Lincoln chef wins $5k and regional title in General Mills' Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest

Union Leader Correspondent
August 20. 2018 12:39AM

Standing in the Gypsy Cafe on Aug. 17, Chef Dan Duris holds a plate of Bacon Corn Johnny Cakes with Maple Drizzle, which won him $5,000 and the title of Northeast Region champion in the 2018 General Mills Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest. (John Koziol)

LINCOLN — Sweet, but with a little heat, different but familiar, and ultimately delicious, the Bacon Corn Johnny Cakes with Maple Drizzle concocted by Dan Duris has earned the Manchester native $5,000 and the title of Northeast Region winner in the 2018 Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest from General Mills.

Chef and co-owner of the Gypsy Café, which he operates on Main Street with help from his wife Kristy, and mother and fellow co-owner Claire Allard, Duris on Aug. 17 was presented a check by General Mills officials who, as part of the contest, also gave $1,000 to a charity of his choice: Jean’s Playhouse.

Automatically entered into the running for the national title, which would mean an additional $20,000 for him and $4,000 more for the playhouse, Duris grew up in the Queen City, which his mother still calls home, and attended the then Plymouth State College to major in business, but ended up in the food industry instead.

He started at the bottom, by peeling potatoes for Scott Rice, the founder of the Woodstock Inn & Brewery, and gradually honed his culinary skills. In April 2006, Duris opened the Gypsy Café, which, he explained, has an eclectic menu featuring food from around the world, albeit “with a New England twist.”

Overall, the café offers fun, unpretentious and good-tasting food, he said, punctuated with “explosions of flavor” that complement the many bright colors on the café’s walls and serving ware.

Although he’s been a restaurateur for a relatively short time, Duris has two cooking titles to his credit already.

In 2012, Duris, with a Chicken-Cranberry Cake, won $25,000 and was the national champion in a recipe contest sponsored by Ocean Spray; in 2016, he won $15,000 in a General Mills’ contest and was the national champion for his Waffled Salmon with Spicy Orange Maple Sauce.

He decided to compete in the General Mills contest again this year, “because it’s free to enter and every year I try to enter one.”

To make his 2018 winning dish, Duris used General Mills’ corn-muffin mix, which is provided to the café through the company’s restaurant-services division, and made pancakes, in between which he placed a corn-bacon aioli with just a touch of jalapeno peppers in it. The three-layer concoction was drizzled with maple syrup from Fadden’s Sugar House, which is located just one town over from Lincoln.

Sarah Peterson, who handles communications for General Mills’ Convenience & Foodservice division, said the Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest “celebrates independent restaurants and food trucks, showcases their ‘local flavor’ and recognizes the significant contribution these establishments play in their communities--helping to instill a sense of hometown pride.”

Alyca Judge, who is the division’ senior marketing manager, said she was honored to present Duris with the 2018 Northeast Region title, adding she first met he and his wife when the couple came out to General Mills’ corporate headquarters in Minneapolis, Minn., two years ago to receive his first national prize.

Judge said Duris and any recipe winner can be a finalist or win in the General Mills Neighborhood to Nation Recipe Contest up to three times.

While General Mills is keeping the actual number of 2018 entries “under wraps,” Judge said the contest, now in its fourth year, “drew participants from across the country and allowed us to select from many entries and name the five regional winners.”

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