Mom’s recipe earns trip to the Big Apple and an appearance on ‘Emeril’ Live’
Patti Sells | News-Telegram Feature Editor

Jan. 26, 2007 - New York in December is an exciting experience, with its beautiful holiday window displays and the enormous tree in Rockefeller Center to behold, not to mention all the other wonderful sights.

But the Big Apple was made even more thrilling for two Hopkins County natives who were featured guests on “Emeril Live,” filmed at the Food Network studios. The show will be aired at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27.

Chris Owens won a 2-night, 3-day, all-expense paid trip to New York after submitting one of his mother’s recipes in an “Emeril Live” football foods contest.  Emma Owens’ recipe was one of four winners out of 1,500 entries.

�The trip was great,� said Chris. �A once in a lifetime experience.�

Recipe winners, two from Texas, gathered around the studio’s kitchen bar Friday, Dec. 15, for the live filming in front of an audience of 175 while Emeril prepared each of the winning recipes. As he prepared each individual dish, a film clip was shown introducing the contestant as they prepared the dish in the kitchens of their own homes, and telling a little about the recipe.

�It was just a short clip, but it took about 6 hours of filming. �There�s a lot more to it than it looks like from home,� Chris said of the filming, both at his Coppell home and in the New York studio.�

After all the dishes were complete, each winner got to taste the other recipes.

�They were all delicious,� Chris said of ribs marinated in bourbon and apple juice, crab cakes, and an Italian sausage hamburger, in addition to his own, which won in the casserole category.

The recipe Chris entered into the football foods contest is called Black Eyes of Texas Casserole, better known in the Owens family as Mama’s Black-Eyed Pea Casserole. 

Mother and son both said the studio filming was more like a pep rally with all the music and hand clapping going on.

�Part of the staffs job was to get the audience excited,� Emma explained. �They did a good job of it. And Emeril was very personable. During breaks, he talked and visited with the contest winners. It was a lot of fun.

�They were all wonderful,�� Emma added, speaking not only of the staff� but the recipes as well.

Each contestant had to also submit a short essay about their recipe, and Chris feels his essay might have been a key factor in being selected as one of the winners.

�A part of it could have been the mystique of the black-eyed pea�s tradition for good luck and tying it all in with the tradition of watching the games on New Year�s Day,� he explained.�

Whatever the reason for the win, the Owens found their must be some truth to the old Southern tradition of black-eyed peas bringing good luck.

In addition to their visit to the Food Network studios in Chelsea Market, the Owens said they saw as much as they could on their 3-day adventure, taking in the sights at Central Park, Tavern on the Green, the tree in Rockefeller Center, as well as a cruise on the Staten Island Ferry for a close-up view of the Statue of Liberty. An up close view of Ground Zero, however, was a special highlight of the trip.

�It was most humbling,� Emma said. �It really put things in perspective.�

As for entering more contests, Chris’s response was, “I don’t see any reason not to. This one turned out all right.”

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