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Jackson chef competing in competition hosted by James Beard Foundation

JACKSON, Wyo. (KIFI) - After teaching for a number of years, Leah Dow-Sanchez took the dive and opened her mobile restaurant Down Home Eats.

Dow-Sanchez originally went to school to become a chef, and eventually became a teacher. Now as a full-time chef, she is a quarter-finalist in a competition that is hosted by the James Beard Foundation.

The James Beard Foundation is an organization that strives to support the people behind America's food culture. The competition they host highlights chefs moving forward in America's food culture.

Dow-Sanchez says it's been through hard work that she's made it this far, since starting the competition in May.

"I'm currently in seventh place as a quarterfinalist. Next week begins the semifinals. And in two and a half weeks from today, somebody will win $25,000. So I've worked very hard to get this far, and I'm super proud of Down Home Eats and what we offer and everything that I provide for the community that I live in," Dow-Sanchez said.

The competition isn't aired on TV, but it still is a nationwide competition.

"It's only based on people's votes and donations to the James Beard Foundation. But in that same act, it is extremely stressful because when people are eating your food, if they don't like it, they're not going to vote for you or continue to vote for you," Dow-Sanchez said.

Dow-Sanchez says she is happy to see how the Jackson community has rallied behind her and helped her to make it this far.

"At all of the events...I have a poster or little poster with a QR code. So that when people come up, I can say, 'Hey, when you eat that and you love it, come back and vote for me because I'm in a competition for $25,000.' And that really gets people like, 'Oh, I'll vote right now.' And so it's just that call to action."

Dow-Sanchez expressed gratitude for the Jackson community rallying around her.

"I've gotten a lot of votes from anonymous people that I don't even know, which is exactly how this competition is going to go. And it's exactly how Jackson and the surrounding community work. It's just that it takes a village. And this is definitely that time that I need my village to support me."

Dow-Sanchez says if she ends up winning the $25,000 from the competition, she will end up hosting a party in Jackson Town Square, and take a short vacation with her family.

You can find her pink tent every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Jackson Town Square, and at the Wednesday People's Market. You can vote for Leah and the Down Home Eats Restaurant by donating to the James Beard Foundation in her name. For more information on the competition, you can find it here.

Article Topic Follows: Wyoming

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Braydon Wilson

Braydon is a reporter for Local News 8.


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