CRESTVIEW — An award-winning home chef has added a feather to her toque.
Sherri Williams, who won Crock-Pot's “Crockin’ in the USA” contest in December, started last weekend on a high note with a phone call from NBC.
“Someone from the 'Today' show called,”she said. “I had entered the ‘Chicken Wing Cook-Off.’ She gave me a call and told me I was one of the three winners. I’ll be going up there on Jan. 31 for a live airing on Feb. 1.”
The contest — which the daily morning chat show ran Jan. 8-16 — called on cooks to submit their favorite chicken wings recipes. Williams was among three winners selected for the trip to New York to share her recipe with a live national audience.
She won’t be entirely among strangers.
“The good thing about it is one of my foodie friends is one of the other winners,” she said.
After flying into New York, Williams will attend a rehearsal the afternoon of Jan. 31. The live show will be the next morning. Because she won't do the actual cooking, she had to ensure the recipe was precise.
Reason enough to cook up another batch of wings— “just to be sure,” she said.
“Their food stylists are going to do the actual preparing of the wings,” Williams said. “The recipe has to be exact when someone else is making them. If I was doing it, I could tweak them a little.”
The key ingredient to Williams’ Asian scorpion pepper jelly wings is Uncle Gary’s Gourmet Scorpion Pepper Jelly, bottled commercially by Williams’ friend Gary Langer from his father’s recipe. It gives the wings a spicy kick, Williams said, adding she wondered whether "Today" hosts’ palates would be up to the challenge.
“I hope they realize they’re going to be spicy,” she said. “They’re pretty darn good. You can enjoy the flavor of the wing and then you get the heat in the back of your palate. ”
Williams said her husband, Roy, isn’t fond of spicy food but agreed the wings were outstanding.
Then the heat caught up with him.
“‘Oh baby, these are hot!’” she said he exclaimed. “They’re good anytime, though, even if you’re just having a little function.
“Even if you don’t want to use scorpion pepper jelly, you can use a mild pepper jelly. The flavor is in the Asian spices. You can use any jam or jelly.”
At a recent get-together, Williams served three kinds of wings, including the Asian scorpion variety. Another style was finished with a blueberry glaze.
“It’s a merlot with blueberry jam with blueberries,” she said. “You talk about good! The glaze was outstanding! I marinated them overnight in blueberry balsamic vinegar.”
Williams said she named them Ray Day wings in honor of Ray Lewis, a player for the Baltimore Ravens.
“He’s retiring this year and he’s been doing so much for the game for them,” she said. “I thought I would dedicate them to him, and they ended up winning.”
Williams, the manager of a Destin condominium complex, said the NBC caller asked her how many recipe contests she’s won.
It was the first time she actually had to stop and think about it.
“I never sat down and counted them,” Williams said. “It was like over 30 in less than 21 months. Most of those were won in 2012. I never realized how many I’ve won.
“I thought, ‘Oh goodness, I’m the crazy contest maniac,’ but I figure I’ve got to cook anyway so I might as well enter it in a contest. Cooking is my love and passion. I just enjoy doing it more than anything, and that’s the truth of the matter.”
Want to watch?
Crestview chef Sherri Williams will appear on NBC's "Today" sometime between 7 and 11 a.m., Feb. 1.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.