Harrisburg - Celebrity chefs and local media personalities searched for ingredients, mixed with caution, and developed amazing mushroom-themed dishes to impress the judges in the Celebrity Chefs and Media Cook Off on the PA Preferred Culinary Connection Stage on Saturday, Jan. 8, at the 2011 Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg.
In a "girls versus boys" challenge, celebrity chef Tiffany Derry, from Bravo's Top Chef, teamed up with ABC27's Valerie Pritchett and Susquehanna Style Magazine's Keely Childers.
Bravo Top Chef Ed Cotton teamed up with Matt Belanger of WGAL and Newman of BOB Radio's "Nancy and Newman" show.
The slap of pans on the stove and knives chopping on cutting boards was accompanied by much banter across both teams as competition ensued, triggering hilarious rivalry.
To start the competition both teams were given a set of required ingredients, most of which were PA Preferred products, including fresh zucchini, tomatoes, fish and Hershey's cocoa powder.
Teams were given 30 minutes to create a complete plate and each chose two wines prior to discovering their secret ingredients. Guest Judge Chris Brand, public and community relations manager for Giant Food Stores, said, "Since the chefs were given the same initial ingredients, it's like being given all different musical notes but not knowing exactly what kind of music you were going to hear."
Other judges included Jennifer Eckinger, executive director of the Pennsylvania Wine Association, and Wes Trout, district sales manager and product trainer for BSH Home Appliances.
Eckinger, a second-year judge, said, "It's amazing to see all competitors having a good time but still being very serious about the competition." She added she will be "happy to see a team win bragging rights for a year."
As the judges tasted and deliberated on the dishes, a surprise guest popped out from behind the stage - the Philly Phanatic, mascot for the Philadelphia Phillies. Wild cheering erupted when he walked on stage, and he entertained the crowd with his antics and "helped" the judges choose a winner.
In the end, the guys beat the gals but all contestants exchanged warm congratulations.
For more information on the PA Preferred branding program or the Culinary Connection, visit www.papreferred.com.
The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in the nation, featuring nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 290 commercial exhibitors. The show runs Jan. 8-15 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg. Admission is free and parking is $10. Visit www.farmshow.state.pa.us for details.
For more information, visit www.farmshow.state.pa.us.
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