With queso oozing in popularity on menus nationwide, this fall Land O’Lakes Foodservice collaborated with the global culinary community, Chef’s Roll, for a craveable contest, asking chefs, “How Do You Queso?”
The second annual competition called on chefs to share their own creative take on a recipe incorporating Land O Lakes® Extra Melt® White Cheese Sauce. To qualify, participating chefs could enter a new recipe or spotlight a cheesy dish they were already menu-ing. Each participant received a sample box of the Land O Lakes® sauce.
Chefs submitted 133 recipes ranging from Queso Fondue to Fried Tamale Tots With Street Corn Queso to Chicken Shrimp and Broccoli Alfredo Soup, showcasing how Land O Lakes® Extra Melt® White Sauce can support or enhance a wide array of dishes.
“We see queso trending nationwide on menus because it sparks such imagination for chefs, whether it’s a twist on a traditional appetizer dip or the central ingredient for a signature dish,” said Billy Kalil, commercial foodservice chef, Land O’Lakes, Inc. “We create our performance cheese sauces with this in mind. They are a versatile and dependable blank canvas that allows chefs to confidently unleash and menu their best ideas. We were so happy to see this come alive with the incredible How Do You Queso? entrants.”
In November, judges selected the top three How Do You Queso? Chef Competition winners, including:
Top Entrant: Cameron Bouldin, owner of Nicholas Wayne Company private catering in Sonoma, Calif., with his Smoked BBQ Mojo Pork Shoulder Stack featuring Land O Lakes® Extra Melt® Cheese Sauce, fresh cilantro and honey pickled jalapeños.
As grand prize winner, Chef Cameron received $1,000, a Chef’s Roll executive chef coat and a custom Meglio® chef’s knife.
“I’ve been experimenting with the foundational pork shoulder stack for a while, and when I learned about the competition, it was a lightbulb moment to bring queso to its forefront,” said Chef Cameron. “I’ve worked with Land O Lakes® sauces in the past and love their versatility. You can make the sauce thick, thin or any way you prefer with confidence. For this dish, it gave me a simple but original idea: After I soaked the pork for 24 hours, I fused some of the juice back into the Extra Melt® Cheese Sauce. It came out perfect.”
Runner Up: Chef Brad Prose, recipe developer, cookbook author and owner of Chiles and Smoke, Phoenix, Ariz., produced a Smoked Beef Birria, featuring Land O Lakes® Extra Melt® Cheese Sauce with homemade barbacoa rub, fried tater tots, xnipec and smoked pickled jalapeños.
“I’ve loved this dish for a while, and when I discovered the competition, I knew I had to enter,” said Chef Brad. “Birria is complicated, tater tots are simple and the queso merges them together with true Southwestern flavor. The Land O Lakes® Extra Melt® Cheese Sauce just made it so easy to combine without the sauce breaking.”
Runner Up: Chef Marc Strasen, private chef and co-owner of craft services and catering company A. Crafty Production in Las Vegas, Nev., created Asparagus and Morel Mushroom Lace Crepe with Land O Lakes® Extra Melt® Cheese Sauce, a roasted garlic and shallot puree with white wine, finished with a chive and arugula avocado oil.
“While I love cooking with meat, I’ve been experimenting with plant-forward dishes lately, and love how quality cheese can boost their flavor,” said Chef Marc. “While testing this dish, I considered Extra Melt® Cheese Sauce the ‘Mother Sauce of Cheese,’ a velvety smooth and easy sauce that I could add so many ingredients to create a truly unique dish for my clients.”
Both runners-up received $500 along with personalized Chef’s Roll chef’s jackets.
Want inspiration for your own queso inspiration? Search #HowDoYouQueso on Instagram to see how winners and other chefs incorporated Land O Lakes® Extra Melt® Cheese Sauce for their dishes.
About Land O’Lakes, Inc.
Land O’Lakes, Inc., one of America’s premier agribusiness and food companies, is a member-owned cooperative with industry-leading operations that span the spectrum from agricultural production to consumer foods. With 2021 annual sales of $16 billion, Land O’Lakes is one of the nation’s largest cooperatives, ranking 232 on the Fortune 500. Building on a legacy of more than 100 years of operation, Land O’Lakes today operates some of the most respected brands in agribusiness and food production including Land O’Lakes Dairy Foods, Purina Animal Nutrition, WinField United and Truterra. The company does business in all 50 states and more than 60 countries. Land O’Lakes, Inc. corporate headquarters are located in Arden Hills, Minnesota.