Category Archives: Cooking contests

It’s Iron Chef time at the Old Town Farmers’ Market

Chef Paul Freimuth

This weekend is Labor Day weekend, meaning that it’s time for the annual Iron Chef Competition at the Old Town Farmers’ Market. The event, now in its 11th year, is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the market at First and Mosley.

The competition pits local chefs against each other, cooking live with a secret ingredient they learn about just as the competition begins.

This year’s contest has an interesting twist. Instead of chefs from several different restaurants competing, Harvest Kitchen/Bar’s executive chef Paul Freimuth will compete against his executive sous chef and two assistant sous chefs. The restaurant inside the Hyatt is known for its use of local ingredients. Freimuth was a competitor last year and worked his way deftly around the secret ingredient: long beans.

Celebrity judges Guy Bower and Joe Stumpe will choose a winner around 10 a.m. It’s free for spectators to watch the showdown.

The Old Town Farmers Market is open from 7 a.m. to noon.

It’s Hatch green chile time all over town

***Update: Turns out that the Flying Stove guys won’t be able to make it on Saturday. They’re working on a new menu.

Hatch green chiles, the New Mexico pepper admired all over the country for their meaty perfection and fabulous flavor, are harvested each year in August — and then they start trickling into Wichita

Not only is Johnson’s Garden Centers having its annual Chile Fest at all of its stores Friday through Sunday, but Freddy’s Frozen Custard also has just put a limited-time Hatch green chile steakburger on its menu.

The annual chile fest is on from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday at all three local Johnson’s stores. During that time, customers can buy the freshly roasted chiles for $7.99 a bag and also can sample dishes made by Johnson’s employees using the peppers.

Also on Saturday, the Johnson’s store at 2707 W. 13th will have an event called the Food Truck Iron ChileHead Cookoff, in which several food truckers compete to make the best dish using Hatch chiles. I get to be a judge and am not the least bit sorry about that. I’ll have a full story about Johnson’s Hatch obsession in Friday’s Go! section.

Freddy’s new steakburger, now available at Freddy’s all over town, is garnished with grilled onions, cheese, mustard and Hatch peppers. Diners also can request the chiles put on top of their hot dogs.  The chile items, along with a new S’mores concrete, are available on a limited-time basis.

Anyone know of any other local Hatch invasions?

Festival of Breads is coming back

Famous baker Marjorie Johnson was a highlight of the Festival of Breads two summers ago in Wichita.

I covered the Festival of Breads when it filled the Airport Hilton with the aroma of yeasty goodness back in the summer of 2009, and it was a fun event. I learned a lot. (Including the fact that I wasn’t getting my water warm enough to dissolve my yeast. It’s changed my baking life!)

The event will be back in Wichita later this month. It’s put on by King Arthur Flour and Fleishmann’s Yeast and is scheduled for June 23 though 25 at the Airport Hilton. The highlight of the event is a bake-off between eight top home bakers from around the country.

One of the highlights two years ago was the inclusion of Marjorie Johnson, a home cook from Minnesota who had regularly been featured on “The Tonight Show.” She didn’t make the finals this year, but the recipes of this year’s finalists look pretty amazing. (Whole wheat jalapeno cheddar hamburger buns, anyone?)

The big day for local baking enthusiasts is Saturday, June 25, when the public is invited to watch the contestants in action, sample bread and watch other cooking demonstrations. If I recall correctly, I scored a few packets of free yeast back in 2009, too.

To learn more about the festival, visit the official website.

A delicious way to build morale

I’ve been asked several times to judge employee cooking contests. Earlier this year, I went helped Davis Moore judge an employee chili cookoff for charity. And today, my friend Jill Laffoon, marketing manager at the Kansas Masonic Home, asked me to come help judge an employee hummus contest.

Well, you know me. Anything for a friend.

Although I now have garlic breath to spare, I was amazed by the creativity the Masonic home kitchen staff displayed.

All the entries were good and ranged from red peppery to bursting with tahini flavor. Jill and I ultimately awarded first prize to the hummus prepared by Aaron Wurtz, director of dining services. It was citrusy and well balanced, even if it wasn’t the most beautiful of the entries.

I’m thinking about proposing some sort of cookoff throwdown here at the Eagle.

But I’m thinking something sweeter, like Chocolate chip cookies or apple pie or cupcakes.

Who’s in?