HARRISBURG – A heated “battle of the sexes” culinary competition between two celebrity chefs and their teams of local media personalities fired up the opening day of the 2009 Pennsylvania Farm Show on the PA Preferred Culinary Connection Stage.
The men’s team, led by Richard Blais, contestant on Bravo’s “Top Chef” season three and Food Network’s “Iron Chef America,” was victorious. The team included Rod Cowan, of WHP-TV CBS 21; Matt Belanger, of WGAL NBC 8; and Mike Miller of BOB 94.9 FM.
“Our team was inspired by the bounty of the Farm Show,” said Blais. “Even all the fancy tools I use as a molecular gastronomist cannot hide the wonderful flavors of fresh, locally grown food.”
The teams searched the show to find PA Preferred products to complement locally-produced mystery ingredients, which included pork tenderloin, mushrooms, apples, pig ears, russet potatoes, blue cheese and tart cherries.
The PA Preferred branding program was designed to help consumers easily locate products grown or processed in Pennsylvania by the state’s more than 2,000 program member companies.
The men’s creation of pork and Brussels sprouts sauced with a root beer reduction was chosen as the winning dish by judges Chef Michael Finch, of Bricco in Harrisburg, Dauphin County; Chef Rob Iannaccone, 2008 Pennsylvania Pork Producers Taste of Elegance winner and sous chef at Brookside Country Club, in Macungie, Lehigh County; and JoAnna Gresham, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Marketing Director.
The women’s team was led by Chef Louisa Chu, “Iron Chef America” judge, “Anothony Bourdain: No Reservations” fixer, and “Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie” foodie on PBS. Team members included Valerie Pritchett, of WHTM ABC 27; Nancy Ryan, of BOB 94.9 FM; and Keely Childers, of Susquehanna Style Magazine.
Chu and her team utilized scrapple and chow-chow, in addition to the mystery ingredients, to pay tribute to the state’s Pennsylvania Dutch heritage.
The Food Network’s “Hungry Detective,” Chris Cognac, served as the competition’s emcee.
The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in the nation, featuring nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 270 commercial exhibitors. The eight-day show is Jan. 10-17, at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center in Harrisburg. For a complete schedule of events, visit www.farmshow.state.pa.us
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