Best Home Cooks: Jenn Tidwell

For Jenn Tidwell, fresh ingredients plus easy prep make for seriously irresistible dishes. Her cool California style shines through every recipe she creates—that's why she's one of Taste of Home's Best Home Cooks.

This California Community Cook describes her style of cooking as Califusion Comfort Cuisine. Jenn likes to cook it all, from nutritious dinners to comfort food, plus decadent desserts! Here, she’s dishing about her unique cooking style.

Taste of Home: Tell us a little about you. Where do you live, who’s in your family and what do you do when you’re not cooking?

JT: I live near Sacramento in Fair Oaks, California, with my boyfriend, Steve, and my two girls; Kaia and Marlee. I don’t think I’m ever not cooking. Cooking and creating recipes is something we do all the time. We love to cook as family.

TOH: Where did your love of cooking come from?

JT: I have been baking with my mom and gram since I was a preteen, and my dad and I have always shared a passion for cooking. We’ve spent many hours in the kitchen together. The smell of chorizo brings me back to my childhood. We would make chorizo with eggs and potatoes for breakfast together, just like my gram made for my dad. As an adult, I elevated that dish and created my Chorizo and Grits Breakfast Bowl.

TOH: What inspires you to cook?

JT: I love food and cooking for others. Not only is cooking a creative outlet, I find it very therapeutic. I especially love creating new recipes. Many of them come from what I like to call “cabinet vibrations”: getting inspired by what I have on hand.

TOH: You love entering recipe contests! What was your proudest achievement?

JT: Out of hundreds entered, I have probably won somewhere around 50 contests. The contest I’m most proud of was Stanford’s Ultimate Burger Showdown. They flew me to Lake Oswego, Oregon, and treated me like a star. I won third place out of 10 finalists and won $1,000. Plus, they featured my recipe on their summer menu. My burger was topped with bacon and blue cheese, topped with a tomato jam and a schmear of mustard aioli. So good!

(Hey, Jenn! Be sure to enter Taste of Home‘s recipe contests, too!)

TOH: What recipe do you get asked to make the most?

JT: My Slow-Cooked Caribbean Pot Roast: There are lots of seasonings that create all that flavor but it’s essentially an easy dump-and-go dinner.

TOH: What do you enjoy most about being a Community Cook?

JT: It’s just that, the community. I find inspiration through my fellow Community Cooks’ recipes. They motivate me to be creative when I’m developing new recipes, which is also a hobby of mine.

TOH: What’s your desert-island meal—the one you could eat over and over again and never get tired of?

JT: A classic charcuterie board, loaded with meats, cheeses, fruits, olives, nuts, dips and crackers. I can just picture sitting on a deserted beach, noshing away on a plate full of all my favorite snacks.

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Sue Stetzel
Sue has been working with Taste of Home since 2011. When she isn’t writing, she’s answering your burning cooking questions and working with our team of Community Cooks. She spends her free time cooking, crafting, and volunteering for various organizations in her home town.