Fresh out of ideas for what to do with those Saran-wrapped leftovers? (We're projecting to Friday here.) Thank the CIA (no, not that CIA but the Culinary Institute of America) for coming to the rescue with a genius competition. It invited budding chefs to submit videos of themselves whipping up leftovers into original, “creative” recipes, and then whittled down the numbers to just nine.

It's a win-win situation: The cook with the most votes by December 7 receives a $5,000 scholarship to the NY-based cooking school, while we finally get some viable alternatives to endless turkey sandwiches, not to mention a legitimate excuse to go on to YouTube for a change.

The clips are a hoot, from the wrist-slashingly dull (sorry, Amanda) to the endearing if slightly scary (Jamil) to the is-she-for-real (Aubrey–this prospective student can't pronounced garam masala and seems to be ignoring a crying baby while she tries to impress us with her butternut squash). Meanwhile, Anne's demo of curried turkey and sweet potato empanadas with butternut squash dipping salsa (phew!) might have got a look-in had it not been accompanied by Gloria Estefan's intensely irritating “Conga”.

But there's also some real talent here–young Michael bakes a mighty croustade, while Pamela's professional-looking submission features fancy fades and wipes (although, sorry, Pam, turkey medallions just will not cut it).

My money, however, is on Christina (Christina with the Pilgrims Pie, that is, not Christina with the pierogis, as she's cooking in what appears to be a professional kitchen: I smell a rat!) She's friendly, passionate and, while her recipe might be a tad ambitious for the great hungover masses, at least she's aiming high.

Get voting, people!

LA Weekly