Aug 29

Passing the Torch

Clean food is just one piece of the puzzle to creating a sustainable food system and healthy communities. Empowering our youth to do the same is the other.  Just last week I had the opportunity to be a judge for Farmington High School’s Battle of the Teen Chefs. Two teams armed with $75 to shop The Hill-Stead Farmers Market for all of their ingredients and 75 minutes to prepare three courses, equals one competition full of locally grown produce and talent. Talkin’ about good clean fun!

The two teams in contention? Teen Battle Chef Alumni – all graduates of a year-long class taught by Chef Paul Obarowski of Matthew’s Restaurant, versus Team Farm-to-Table – also graduates, but of Paul’s week-long summer intensive class. Each team was judged on organization, sanitation, teamwork, knife skills, utilization and knowledge of available produce, presentation, creativity and, of course, taste.

In the end, the teams were only separated by 5 points! But more important than who won was that both teams demonstrated the ability to create outside the box, to take risks with unusual produce, to combine tastes and textures, to include a rainbow of colors, and to do it all with organization and grace. We judges were treated to steamed and stuffed pattypan squash, a stuffed heirloom tomato, gently sauteed purple potatoes, an herb marinated eggplant burger with cabbage and even hand-whipped honey butter (the result of whipped cream made with a little too much muscle). All I can say is, YUM!

Congratulations to all who participated and thanks for showing the rest of us at the market how easy and delicious locally grown seasonal produce is! Thanks to Chef Paul for teaching and inspiring our children to nourish themselves with clean food, and to my fellow judges, State Representative Bill Wadsworth and Executive Chef of Max’s Oyster Bar, Scott Miller. Finally, special thanks to Peggy Hall for all she does to make the Hill-Stead Farmers Market an incredible community gathering spot and an important resource for locally grown produce and products in the Farmington Valley.

Eat clean live well!

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