I was elbow deep in fungi this past weekend…the tasty mushroom kind of fungi that is, at the Kennett Square, PA Mushroom Festival! I had the honor of being a finalist at the Mushroom Appetizer Cook Off! This is a great event at a huge festival that is always held the weekend after Labor Day. In the spring they put out the call for original mushroom recipes (This year they switched from soup recipes to appetizer recipes.) The recipes are tested and voted upon by the cook off committee and you get the call in late August if your recipe was chosen to be one of 6 finalists. This was my fourth time competing and I was excited to see familiar faces and meet some new friends!
I developed a recipe for mushroom nachos – “Kennett Square Ultimate Mushroom, Bacon & Shallot Nachos.” I was thrilled to find out that two amazing friends had also gotten the call to be finalists. Laurie Lufkin, from Essex, Massachusetts would be making her “Abbondanza Mushroom and Sausage Bites” and Nancy MacKenzie of Newtown Square would be making her “Grilled Crimini Reuben Sliders.” Food, fun and friends are what cook offs are all about!
We had an hour to prepare our dishes. Mine took every last second of that time and I was sweating it out right to the end! I probably should have developed a more simple recipe – it seemed so easy to make at home, but at a cook off there are a lot of variables out of your control. There are power supply glitches. Windy weather can affect the portable propane burners. Your nerves can get the better of you and it’s easy to drop, spill, burn and cut. Also, there is the pressure of spectators watching and asking questions while you’re cooking. All part of the challenge which can get your adrenaline going!
The recipes were tasted and judged by an experienced panel and Nancy’s sliders took first place! It was her first cook off and I was so happy for her! My nachos came in second – which was great considering I came close to not finishing! Once all our gear was packed away, we set off to enjoy the festival. Our first stop was to the Woodside Farm Creamery truck for the best pumpkin ice cream! Nothing like a cool creamy treat after sweating it out at the cook off!
“We have how much time left?” Whew, finished! That giant toaster oven sure didn’t broil like my home oven. Should have brought a kitchen torch for back up! Is it time to taste one of those beers yet?? tasting – judging – tasting – judging – sip of beer Congratulations Nancy on your first place win! Bonus points for the mushroom apron and matching headband!! First Place: Grilled Crimini Reuben Sliders Can we go now Mom?? Pleeeeeease! Cooking Friends: Lisa Keys, Brett Youmans, Laurie Lufkin Our traditional post cook off ice cream lunch!! YUM!
Previous Winning Recipes:
On the left, “Stuffed Mushroom Florentine Soup” First Place, 2010 Kennett Square Mushroom Soup Cook Off
On the right, “Shiitake, Ginger & Pork Pot Sticker Soup” First Place, 2012 Kennett Square Mushroom Soup Cook Off
Kennett Square Ultimate Mushroom, Bacon and Shallot Nachos: