Pine Run residents square off in ‘Iron Chef’ competition
September 19, 2013
By Michael Macagnone, Staff Writer
With a drop of a red cover hiding the secret ingredient, the culinary race was on.
Two teams of Pine Run Retirement Community employees and residents put their skills to the test in a spin on the Iron Chef competition Wednesday afternoon in Doylestown Township over bragging rights, a spot on the menu and a gold-plated trophy frying pan.
Creativity, garlic and butter abounded during the hour the chefs took to prepare their three dishes using the secret ingredient: mushrooms. They chose between seven varieties in creating their dishes, and other ingredients such as chicken, potatoes, spinach and apples.
Resident Laura Rodel headed a team with Chris Garges and Bill Montanari. They faced off against a team headed by Pine Run resident Patricia Fey, Ceil Krajewski and Matt Meyers.
Joe Baj, the senior director for dining services, said they chose chefs and staff they thought would engage each other, as evidenced by the trash talk between Krajewski and Garges before the competition. He said the whole event, along with the back and forth between the chefs, came together well.
“They created some great dishes, some great flavors. These guys can cook,” he said.
Matt Doman, the chef who oversaw the competition, said he chose mushrooms because of their flexibility and local ties. Pennsylvania, he said is the “mushroom capital of the world” and all of the mushrooms in the competition came from farms in Kennett Square, Chester County.
Team Rodel presented its dishes first, with a bit more experimentation with their ingredients. They started with stuffed portabella mushrooms with shrimp, black beans and a chili cream sauce and moved on to chicken in a garlic wine and mushroom sauce and carrots.
The judges, including Cathleen Stewart, the executive director for Pine Run, found a surprise with Rodel’s dessert: apple fritters with straw mushrooms and a maple cream sauce.
“I was not sure about having the mushrooms with the apple, but it was really, really good,” Stewart said.
After the apple fritters, Team Fey presented its dishes, starting out with a strawberry and spinach salad, and sautéed chicken and mushrooms with spinach and a horseradish cream sauce.
Team Rodel’s chances took a turn for the worse, though, when judge Barbara Dumas, the administrator for Lakeview, and the others tasted Fey’s mushroom bisque.
“This is the best soup I have ever had,” Dumas said.
Baj said the voting was tight, but Fey’s team took the day. Two judges went for Fey, one for Rodel and one split between the two.
After the announcement, Meyers and Krajewski posed with Fey and their new, gold-plated frying pans, which were inscribed with the words “Pine Run Iron Chef 2013.”
“(The pan is) not my style but I’ll take it,” Fey joked.
Baj said the event had been in the works for months, and the managers at Pine Run always looked for more ideas. Dumas had another one while the chefs worked to prepare the meals.
“I’m just wondering, is ‘Dancing with the Stars’ next?”