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Fresh Vegetables Take the Gold at This Year’s Cooking Contest!

August 13, 2011

My goodness, what a day!

We had our 6th Annual Farm Field Day and so many events I couldn’t keep track! We started with our Cooking Contest at 11am which was widely-attended and proved to be quite a success! Customers brought in their best recipes and waited nervously while the judges sampled their dishes.

Robert (Head Chef at Spiga Restaurant), Vanessa (Head Chef at Center Cafe), and Doug Motchok (last year’s contest winner) were our judges – their eyeballs seemed to widen with every new entry placed on the table. What started looking like a contest that would be easy to judge quickly became more difficult as sixteen separate dishes were entered! Dishes ranged from desserts to entrees, salads, soups – EVERYTHING and anything was accepted.

Judges were told to rate the dishes on a scale of 1-10, ten being the best. They could have multiple tens within the group, however. They also were asked to write comments on the use of homegrown produce, the overall taste, and the presentation – any and all comments were accepted.

There was one thing that stood out to me this year moreso than in years prior, and that was PRESENTATION! All of the dishes that were presented at the contest were so beautiful – they had fancy plates, dishtowels, baskets – all sorts of creative accents to the dish!

From sixteen hopeful entries, one dish soared above its competition to receive the coveted title of FIRST PLACE! Laurie Cochran’s dish was a refreshing Peach, Tomato, Corn and Arugula Salad with Sweet Red Onions. Her creation received a whopping score of 29 out of 30 points! Our judges couldn’t say enough about this dish! First-timer judge Doug commented “What a summer salad!”. Robert from Spiga said it was “excellent! I want more!” and Vanessa from Center Cafe left a quote saying “simplicity marks a development not a decline in the art of cooking”.

It was true – this simple, tasty salad employed all SORTS of homegrown produce to bring it to the top of the pile. Winner Laurie Cochran went home with three gift cards: $125 from Center Cafe, $50 from Spiga and $40 from Volante Farms! A total of $215 in local gift cards! Along with bragging rights that come with her big win, she will also be offered a coveted seat on the judge’s panel next year!

Coming in second place with an impressive score of 25 out of 30 points was Paul Gardener with his Gilled Corn and Pepper Aioli. The judges, again, commented on the simple tastiness of his dish. Doug Motchock stated that he thought it was a “great way to do the corn – like the grill aspect!”. Vanessa added that his dish had a “nice addition to the sweetness of corn”. And Robert kept it simple and sweet by simply stating “I love corn!”

Paul went home with three gift cards as well: $75 from Center Cafe, $50 from Spiga, and $20 from Volante Farms! His total winnings added up to $145 in local gift cards!

Since I simply can’t put the deliciousness (is that a word?) of these dishes into words, see the gallery below for a look at these two salivatingly-beautiful winning recipes!

Now those of  you who may have missed your opportunity this time, don’t fret! Our Apple Pie Baking Contest is going to be held sometime in October (details to follow) so you’ll have another chance! Join our email club to remain in the loop for upcoming events by sending an email to info@volantefarms.com!

Throughout the day, we had three very full Field Tours! Steve (who led two of them) was impressed with the number of gardening-related questions asked by the participants. He said “I think a lot more people are gardening, because there was a lot of interest in how we grow what we grow”. Kids and adults alike enjoyed strolling through our field and learning about our methods of growing. We’re happy to offer you these inside looks at what we do on a daily basis – and plus, it gives you a better idea of where your food is really coming from!

As you can see from the pictures above, we had Crescent Ridge Ice Cream sampling going on all day. We were scooping Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry for our sweet tooth customers. It got RAVE reviews (yum!) and we’re thrilled to announce that we’ll be serving Crescent Ridge ice cream next year in our new farmstand!

As if that wasn’t enough, VitaCoco and T’ART stopped by for some sampling throughout the afternoon! We are so grateful to them for giving us a taste of their delicious products!

We spent a good chunk of the day talking about the transition we’re about to go through – on Tuesday the 16th we’ll be relocating to Bay 2 of the Greenhouse and running farmstand operations out of that location. We paid homage to our current farmstand with many pictures of farmstands that came before this one, as well as the future stand. Hopefully you had a chance to check out our little historical timeline. If not, we’ll be keeping it up for the next few days. It will be under the tent, so check it out!

Overall a spectacular day here at the farm… even just thinking about everything we had going on today makes me a little tired! All the preparation was well worth it and we hope you join us again in the future for similar events!

Speaking of events… Vanessa from Center Cafe will be here for her Cooking Demo next weekend, Saturday August 20th at 11am. Be sure to check it out – it’s usually an entertaining and delicious demonstration!

That’s all I have from down at the farm… the rest of the recipes will be up shortly after our big move into the greenhouse!

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