Recipe contest entries have to be original, which means you can't just copy them from cookbooks. However, you can start with a beloved recipe and tinker with it until you have created something new. Here are some tips on how to find inspiration to create your recipe contest entries.
Before you start, you might also want to read about recipe contests and copyright.
1. Get Recipe Inspiration from Other CuisinesOne fun way to come up with an original recipe contest entry is to take a favorite recipe and make it over in a style from a different cuisine. For example, imagine you're starting with a recipe for pork chops or pot roast. How could you give that recipe a Chinese flair? What would happen if you added Italian spices? Can you imagine a Thai twist to your recipe?
If you need inspiration, About.com's Food Section offers recipes from a number of different cuisines. Some interesting sites to visit include:
2. Combine Unusual Flavors for Unique Recipe Contest EntriesMy brother-in-law makes a fantastic chicken noodle soup. What makes it different? He uses vanilla flavoring in it. Vanilla is not something I ever would have considered using in chicken soup, but boy is it scrumptious! If you're looking for a way to make a recipe pop, try experimenting with some unusual flavors. The results may be terrible, but then again, they may be just what you need for a unique contest entry.
3. Give Your Recipe a Healthy Makeover for a Unique Contest EntryA lot of companies are focusing on healthy eating these days, so if you are looking for an unusual twist that might catch a judge's eye, take a typical recipe and make it low-fat, dairy free, low-carb, or otherwise appealing to a specialty diet.
You can find some tips in these articles from About.com's Food Guides:
4. Combine Recipes to Create a Sensational New Contest EntryThink of your favorite aspects of various dishes -- the perfect crunch of a toffee topping on one cake, the fluffy frosting on another, the rich chocolate flavor of a third... Now imagine, what would happen if you combined those favorite parts into one recipe? Would it be something new that would capture the attention of a recipe contest judge? Why not try it and find out?
5. Get Saucy with the Recipe Contest JudgesAnother way to make an original recipe contest entry is to take a basic standard dish and spice it up with an unusual sauce. Pomegranate sauce with chicken, hollandaise over warm tomatoes and mozzarella, there are all kinds of interesting ideas that you can create by being creative with sauces.
For some inspiration, check out Danilo Alfaro's Sauces Section on About.com's Culinary Arts site.
6. ConclusionYou don't have to be a gourmet chef to win recipe contests. You only need to have the courage to try something new and different, and to submit your recipes into the contests. For some more tips, see my Tips for Creating Recipe-Winning Contests.
If you'd like some tips on how to improve your cooking skills in general, the Culinary Arts site is a great place to start. Some of my favorite articles there include: