"First annual" is a term that promises commitment. Is jerky worth it? We'll get a clue when Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis hosts "the first annual national jerky competition" on April 5. The nationwide contest is for cooking professionals and amateurs alike, 18 years and older. Grand prize is $300 and the adoration of those gathered for the restaurant's broadcast of the NCAA Final Four championship game that night. Any type of homemade jerky is welcome, but recipes must be original and previously unpublished. You'd best get cracking: The entry form plus 150 jerky samples (about 2 inches long each) must be received by Hell's Kitchen by midnight March 25. Complete rules, entry forms and an informative discussion of food safety are at wHellsKitchenInc.com; click on "Special Events."How to do local
Here's another first: The Heartland Food Network is sponsoring a half-day workshop to provide chefs and food-service professionals with the info needed to begin using locally grown food in their kitchens. Speakers include chefs from Lucia's, the Craftsman, Corner Table, the Birchwood Cafe and Sen Yai Sen Lek Thai, all of whom have years of firsthand experience finding and using local ingredients. Several food producers will speak, along with specialists from the state Department of Agriculture. The workshop, at the Craftsman, costs $20 and includes a local-food lunch. To register, visit cheftochef.eventbrite.com.Contest alert
The Idaho Potato Commission is sponsoring a "Watching Waistlines & Wallets" recipe contest with a grand prize of $5,000. Idaho potatoes must be the main ingredient in a recipe that calls for no more than 10 ingredients. As the name says, economical and healthful are key concepts. To enter, visit idahopotato.com. Deadline is March 31.Baking with technology
We hadn't known of the litl web book, an Internet computer for the home introduced last year by a Boston company, but it's already launched a recipe channel in partnership with BakeSpace (bakespace.com).
The litl web book has a 12-inch screen and is hinged to stand upright like an easel when not used as a laptop, so it can sit on a kitchen counter, displaying any of the more than 50,000 recipes on the baking site. The recipes come at no cost to litl Web book users; the litl itself costs about $700. To learn more, visit litl.com.
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