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Winner of Your Best Chili Pepper Recipe

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Congratulations to a la Alison, whose Braised Pork Belly Tacos with Watermelon, Jicama & Jalapeño Salsa won this week's contest for Your Best Chili Pepper Recipeearning her big prizes from VikingOXO and Tiny Prints, and a spot in the next food52 cookbook!


Q&A with a la Alison

Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
My dad really sparked my love of cooking. One of my earliest memories of cooking is rolling out strips of fluffy dough, cutting it into little pieces and dragging them on the back of a fork to make ricotta gnocci. It is still one of my favorites.

What's your least favorite food?
Certain mushrooms.

What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
This recipe! Or an Ahi Tuna + Watermelon Ceviche.

Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
When my roommate Adriane & I planned to move in together, we were most excited about our kitchen and cooking together. We decided the first meal in the kitchen would be Thanksgiving for friends, we thought it was a crime this meal was only to be enjoyed once a year. We moved in during August, so the heat AND the limited availability of whole turkeys was a challenge. We made a table using a sheet of plywood on two saw horses, threw a table cloth on it and had a feast! It was fantastic!

What is your idea of comfort food?
Homemade pasta or a well-made soup.

Apron or no apron?
Baking or jamming -- yes apron. Otherwise, no.

What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
Hook: the imaginary feast when Pan (Robin Williams) rejoins the lost boys. Bangerang!

If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
My grandmother. She was an extraordinary pastry chef in Northeast Philly. She baked out of her kitchen for everyone in the neighborhood: graduation cakes, communions, wedding cakes, everything. She had a stroke when I was two, so I only know of her legendary cooking through others, and she passed before she got to try mine. I think she would be proud.

You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood.
C. depends on my mood -- but always with my roommate Adriane, we make a good team.

When it comes to tidying up, you usually: a. clean as you cook, b. do all the dishes once you've finished cooking, c. leave the kitchen a shambles for your spouse/roommate/kids to clean.
A. Clean as I cook: Mise en place.


And remember, on top of the normal bounty of prizes, a la Alison will also receive a private cooking party for 10 at the Ger-Nis Culinary & Herb Center in Brooklyn any time in the next year. 

Ger-Nis is also extending a 25% discount to Food52 members for all events during their Chili Pepper Festival: A Celebration of All Things Hot! from Thursday, August 18th through Sunday, August 21st (including All-Access Passes) -- four days of classes on things like chili roasting and pickling, full of spicy cocktails, chocolates, and hot sauces galore. See the full calendar of classes and events here and use the promo code FOOD52.