“I didn’t know how competitive I was until I started these cooking competitions,” she said. “After that, I was hooked.”
From there, Sheppard enter competition after competition, including the 2010 Aetna Healthy Food Fight, Pretzel Crisps Appetizer Challenge, 2012 Beringer Steak Challenge and more.
She has won swag and cash prizes and had her recipes featured on product containers like Philadelphia Cooking Creme and in cookbooks, as well as appeared on television programs such as the 2013 Anderson Live Cookie Challenge.
Sheppard said she likes to cook everything, but she is probably best at Italian, Mexican and comfort food. She also enjoys mixing vinaigrettes and spicy ingredients like sriracha with sweets.
“You can come up with so many flavors with these kind of combinations,” she said.
On June 29, Sheppard entered one of her biggest competitions yet, the OKC Bull Burger Battle. It was for amateurs and professionals and was a qualifying competition for the World Food Championships. Sheppard said the temperatures outside were more than 100 degrees. While she was cooking, asphalt melted into her tennis shoes.
“I almost didn’t go because of the heat, and the competition was open to professionals,” she said. “I had these two big guys standing on my left who were professional chefs. It was intimidating.”
Sheppard’s Big Bite Best-Of-The-Bull Burger with smoky chipotle-tequila tomato jam, jicama and avocado relish and a chipotle bacon mustard aioli was tasty enough to impress judges and secure a win to qualify for the World Food Championships.
Facing more than 300 competitors from around the world, Sheppard competed tournament style in the World Food Championships in Las Vegas at the end of December.
With seven categories — including barbecue, chili, burger, dessert, sandwich, bacon and recipe — Sheppard competed in the burger category. She prepared her OKC Bull Burger Battle winning burger and a patty melt using TNT seasoned hamburger patties, which was a requirement for all competitors’ second burger.