Home chef winner dishes on Cajun-meets-comfort cooking

Jan. 11, 2012 at 11:43 AM ET

Courtesy of Susan Noel Sands

This week's Home Chef Challenge winner is Susan Sands, a self-described "stay-at-home cook, chauffeur, laundress and mother of three." Originally from Louisiana, this home chef takes pride in her Cajun-meets-Southern comfort cooking style. Try her winning recipe for Cajun jambalaya!

Age: 44

Courtesy of Susan Noel Sands /

Hometown: Alpharetta, Ga.

How long have you been cooking?

Coming from a long line of Cajun home chefs, I don’t remember exactly when my love of cooking began. I peeled shrimp and baked the cookies and cakes with my mom before I was tall enough to reach the countertop without a step stool.

Share your favorite cooking tip

My approach to cooking is there is no hard and fast rule—to anything. Flexibility and creativity are key. If you’re feeding someone who is intolerant to garlic, leave it out and add more onions. Butter is beautiful, and spice is nice, but all things are best used in moderation.

What would be your ideal last meal?

My cooking style would best be described as Cajun meets Southern comfort. My idea of the perfect last meal would be a gigantic serving of barbequed shrimp with crusty French bread alongside red beans and rice with smoked sausage. Hey, it’s a last meal.

Are you up for the challenge? Enter your recipe here, and vote for next week's winner.