Chefs throw down for supremacy

Published 1:02 pm Monday, March 12, 2012

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After the desserts and forks had settled, only one team could emerge victorious at the Hormel Historic Home’s “Foodie Throwdown: Cuisines of the World” Saturday night. Though the “South of the Border” team of Jane Arhart and Kathy Fritz walked away as the voters’ choice, the HHH was the real winner as about 150 people attended.

“It was a smashing success,” said Laura Helle, HHH Executive Director. “We were really happy with it.”

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Despite the Austin Packers Boys Basketball game being the hot ticket in town, Helle said the event’s participation was above her expectations.

“Austin is such a food town, and we knew this would be good,” she said.

The idea began about six months ago when the HHH board started brainstorming for new events, settling on the idea of a food or cooking function. Food Network TV shows like “Chopped,” “Top Star” and “Iron Chef” have piqued people’s interest in the food world, and Austin is no exception.

The board turned to Howie Crawford, an Austin chef who has lived in the community for 29 years, and he helped build on the competition aspect. The competition was fierce, as local chefs and cooking experts tried their hands at a variety of foods.

Dr. Gareth Hataye and his daughters, Selena and Sydney, served chicken wings and a Korean beansprout salad, along with California rolls and wasabi as the Asian Fusion team. Hataye’s daughters came home from college for the weekend to spend all day cooking and prepping, which Selena says is pretty common at home whenever there’s a family gathering.

“It feels great,” Selena said. “It’s for a good cause, it’s a lot of fun and people get to eat good food.”

Gareth Hataye said he got the inspiration for his meal since his daughters love the chicken wings he makes, and they even chose it for their high school graduation party meal.

“I tried to have it catered but they said ‘Dad, you’ve got to do the chicken wings,’” he said with a smile.

There were plenty of people trying food throughout the night, sampling small dishes from each station, which included Mediterranean, Moroccan, Italian, Tex-Mex and Asian fusion-style treats.

“People seem really excited to try something new,” said Jodi Vortherms.

The event’s success already has the HHH board thinking about another “Foodie Throwdown,” which may include a secret ingredient or another theme.

“We’re definitely doing another ‘Foodie Throwdown,’” Helle said.