NORMAN — Norman resident Sandi Sheppard won’t settle for your typical meatloaf or casserole. She insists on tweaking and mixing unusual ingredients like blueberries and steak. This winter, she competed in one of the biggest food competitions in the United States: the World Food Championships.
The competition is set to air on A&E this spring.
Sheppard said she hopes to make Oklahoma proud and loves using ingredients representative of the area, like bison.
A self-taught cook, Sheppard has described her cooking as “family approved” and has more than 50 years experience in the kitchen whipping up unique, delicious dishes.
“As soon as I could see the top of the stove, I wanted to cook,” she said.
Sheppard said after school, she would religiously watch Julia Child and, when she was 14, decided to make a candlelit dinner for her parents.
“I couldn’t drive, and I didn’t have any money. So my parents had to take me to the store and pay for everything, but I was able to make a four-to-five-course meal with dishes from what I’d seen on Julia Child,” Sheppard said.
However, it wasn’t until 2010 that Sheppard considered participating in cooking competitions. After her oven broke, Sheppard took a look around her 20-plus year kitchen and decided it needed a change.
“I wanted to remodel my kitchen, and I wanted to make the money myself,” she said. “My husband and I run Dailey Digital Signs & Designs. I’m a graphic artist. Having your own business can be up and down, so I didn’t want the remodel money to come out of our business.”
After using the internet to search out competitions, Sheppard jumped in feet first to a national cornbread cook-off in Tennessee and was selected as a finalist for her Cheesy Succulent Tomato Pie on a Tomato-Rosemary Cornbread Crust.