Peggy Linberg of Upland has a history of success at the L.A. County Fair.

Linberg has won numerous food contests at the fair.

She recently took first place in this year's first annual Grilled Cheese competition.

Question: How many competitions have you entered at the L.A. County Fair and what were your placements?

Answer: This year I have entered eight contests. I have a first place in Ghirardelli, grilled cheese sandwiches, and savory cheesecake, and a second in chili and a third in barbecue sauce.

Q: The Grilled Cheese competition is new this year. What did you think of it?

A: This contest was a lot of fun because it was a live contest. We had 30 minutes to make our sandwich and a lot of people were standing near us and watching. The hardest part was choosing which sandwich to make because there are so many delicious combinations that are possible.

Q: Why did you decided to participate in the competitions?

A: I like coming to the fair and by signing up for a lot of the competitions I can come many times during the run of the fair. That way I don't have to do the fair all in one day. I also like thinking about all the different recipes that I might make during the year. It stretches me as a cook.

Q: What other competitions have you participated in?

A: I started about 30 years ago with the table decorations at the fair.


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I did that for a few years and then noticed that they were doing the cooking competitions, and I started signing up for them also. My daughter Barrie started entering the children's competitions when she was 5 years old and did it until she was old enough to start entering as an adult. We then competed against each other and we had a lot of fun. George Geary ran the cooking competitions at the fair for many years and he encouraged me to enter recipe contests outside of the fair. This year I entered one sponsored by Bays English Muffins, and I won a trip to Italy.

Q: What is the process for competing at the fair?

A: It's very easy. All the info is online. You have to sign up for the contests usually by Aug 1. They cost $5 per contest.

Q: How long have you been cooking and where did you learn?

A: I can remember making cookies when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I have three brothers and one sister and I would come home from school and make a batch of cookies just to unwind. I don't have a sweet tooth so it was great that all my siblings would then eat the cookies. I have always enjoyed reading cookbooks and experimenting with recipes.

Q: What are your favorites dishes to make and why?

A: I prefer main dishes and appetizers and breads. I grow a lot of my own veggies so I like to incorporate them in the dishes.

Q: Where do you get inspiration for your dishes?

A: My dad was in the Army and we moved around a lot. I got to taste foods from many different parts of the country and the world so I take little bits of ideas from everywhere.

Q: What do your friends and family think of your cooking?

A: I think my family enjoys it as they get to taste test all of the different entries and possible entries.I have three children and we have been cooking together since they were old enough to stand on a chair and dump ingredients into a mixing bowl. They are now all very good cooks. I also take possible entrees to parties and my friends then become the unofficial tasters and they will give me feedback.