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Rukstales' sandwiches named Best in the World

Lori Rukstales (second from left) with the check she won $10,000 from the World Food Championships. She is surrounded by (left to right) Kari Karch, Head Chef for Kenmore, Mike McCloud, CEO of the World Food Championships and Larry Oliphant, World Food Championships Vice-President Strategic Partnerships. (Submitted photo)

The start on how Lori Rukstales ended up with $10,000 came thanks to a friend.
“I was hearing about Caryl Wiley’s experiences in the 2013 World Food Championships and became interested,” Rukstales said. “I like to cook.”

The interest then started which led to earlier this month as the Roberts woman walked away with first place at the World Food Championships in the sandwich category and the $10,000 prize.

“I thought I had a chance,” Rukstales said, about claiming first. “But, I was flabbergasted when they announced my name.”

Rukstales qualified for the Worlds by taking first place at the River Falls Bacon Bash in September.

At the Worlds, she had to make two sandwiches before being placed in the top 10. The first one, was a Peanut Butter and Jelly with jalapenos and bacon.

She explained the origin of the sandwich: Growing up she had peanut butter and bacon on toast, her substitute for Bacon, Lettuce and Tomatoes, as she didn’t like raw tomatoes.  

“I was thinking on how I could expand it,” she said, which include different kinds of jelly, specific kinds of bread before adding jalapenos. Rukstales also decided to grill it, and the results were fantastic.

“It’s a dynamic sandwich,” she said, adding it tastes like grilled cheese.

The second sandwich was a steak sandwich which included shredded apple and brie cheese.

Rukstales said she knew ahead of time, a steak sandwich was one of the requirements, so multiple combinations were tried before she settled on her entry.

“After a month, I was sick of steak sandwiches,” she said.

After the announcement she made the top 10, came her final sandwich -- a Chicken and Waffle sandwich with an egg on it, she called ‘Mother and Child reunion.’

“There’s a lot of things that goes into it besides making a sandwich,” she said. “It’s a test of your cooking skills and working under pressure.”

Rukstales explained judging was based on the EAT methodology -- 35 percent execution, 15 percent appearance and 50 percent taste.

“I kind of kept it basic,” she said. “No competing flavors.”

She thanked her husband, Bruce, for helping strategize on recipes and their location while in Florida, where the Food Championships were held.

“We rented a villa,” she said. “I don’t think I could come up with the winning sandwich in a hotel room.”

Rukstales also praised the behind-the-scenes action, in particular her fellow competitors helping her out when she needed it.

“I dropped a special jar of jelly and it broke,” she explained. “I didn’t know where I could get one, but the people were so helpful, giving and friendly.”

She added the winnings will go towards home improvement projects. As for next year, she is automatically entered into next year’s Worlds.

Rukstales concluded by thanking those at the River Falls Chamber of Commerce for sponsoring the Bacon Bash every year.

“It was a great experience,” she said. “I was so proud to represent River Falls at the Worlds.”

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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