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Great State: Oklahoma’s Best ‘At Home’ Chefs Bring Their Best to the State Fair

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- State Fair visitors so often see the finished products entered to win ribbons in canning, or baking.

The cooks and artists don't stand by their creations so you can't see them.

But late Thursday morning, on the fair's first day, chefs and dishes were together lined up with their creations freshly cooked.

Alisha Gill brought a banana split shortcake all the way from Weatherford, Oklahoma.

"I entered in the Bisquick competition," she said, "and I'm actually really nervous."

Bisquick, the old pantry standby, rose at the center of this competition.

Cooks had to prepare something using the mix, and bring it to contest coordinator Kathy Dobry before 10:30am.

"Kathy told us, "Items are all judged on creativity, ease of preparation, and overall presentation."

Jennifer Koons brought her family and a family favorite she calls milk cake.

"It's like a tres leche cake," she said. "Kind of the American version of the Mexican recipe."

Some cooks cut the deadline pretty close.

"I hit a train," she panted. "But I didn't actually 'hit' a train, praise the Lord."

We witnessed one of them who hadn't practiced much of an excuse in case she was late.

Other home chefs had apparently met before.

All of them enjoy baking.

They like someone other than their own families to taste, and they like to talk shop while they wait for the results.

"I do all these competitions," said competitor Jean Kriske sitting with a fellow Bisquick competitor. "I'm doing one tomorrow, Saturday, and next weekend."

"I'll see you again then," chuckles her seat mate.

Judges always look like they're struggling whether they are or not.

They look so serious while they taste.

They take serious looking notes.

In the end, they awarded Jean Kriske's Peach Melba a third place ribbon.

A plate of M and M cookies took second place.

The blue ribbon for the best Bisquick dish went to Carolyn Doyle.

No one but the judges got much more than a good whiff of these recipes.

They went home to their families after the contest.

But never fear.

The un-official competition to fill empty stomachs at the fair still has hundreds of entries.