Panera Breaducation Contest

Recently I received word that Panera Bread was having a "Breaducation Contest".

The "Breaducation" challenge offers bread-lovers a one-of-a-kind cook-off competition that could make their culinary dreams come true. Throughout the month of August, Chicago-area home cooks can visit their nearest Panera Bread or visit to enter the competition and submit a short essay (500 words or less) explaining their undying love for food. (Contest ends 8/31!)

The top three contestants will compete on Saturday, October 1st at Le Cordon Bleu where they will create recipes incorporating french baguettes into a decadent dish. Panera Bread head chef Tom Gumpel and “Chef'testant Tiffany Derry from Bravo's Top Chef" will be among a panel of judges choosing the winning dish. The Breaducation winner will receive a grand prize package from from Panera Bread and Le Cordon Bleu to feed their culinary dreams.

I thought that I'd share with you my entry into the contest!

Sliced Bread: A Love/Hate Relationship:

From the age of six to the age of 14 I brought my lunch to school Growing up in a school district with no sign of a cafeteria in sight until high school, I grew up eating lunch in the elementary school gym and then in middle school a place known as “The Commons”. “The Commons” could be likened to a culinary dungeon where ham sandwiches went to die, along with the occasional fruit snack.

When I moved into my own apartment after college I vowed that I would never eat a regular slice of bread again. Friends and family find it odd that as a food blogger, great home cook and a food lover in general that I could so easily kick sliced bread to the curb. It’s not that I’m a bread hater though. I’m a huge fan of the Panini, fresh baguettes, Hawaiian bread rolls, croutons and more; it’s just the thought of one more pre-made, locker-stored, mustard-soaked, soggy, sliced bread sandwich makes me gag on command.

But it’s not all a sob story. My love/hate relationship with sliced bread helped me blossom into the creative chef I consider myself today. Finally with a kitchen all of my own I was able to experiment with different kinds of bread and sandwiches and came up with some epic recipes for Panini’s, quesadillas (which I like to consider a kind of sandwich of their own-along with tacos), crunchy picnic baguettes and more. I’d share them here, but I don’t want anyone stealing them :-p! I love the creative release that cooking and baking give me after a long day at work and I especially love sharing with my friends and family. My apartment has a great rooftop overlooking the city and on Sunday’s my friends come over for a feast (usually my fish tacos with homemade mango salsa) that we eat while enjoying the sunset.

My love of cooking and baking combined with my talent for writing turned into a part-time job when I started writing a food blog for the Chicago Tribune’s website:, where I am "Stephanie Eats Chicago" (the name of my blog). While I really wish I could write and cook full-time I still have to keep my day-job at a public relations agency to pay my ridiculous rent. My dream would be to quit working, go to culinary school and start up my own restaurant and microbrewery with my boyfriend (who brews his own beer). While watching the Food Network night and day have certainly helped me hone some of my skills I think that nothing compares to real hands-on classes that winning the Panera Breaducation Contest could provide me with. And nothing could make me happier than learning how to bake my own sliced bread that I might actually consider using for one last ham sandwich.


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