In the North Country nine chefs are getting ready to compete in the finale of the second annual North Country Chef’s Challenge, an effort to determine who can best match culinary expertise with local food.
The goal is to show people in other parts of the state that North Country dining is worth a trip north of the notches.
The competition began last month at Franconia’s Horse & Hound Inn and ends November 3rd with nine chefs in the final round at the Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa in Whitefield.
“They are using 100 percent local ingredients. They are each cooking a soup and they are each cooking an appetizer,” says Katelynn Krumpermann, the marketing director for the Littleton Co-op which sponsored the Franconia event.
The chefs are allowed to pick their ingredients and their dishes and four of them are set up on a patio.
The judging is by three chefs from the White Mountain chapter of the American Culinary Federation.
“Really what you are looking for is flavor and taste and how well people are utilizing their ingredients. How well their dishes are put together,” says Matthew Holland, the executive chef at the Mountain Club on Loon in Lincoln.
In one corner of the patio Travis Giles, the culinary instructor at the White Mountains Community College, is finishing up his dishes.
“I actually made a butternut squash soup with a local maple syrup, Old Man Maple Syrup, cream Chantilly with roasted papitas for my soup,” he says.
Meanwhile those who bought the $25 tickets are quizzing the chefs, sniffing good smells and waiting for samples.
Then, it gets serious and the three chefs from the culinary federation – and an apprentice – are seated at a table and the dishes are arriving, taste buds are tasting and decisions being made. The competition in Franconia was followed by events in Colebrook and Gorham.
Now nine finalists will compete for the overall win. They are:
* Michael Beers, Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa.
* Steve Learned, Abbey Group
* Matt Houghton, Appalachian Mountain Club
* Romeo Balardo, Bailiwicks.
* Travis Giles, White Mountains Community College
* Jonathan Saiff, Omni Mount Washington Resort
* Josh Riach, Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa
* Lisa Raymond, Margarita Grill
* Tim Pomerleau, White Mountain Cider Company
The event is sponsored by the North Country Farmers’ Co-op and the money raised from the $30 tickets will help buy a new truck.