RAWFULLY TEMPTING!!! How thrilled I was when I was contacted by Veria TV to participate in this exciting event. Veria TV's celebrity chef Andrea Beaman, host of 'Fed Up' made guest appearances in several cities celebrating the freshness of summer seasonal foods. Yours truly was invited to compete in a cook-off with 2 other chefs, which took place on June 26th, 2011at the Glastonburry, Ct Whole Foods.
I was the only raw chef asked to participate in this event, so I was really excited to demonstrate something exceptionally yummy.
My assignment - was to come up with a QUICK and easy dish using summer squash. We had only 15 minutes to prepare on camera and about 30 minutes prep time prior to that. The program was video taped, although it was supposed to be aired on live stream. Keep your eyes open for updates as I'll let you know when the competition video is being aired. The recipe I selected was Champagne Mango Cream Sauce on Squash "Pasta."
This was an awesome challenge for me and a marvelous learning experience. It was also incredibly rewarding! W and I had to leave at 5am and drive 4 hours to Glastonbury Connecticut. I prepped a lot of my food and lugged a couple of coolers and boxes and a borrowed VitaMix for the occasion. My broccoli sprouts had not greened yet, so I propped a jar of them on the dashboard, in the hopes the sun would green them by the time we arrived. Within 2 hours, my little sprouties were adorably GREEN.
When all of the chefs arrived, we were ushered to the Whole Foods Prep Kitchen. What a hoot.
Andrea's segment of the program was broadcast live, so we sat nervously waiting. We did not have our stations set up and that was a bit unnerving. W found me a large rectangular pizza tray and I lined my ingredients up on that, which eased some of the tension that I was feeling. This way, when it was our time to head to our work stations, I'd have everything done. NOT!!! To my surprise, the video team approached each of us, and wanted to tape us reaching for each and every ingredient that we'd be using to create our recipes. As I picked up each ingredient, it was removed and set aside. When this was all done, everything was all over the counter and I had to set the ingredients up all over again. It's comical looking back on it now, but I was pretty nervous then. I wanted to avoid looking at the recipe and with preparing food, being interviewed, and talking to the audience, I needed the process of selecting ingredients to be as mindless as possible, with all my ducks (or ingredients) in a row!
The area was very nice and there were about 50 members in our audience. The only drawback was that we had to bend over the stainless steel work area (you can't see it in the photo), and reach up onto the top counter so the audience could see what we were doing. They gave us a platform to stand on, that raised us up a few inches, but the VitaMix is so tall, it was a little challenging to get my food into it. A few times, I just removed the container from the motor and worked on the lower counter surface that was directly in front of me.
Andrea introduced me as "Barbara Ann," which by the way, is not my name, but I didn't say anything until the end, when she repeated it again at the close of the program. Too funny! And we were off and running- except for the fact that Andrea was talking to the other girls and I needed to BLEND! I was afraid to turn on the blender and drown out the sound. The sound guy signaled for me to wait, but this was after all, a contest...and time was ticking away! Eventually, I just started to blend, and Andrea is quite vibrant and animated and had no problem speaking over the hum of my VM. Yay Andrea!
We were told we had 5 minutes left and I was getting ready to plate....so I slowed down. Andrea started talking to me, asking me questions and the next thing I knew she was urging us to "wrap things up" and that we had 30 seconds!!!! WHAT??? I started throwing my plate together. I felt like a kid in a relay race, giving it all I had to get to the finish line and in this case, get all of the ingredients in place- except for my black sesame seeds. I forgot those. When I attempted to quickly toss them on, too many came out of the bottle too fast. But it was all good. It still looked pretty. I also ended up having to pour my Champagne Mango Cream Sauce right out of the blender, onto the food, because there was no time to put it into a bowl or pitcher and delicately spoon it out. More fun!
The two other chefs did a beautiful job on their cooked dishes. Lisa made a stuffed eggplant dish, and Najwa made a Quinoa Salad with Pan Roasted Asparagus.. Both looked delightful, although none of us ever got to taste each others dishes. We were too busy feeding the hungry crowd.
Andrea was the official judge and began to taste each of our dishes and comment. I stood anxiously awaiting her reaction. I realized this was going to be a challenge because I was preparing a raw dish for a group of people that were not raw. The theme was about summer and seasonal ingredients. What could be more summery than a light mango cream sauce, served over spiralized zucchini and yellow squash?
I was so pleasantly surprised and immensely elated when Chef Andrea Beaman selected my dish as The Winner!!!! This was the first time I'd ever challenged myself to something like this and it felt so good to have my dish selected. I also won a nice Whole Foods gift certificate, but the experience was worth so much more than that to me. My favorite part was when the audience came up to taste the dish. Everyone wanted to know about the spiralizer, what it was called and where to get it. None were familiar with Champagne Mangoes and asked about those. It was so exciting to be able to answer questions about raw food, and to see the expressions on their faces as they tasted my dish. I ran out of food, and quickly tossed more spiralized squash onto the plate with some of the cream sauce and garnish, just to be able to let people taste more of the combination. When we were cleaning up, one of the audience members begged me to let her take the leftover Champagne Mango Cream Sauce home because she loved it so much. W found a container for her, and we sent her home with the goods!
Thanks so much for your love and support, and all of your fabulous comments and feedback to my previous posts here and on Facebook. You guys ROCK! Blessings- Barbara
PS- I'm not sure where the video will be posted..but here is the VERIA TV link: