Young chefs go head to head in cook off

Published 5:23 pm Thursday, August 20, 2009

The corn had been shucked, the peaches had been sliced, the bell pepper deseeded by hand — yet the question remained: how do you successfully mash an avocado?

The meat fork didn’t work. The can opener was unwieldy. At last, Troop 532 resorted to their trusty whisk, and the guacamole was ready to top the tortilla soup that bubbled on the burner.

At the Iron Chef Cookoff, held in conjunction with Helena Market Days, Scout Troops 532 and 2, each presented a main dish and dessert to the judges panel.

Clifton and Maureen Holt of Savannah Grille, Jason Roland of Something Different Catering, Birmingham News food writer Bob Carlton and Etricia Williams of 122 Tree Lane, chose Troop 2 as the winner, presenting them with the official Emeril Iron Skillet Trophy.

Thomas Ward and Connor Romanowski led Troop 2’s presentation to the judges in line-up formation.

Troop 2’s main dish was a stirfry of sausage, bacon (the required mystery meat donated by Whole Foods) and vegetables purchased from market vendors.

“What cuisine would you say influenced your stirfry?” asked Maureen Holt.

“I would say it is a combination of Cajun and Asian — maybe call it Casian,” said Trenton Carpenter.

This remark met with great hilarity and agreement that indeed, this was an apt new label. Troop 2 also received kudos for using a splash of Sprite in their peach cobbler as an innovative way to add lemony sweetness.

After Troop 532’s presentation, judge Clif Holt asked “who made this peach cobbler?”

Dominic Simonetti’s hand went up.

“Ah, well, even though your team lost a few points because the walnuts were burned, I definitely preferred your version,” Holt told the obviously pleased Simonetti. “When you get ready for your first restaurant job, give me a call.”

Simonetti, Senior Patrol Leader of Troop 532, personally prepared the ingredients for the peach cobbler that was cooked in an aluminum foil-lined Dutch oven over and under hot coals. Judges also complimented Troop 2’s tortilla soup.

“Ninety percent of these boys will be lifelong campers and hikers,” said Scout Troop Program Leader Larry Crawley, a 1977 Eagle Scout.

And, we must assume, helpful with cooking chores and well-fed to boot.