As a 5 or so year general book employee here at the co-op, I have worked many events for many different groups. I have had the pleasure of attending events all over the state, as well as the various events that the co-op itself hosts. The 2010 Culinary Olympics hosted by UCONN Dining Services was without a doubt one of the best events that I have ever had the pleasure of working. Never before have I worked with such a large group of both knowledgeable and passionate people, and I mean both those involved competing or running the event, and those that came to see the happenings. Everyone who attended the event; from the young high school students looking to pursue a career in the Culinary world, to the chefs, to the passionate foodies were all in high spirits and eager to experience a day of cooking and culinary experience. Everyone including myself.
I will admit that I am a closet foodie……ok maybe not so closet. I love to cook (although according to my husband not very well), I love to bake, and perhaps most important I love to eat. I am addicted to the food network, and to food network magazine. I am constantly in search of new recipes, some of which I might actually cook. Every Sunday I am tuned into Iron Chef America and most evening I have FN on in the background as we go about our chores. When I was told about this event months ago, I begged my boss to allow me to be the one to work it. All week I have been anticipating with glee my Thursday activities. All I can really say is that the day did not disappoint.
Among many other things, there were 3 main competitions. The first was a recipe contest featuring many wonderful dishes including a chocolate cheesecake and Nori wrapped Tuna w/crabmeat. These were all unique recipes submitted by their creators and they all looked mouthwatering.
The second competition was a cake decorating contest featuring a theme of Woodstock. The six entries were both creative and amazing, as well as far above anything that I would have been capable of.
The final competition was called Boiling Point, but for those FN fans out there it was basically a cross between Iron Chef and Chopped. There were 16 teams of 3 chefs competing. They were given a basket of mystery ingredients and asked to prepare 3 appetizers having to use all of the ingredients at least once in 90 minutes. The basket included things like crab legs, tomatillos and blue cornmeal. The organizers staggered the starting times of the competitors of this event, so at any point an observer could see several different stages of cooking happening at once. Though obviously a difficult challenge for the chefs, they awed us all with the ease with which they completed their tasks. All of the chefs were friendly and informative as they interacted with their audiences. They shared their tips and experiences with those watching, creating a very energetic and captive atmosphere.
The co-op itself sponsored 2 wonderful cookbook writers to come and attend the event. Matthew Scialabba and Melissa Pellegrino are a down to earth and outgoing husband and wife team with a passion for Italian food and culture. They have worked together to create a wonderful cookbook called The Italian Farmer’s Table. They gave a short, but interesting talk about their work and were then available to autograph books. I think what impressed me most about this couple was their sheer drive. They are in their early thirties and have already both traveled abroad and published an impressive cookbook. I can’t wait to try the recipe on page 272, Torta Di Ciocolatto, otherwise known as Chocolate Cake.
I suppose that I have run on long enough, but I just can’t tell you all enough just how wonderful this event was. The event is annual, and I for one can’t wait for next year’s event. I only have one complaint…I didn’t get to taste it all!! And I only have one question…..What do I have to do to be a judge next year?