We met with this award-winning grill-lover and Allrecipes Allstar to find out more about her and the food she loves to share.

france c headshot

Cook To Follow: France C.

This award-winning home cook has a ginormous spice collection, is inspired by her grandmother's cooking, and was struck by lightning as a teen. Let's meet her!

Also known as: France Cevallos of Aurora, Illinois. I grew up in Canada, in Terrace Bay, Ontario.

My day job: I work in a police department's investigations unit.

My other jobs: Cooking, food experiments, and photography.

Recent cooking success: Winning the Allrecipes Allstars cooking competition. My team got a list of ingredients (bacon, picante sauce, green beans, and sweet potatoes) and 30 minutes to come up with a dish. We whipped up a bacon-sweet potato hash on a bed of sautéed green beans, topped with a fried egg, guacamole, and goat cheese.

Who I cook for : Myself mostly, since I live alone, but also my boyfriend, friends, and coworkers. (They gladly accept extras!) I also feel like I cook for my social media followers.

Few people know: I was struck by lightning when I was in my teens during a camping trip.

If I could have a superpower: Is eating as much as I want and not gaining weight a superpower? Because that would be pretty cool. Otherwise, I'd love to be invisible.

In my fridge right now: Homemade preserved lemons, gravlax, prosciutto, and 12 types of cheese (oopsie!).

Food discovery that changed my life: Sous vide cooking, especially chicken. Yes, this is life-changing! It makes the most juicy and tender chicken breast you will ever eat.

Kitchen tool I can't live without: My Wi-Fi multiprobe meat thermometer. It lets me monitor my food from anywhere, set temperature alarms, and I don't have to worry about over- or undercooking anything.

I could tell you my secret recipe: for French Canadian Tourtière (meat pie). But then I'd have to make you promise to invite me over every time you made it.

Who inspires MY cooking: My maternal grandmother. She cooked from scratch daily for her family of 14(!), pretty much spending the whole day and night in the kitchen. She has influenced all the cooks in my family, and her memory lives on in her recipes.

My obsessions include: buying spices (I have 162 at the moment, with a whole kitchen cabinet dedicated to them), true-crime podcasts, thrillers, food trucks, and wine.

A Few of My Favorite Things...

My Allstars recipe cook-off teammates (that's Naomi Geara Lopes in the middle with me and Carol Castellucci-Miller). Our recipe won!

france c winning pork to fork competition
Photo: France C.

I'm in my Chicago flag tank at the Lincoln Park Zoo. You can get some of the best views of the city from here. Plus I can spend hours watching the monkeys!

france c in chicago
Photo: France C.

I love to vacation in the Canadian Rockies, where my family now lives. In the photo, I'm there with my boyfriend, Bryan, taking in amazing views on top of Sulphur Mountain in Banff, Alberta. We've also kayaked the Illinois River.

france c with boyfriend
Photo: France C.

I come from a family of wine-lovers (this is my dad, Lucien, and mom, Fernande, at a wine tasting in Chicago). Not just French wine, either, even though I'm constantly introducing myself as "France, like the country." France is a pretty common French-Canadian name, but here in the U.S., some are convinced my name must be Frances, Francis, or Francine.

france c with wine
Photo: France C.

Signature Recipe

"I love to cook anything on the grill or smoker. In fact, my signature recipe is this Simple Smoked Pork Butt with Brown Sugar Barbecue Rub."

pork butt sandwich
Photo: Kathryn Gamble

Follow France C. to see more of her recipes.

This article originally appeared in the August/September 2019 issue of Allrecipes Magazine.