World Dessert Championship // Las Vegas 2013

I am back from competing at the World Food Championships in Las Vegas. Within minutes of hearing the results of the first round, I made this video from my hotel room:

Now you know the results of my quest for culinary glory and now I can tell you about my trip!

First, I had over 60 lbs of stuff to squeeze into my checked luggage. I had to remove the bags of flour and Dixie Crystals sugar to place in my carry-on. Below is a TSA agent in Charlotte scanning my bag to make sure it's not coke. Or other schedule II drugs.

My future is in that plastic bag.
This is attempt # 34 of me trying to take a selfie at the airport with my travel buddy and sous chef, Jiliana Dulaney of Haute Chocolate. I'm so glad we're friends. And that she let me snap dozens of crappy pics LOL

Airport Realness
During a quick layover in Cincinnati, I lucked out and Gold Star Chili just happened to be located mere feet away from our gate. A quick 4-way later and we were on our way!

True to form, I carried my grandma's cast-iron skillet on the plane with me. For all of those wondering: It weighs 6 lbs.

Viva Las Vegas!

Our home away from home for 5 days. The Plaza is the site of many things. I learned about them all on Wikipedia. Thank you, Wikipedia.

After checking in and taking promo photos, it was time for the World Food Championships Kick-Off Party at the Golden Nugget.

Food, drink, pyrotechnics, food, more drink, celebrity judges, hosts, Las Vegas' mayor, showgirls and more food and drink were there for us to have.

Speaking of celebrities, I met Dave Bouska of Butcher BBQ, who beat my hometown guys, Bib's Downtown during BBQ Pitmasters in early 2013.

 He was happy to tell me that he still thinks Bib's should have won and their BBQ is some of the best he's ever had. In his defense, he won the World BBQ Championship in Las Vegas in 2012. The man knows a little something about smoking meat.

Dirty Tequila. That's the product's name. It was pineapple and cinnamon flavored. I tweeted about it, but I think I had too many samples. After a quick search, I found that the Twitter handle I carefully typed in my phone does not exist. Oh, well. 

More liquor!
Liquor?! I didn't touch her!
I had a margarita made with the vodka below. It's made with Fair Trade quinoa. I didn't know quinoa needed to be classified as Fair Trade. I suppose South American farmers are being exploited for their superfood-protein packing exploits. In all "fairness", this vodka was incredibly smooth, crisp and it's gluten-free!

After a good night's rest and a day of sight-seeing, it was time to get to Kitchen Arena and compete!

I met Top Chef season 7's Fan Favorite (and my favorite), Tiffany Derry.

Select tweets during the competition:

THIS. Is the only pic I managed to snap of my "signature dish" during the first round. The presentation could have been cleaner, tighter and more elaborate, but at least I turned something in. We did, however make a couple of mistakes: we forgot the 1/2 cup of sugar in the cream cheese mixture AND I only plated 5 dishes instead of the mandatory 6. My scores suffered. I will say this: I DID NOT COME IN LAST PLACE.

Post-competition glow. And the promise of a $14 prime rib dinner LOL

Stay tuned tomorrow to read about the FUN, INDULGENT part of my trip to Vegas!

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

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