O'Hare cook-off sends chef to James Beard Gala

CHICAGO (WLS) -- After a 30-minute cooking sprint, one lucky chef has earned a VIP trip to the James Beard Awards Gala in Chicago this spring.

DeAndre Smith sizzled to victory against three other finalists in a live cook-off at O'Hare International Airport's Terminal 2. The annual "Channel Your Inner Chef" contest (in its fifth year) put on by HMS Host encourages anyone over 18 to submit a video of their creative dishes. Then the finalists face-off at O'Hare--preparing and plating a meal using ingredients they aren't briefed on.

The judges, including ABC 7's Ryan Chiaverini, thought Smith's brown sugar-glazed chicken with pureed yams, flash-fried kale, and pickled rainbow carrots stuck out from the pack.

He's thrilled to have the honor and opportunity to attend the prestigious James Beard Awards Gala, and said he hopes to win one of those culinary awards in the future.

Smith wasn't the only one having fun. O'Hare travelers took in the action, plus dance performances and free food being passed around.
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