– The Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Competition returns on Wednesday.

U.S. Sen. Tina Smith will host the "hot dish off," taking over an annual tradition started by former Sen. Al Franken in 2011 to foster goodwill among the delegation's Democrats and Republicans. That year, Sen. Amy Klobuchar triumphed with her offering of the Taconite Tater Tot Hotdish during a blind taste test, and lawmakers have maintained their creativity in the years since.

In 2017, the winning entry was U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson's Right to Bear Arms Hot Dish — an offering that drew controversy after revelations that the bear in the casserole had been shot in Wisconsin.

Sam Brodey of MinnPost will also host the eighth annual competition. The hotdish will be judged by Phill Drobnick, the gold-medal-winning coach of the U.S. men's Olympic curling team; Joe Gill, the farm director of KASM Radio in Albany, Minn.; Noobtsaa Philip Vang, a University of Minnesota graduate and founder of Foodhini, an online restaurant serving meals made by immigrant and refugee chefs in the Washington, D.C., area; and Kate Schaefers, volunteer state president of AARP Minnesota.

"I'm continuing Senator Franken's tradition because I think my colleagues in the Minnesota delegation and I could all use some time to put politics to the side in Washington — and enjoy some great hotdish," said Smith in a statement. "I'm hoping for some inventive dishes this year, and as always I'm looking forward to doing what I love most — bringing Minnesotans together."

MAYA RAO