Livers and licorice: Chefs, locals get creative
Imagine you are presented with black licorice, chicken livers and a bottle of sherry vinegar as the ingredients to create a dish.
Here's another twist: You only have 10 minutes to prepare and serve it.
This was reality for four teams of two chefs at Gettysburg's 15th annual Taste of the Town on Sunday.
The event, hosted by the Gettysburg Adams Chamber of Commerce, featured food tastings from local restaurants, bakeries, wineries and businesses.
But it also featured a fight to the finish. Local chefs paired with members of the business community during the Top Local Celebrity Chef Competition. Each team had to prepare three inventive dishes using secret ingredients from local vendors.
They had 10 minutes to create an appetizer, 15 minutes to create an entree and another 10 minutes to complete dessert. Each dish was served to a panel of judges with years of experience in the food industry.
As the teams prepared their meals, guests roamed the Eisenhower Hotel and Conference Center holding plates filled with goodies. Smells filled the room, and local vendors such as Liberty Mountain Resort and Conference Center, Mamma Ventura Restaurant and the Carriage House Inn offered onlookers a taste of their delectable foods.
Here's a breakdown of the competition:
Vickie Corbett: United Way of Adams County executive director
Juan Carlos Barbosa: Mamma Ventura Restaurant chef
Alex Hayes: Gettysburg Times editor
Joseph Holmes: Gettysburg Hotel executive chef
Randy Phiel: Chair Adams County Commissioner
Paul Karsteter: The Links at Gettysburg executive chef
Nina Redding: Penn State Extension District director
Ray Tappendorf: Inn at Herr Ridge executive chef
Appetizer: One pack of twisted black licorice, eight chicken livers, one bunch of Swiss Chard and a 16 ounce bottle of sherry vinegar
Entree: Ginger beer, four fresh oysters, two yams and two duck breasts
Dessert: One bunch of rhubarb, evaporated milk, eight fortune cookies and an 8-ounce box of quick cooking tapioca
Chef Jesse Reichert, of Cross Keys Village, and Subarna Sijapati, market manager and program director for Adams County Farmers Market Association, told us what they were looking for in the competitors' dishes.
Appearance: Must have a lot of color, clean presentation with no hand prints on the plate, creative
Taste: Looking for balance of flavors, different textures, freshness
Creativity: How the ingredients were used together to create the final product
The hardest part of the competition is the time element, Sijapati said. The pressure could get to the competitors and become noticeable in presentation if they're rushed.
Phiel felt pretty good about his first-round appetizer.
"We were well prepared, but you had to keep moving," he said. "We drizzled (the licorice creation) with three seconds to go."
In the opposite corner of the conference center, Redding and Chef Tappendorf were halfway done with their entree.
"This is very stressful," Redding said.
But the chef chimed in with a smile, "Everything's great."
Corbett and her partner, Barbosa, held a steady attention to detail as they finished their entree. She wiped the plates clean as Barbosa plated the meal.
Once finished, they let out a sigh of relief, threw their hands up and gave a shout to let everybody know they completed their creation before time was up.
As the teams presented the judges with their entree creations, emcee Rob Simon from Gettysburg Rocks asked Hayes how he was coming along.
"It's going good," Hayes said. "The last one was a nail-biter, but we made it."