After making it all the way to the finals of the World Food Championships held Nov. 1-4 in Las Vegas, Carmell Childs of Ferron, Emery County, gave up a chance at the $50,000 grand champion title.

The final contest was on a Sunday. "And because I teach my children that the Sabbath is a sacred day, I opted out of the Sunday competition for the $50,000," said Childs, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This is the same World Food Championships where Salt Lake City's Lucky 13 Bar and Grill won the World Burger Championship.

After I wrote about Lucky 13's win in a previous column, I received an email from one of Childs' friends letting me know that she was also a winner, but chose to drop out of the finals rather than compete on Sunday.

A first-time event at Caesar's Palace, the World Food Championships consisted of seven different contests — burger, barbecue, chili, sandwich, chef, side-dish and recipe. The winner of each contest received $10,000.

In the "Final Table" round, all the champions from the seven different contests then competed for the grand champion prize of $50,000. All except Childs, that is.

Childs is a home cook who has already won a few recipe contests. Her Cherry Chicken Bacon Burger won a $20,000 family reunion in Smucker's Spreading Family Traditions Recipe and Essay Contest. She also won Del Monte's Crown the Cook recipe contest with her Mandarin Tin-Can Tower Cake last summer.

Her previous wins qualified her to compete in three different categories of the World Food Championships, but Childs could pick only one.

"Because Del Monte wanted to sponsor me because I'm their Crown the Cook Champion, I chose to represent them in the recipe contest category," she said.

"Initially I hadn't realized that all category champions would then be invited to compete at the final table on Sunday, but I never in my wildest dreams thought I would make it that far," Childs said. "My goal was to make the top 10 and come home with at least $1,000. It was a battle of the average Joes versus the pros. There were so many professional chefs and restaurant owners in my category that I thought it would be a great achievement to make it even that far!"

She won Round One with White Chocolate Apricot Sunrise pastries, featuring Del Monte apricots. (The WFC is compiling a cookbook of all the winning recipes, so she is unable to share it in my column.)

The top 10 finalists battled it out for title of Recipe Champion, she had to cook something for a "tapas" theme. She made Sweet Cherry Baby Bellas — stuffed baby bell peppers with a mixture of bacon, onions, cream cheese, cherries and peppers.

To her surprise, she won the World Recipe Champion title and $10,000. This gave her a berth in Sunday's "Final Table."

But Child had already decided that, "if by some crazy chance I found myself in the position to compete for the $50,000 on Sunday, I would have to turn it down," she said. "I've always been taught by my parents to keep the Sabbath day holy, and that by doing so I will be blessed. I see my big win as the blessing for making this decision previously."

When she informed the World Food Championships staff, "The WFC asked me to sleep on my decision before passing up such an amazing opportunity. They were very respectful of my decision, and they sent a Canadian BBQ team in my place to compete, because they had the second highest score in the recipe category.

"On Sunday morning, we packed up our bags and drove home to Ferron," Childs said. "I'll admit it wasn't easy at all, but I believe that with great sacrifice comes great blessings."

The $50,000 grand championship was won by Robert Butler, chef at The Paris Las Vegas, and his sous chef, Lowell McCain, who had won the Best Sandwich category.

But Childs left with her World Recipe Champion trophy, a $10,000 check and a lot of good memories.

Valerie Phillips is the former Deseret News food editor and the author of "Soup's On!" published by Covenant Communications. She blogs at www.chewandchat.blogspot.com. Email: vphillips@desnews.com