By Molly Rosenblatt

MINEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A local chef is taking her signature Minnesota dish to the World Food Championships in Alabama later this week, and WCCO got a look at her skills and what she’s fixing-up for the big competition.

“I cook like grandma used to,” Ginny Louden said. “I like butter, I like cheese. I don’t really cook healthy food.”

Louden has been coooking since she was 10 years old.

“I was cooking the family dinner most nights of the week,” she said. “Both my parents worked full time. I had five brothers.”

The self-taught chef is now getting ready to compete in her first big event. She’ll leave Wednesday for the World Food Championships. They call it the the ultimate food fight experience, where more than 400 amateur and professional chefs will compete.

“When I had to come up with my sandwich to enter the competition, they wanted something that represented me and the state I’m from,” Louden said. “I thought, ‘Well, wild rice casserole — that’s super Minnesotan.'”

Louden’s hot ham and wild rice sandwich includes her signature dish — and that recipe was handed down years ago by her grandmother.

“My grandma used to make it when I was a kid, and then she passed away,” Louden said. “Then later on in life, I was like, ‘Oh, I really wan to make this wild rice casserole.’ So I called my mom for the recipe and she sent it over, but it tasted nothing like I remembered it.”

So Louden did some experimenting — she played around with the ingredients until it tasted the way she remembered as a kid. Little did she know at the time, grandma’s wild rice casserole would represent her in this golden opportunity.

“I have never done anything to this magnitude with cooking, so to me, win or lose, I am just so excited to be going,” Louden said. ‘Even if I take last place, this is an experience of a lifetime.”

There are six rounds in the competition. The winner of their round wins $10,000. The overall grand prize is $100,000

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