A taste for every palate

Second Foodie Throwdown features dishes from around the country

Wintry weather couldn’t stop all the local food-lovers from getting to the second annual Foodie Throwdown Saturday night in Austin.

The event was such a success last year that the Hormel Historic Home staff and board of trustees decided to do it again. Executive Director Holly Johnson said last year the event raised $3,500. This year she was hoping to raise the same amount and plans to donate some of the funds to the Salvation Army.

“As a nonprofit we do need those funds ourselves but being part of the Hormel family we try to support the community,” Johnson said.

This year’s event started with a social hour at 6 p.m. with entertainment by Peter Jacobs, followed by tasting of all the dishes at 7 p.m. Then everyone was able to take one token and vote for which team they liked best. Chefs Kristine Merten and Elizabeth Diser, representing Hy-Vee, took the top honors.

Their dishes were a Kulua pork purse, which was smoked pork butt with mango and chives accompanied by mango and Thai chili sauce, and a homemade salted caramel ice cream, which was served in a tuile cup with toasted coconut and cashew nuts and garnished with tie-dyed spun sugar.

“The chefs are all amazing,” Johnson said.

The theme of the Throwdown was Taste of America, and each team was assigned a different region of the United States to represent. The winning team had to create a taste of California and Hawaii. The other regions were New England, represented by Neal Hull of Hormel Foods Corp., the deep South, represented by Gareth Hataye and Alan Rasell of Innovision, the Midwest plains, represented by Brad Evans, and the Pacific Northwest and the Southwest and Rocky Mountains, represented by Diane Sherman and Ilene Carroll.

Chefs Mark Beland and Glenda Hillman, representing Mayo Clinic Health System, were assigned the Pacific Northwest region. They made a salt-cured salmon with spruce tip glaze and a wild mushroom risotto.

“We were asked to participate and it’s a good opportunity to get out in the community and show our support,” Beland said. “We also want to show people that hospital food isn’t just goop on a tray with Jello.”

Beland said he started curing his salmon on Monday, and the rest of the prep work was done at the Austin medical center this week. It was the first time medical center was represented at the “Foodie Throwdown,” and there were other first-timers, as well. Austin residents Jan and Paul Swan came to taste all the food after hearing about last year’s event. They described themselves as foodies and said they were looking forward to tasting everything.

“It’s always interesting to see what other people do,” Jan said.

Randy Kramer, who is on the Hormel Historic Home’s board of trustees, also said that it’s fun to see what local chefs create. He likes that the event is unlike others held in the area.

“It’s always nice to see the home get used, too,” Kramer said. “It’s just a great night to try great food.”

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