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?

Culinary students sweep Cocktails & Cookies

Tiffani Price, the coordinator of the Butler Community College Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, and Gregory Cole, an instructor

I was a judge at Friday night’s Cocktails & Cookies event, a fundraiser for the Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland that asked local chefs to turn Girl Scout cookies into something even more fabulous.

They did. It was hard to choose a winner from all the peanut buttery, coconut-y, chocolate-y, mint-y goodness on the tables at the Wichita Scottish Rite Center. Places such as Cero’s, Cocoa Dolce, Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Doo Dah Diner made items ranging from cake pops to French macaroons to ice cream sandwiches. My co-judges Tanya Tandoc, Guy Bower and I were sugared to the point of delirium by the time we were finished sampling everything.

The amazing peanut buttery winner

The big winner of the evening was the brand new Butler Community College Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts. Students and staff from the program, which launched this fall, won not only the judges’ choice category but also the peoples’ choice.

They made a perfect layered dessert that utilized three Girl Scout cookie varieties: Thanks-A-Lots, Caramel deLites and Peanut Butter Patties.

Congrats to the winners. Also, a little bit of trivia: Gregory Cole, the enthusiastic instructor who accompanied the students to the competition, is the founder of Little Bits cookie company.

Question of the week: Wichita’s best burger?

Mmmmm. Freddy’s Steakburger. My favorite.

Mooyah, which opened on Monday, is the latest of several burger chains that have opened in Wichita over the past several years. Some have made it (Five Guys) and some have not (Smashburger.)

This week’s question: What’s your favorite burger served in Wichita?

People always ask me this question when I’m around town giving talks about restaurants, and my answer is always Freddy’s Frozen Custard steakburgers. I just love the super-flat, crispy on the edges, melty cheese goodness of those burgers.

What about you?

Deli Day is on the way

Freddy’s Frozen Custard’s Scott Redler, right, and his pal Lou Medvene man the meat line at last year’s Deli Day.

One of my favorite dining events of the year is just a little more than a week away.

Deli Day, an annual celebration of Jewish cuisine, is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11, at Congregation Emanu-El, 7011 E. Central.

Last year was my first time visiting the fundraiser dinner, and it was as fun as it was delicious. I met several nice people and feasted on corned beef, matzo ball soup and homemade brisket, prepared using Freddy’s Frozen Custard founder Scott Redler’s secret recipe.

For $14, diners can either eat-in or carry-out either a brisket dinner or corned beef sandwich meal with latkes, strudel and more. Homemade baked goods, such as rugelach and mandelbrot, also will be for sale.

For more information, call 316-684-5148.

New culinary program having a sweet opening

Warren Brown

Until recently, inspiring professional chefs who wanted to study close to home had to go to Johnson County Community College’s culinary arts program.

But as of this fall, there’s one in Wichita, too. Butler Community College recently added a Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts. The program results in an associates degree, and classes are held in the recently rennovated Boston Rec Center at 6655 E. Zimmerly in Wichita.

On Tuesday, those interested can tour the building during an open house and also can see a baking demonstration by lawyer-turne-dbaker Warren Brown, the founder of CakeLove and onetime host of the Food Network show “Sugar Rush.”

The open house is from 2 to 4 p.m. with a ribbon cutting at 2:30 p.m. and the demonstration following.

The new culinary arts program is lead by executive chef John Michael, a wine expert and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. The school has a board of advisers that includes several local chefs and foodies, including Tanya Tandoc of Tanya’s Soup Kitchen, Freddy’s Frozen Custard owner Scott Redler, Beth Tully of Cocoa Dolce and Scott Nicholson, the general manager of the new Fresh Market.

Question of the week: Best restaurant ice?

I love Sonic ice so much, I buy it by the bag in the summer. This Sonic employee thought I was crazy when I asked to snap his picture.

I love ice. Especially ice that chews well. Sometimes, a restaurant has ice with such a perfect texture, I’ll go just for the ice.

I know I’m not the only one. There’s a whole Facebook page dedicated to “liking” Sonic ice. (Which I do. And which I have.)

Even more than Sonic ice, I love the ice at Taco Pronto, which is so very crushed, it’s the texture of a sno cone, which pairs perfectly with a diet coke. Or even with water.

QuikTrip’s crushed ice is nice, too, and I always fill my cup allllllllllllllllll the way to the top. And Freddy’s Frozen Custard recently announced that it had swapped out its old ice for chewin’ ice.

Here at The Wichita Eagle, our ice machine died several months ago. A large number of employees still bemoan this fact daily. At the moment, I’m chomping away on a cup of ice from my lunch at When Pigs Fly, and I’m pretty sure it’s driving my neighbor Katie insane.

My question this week is directed at my follow ice lovers. Which Wichita restaurant’s ice is best? What makes it so good?

Let me know in the comments section below.

Where to get your Lenten fish

Newport Grill in Bradley Fair

Even though Wichita is no where near an ocean, we still have some decent fish and seafood in town. We even have several restaurant’s whose No. 1 focus is fish.

Recently, I’ve heard from several Lenten observers who are asking for alternatives to Long John Silver’s. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Long John Silver’s, home of the fabulous hushpuppy.)

Here’s a list of ideas.

FINE FISH DINING: Wichita has two finer restaurants whose focus is fish: The upscale Newport Grill at 1900 N. Rock Road and the popular chain Bonefish Grill at 10250 E. 13th St. There’s also always Red Lobster, the reliable chain that has stores at 555 S. West St. and 333 S. Towne East Mall Drive:

FAST AND FRIED: Fish fans also can choose from less fancy fish places, many of which have a loyal local following. Fast fried fish is available at In And Out Fried Chicken & Fish at  447 N. St. Francis and Wichita Fish Company, 1601 W. Douglas, and Pirate Pete’s Seafood Restaurant, 1648 S. Rock Road.

SUSHI SPOTS: Wichita’s list of great sushi places keeps growing. Among the spots to consider sampling during Lent: Kanai at 12111 W. Maple, Hana Cafe at 325 N. Mead, Sumo at 11233 E. 13th St. and Wasabi, which has locations at 912 E. Douglas Ave. and 3242 N. Rock Road.

ALSO: River City Brewing Co. at 150 N. Mosley offers some of Wichita’s most popular fish and chips. Freddy’s Frozen Custard always offers fried fish sandwiches and fish and chips during Lent. And When Pigs Fly Bar-B-Que at 7011 W. Central will offer fish specials such as lemon pepper smoked salmon and BBQ tilapia tacos on Wednesdays and Fridays through April 6. And The Seafood Shop at 6470 E. Central Avenue sells not only fish and seafood to be cooked at home but also carryout fish lunches.

Nine restaurants shared recipes for “official” Wichita cookbook

If you’ve lived in Wichita for very long, you’ve either sampled or cooked a recipe from the Junior League’s popular and well-circulated 1995 cookbook, “Women of Great Taste. It has a picture of the Mona Lisa spearing a tomato with a fork on the cover and many very good recipes inside.

Now, the Junior League has a new cookbook out. It’s called “Pinches & Dashes: Recipes & Life Measures” and includes recipes for everything from special-occasion dinners to fast weeknight meals.

The formerly most popular Wichita cookbook

It also includes recipes provided by nine local restaurants: Caffe Moderne, Chester’s Chophouse, Freddy’s Frozen Custard, Newport Grill, Luca Italian Kitchen, River City Brewery, Sabor, Watermark Books & Café and YaYa’s EuroBistro.

The book is $28.95 and is available at places such as Watermark Books and The Plaid Giraffe or online at Proceeds will go toward organizations that combat child abuse.

And get this — Mayor Carl Brewer has named the book the official cookbook of Wichita. This is a relief to me because I have always wondered what our city’s official cookbook was.

Sweet dreams of Deli Day

Freddy's Scott Redler, right, and his pal Lou Medvene man the meat line at Sunday's Deli Day.

I love church food in nearly any form, whether it be a potluck feast or a well-oiled fundraiser.

Yesterday, I persuaded my friend Jaime to accompany me to one of Wichita’s longest running church food fundraisers. (I can’t believe I failed to include it when I wrote this story. DOH!)

It was Deli Day at at Congregation Emanu-El, 7011 E. Central, and church members were serving up a spread of New York City deli dishes, including matzo ball soup and corned beef sandwiches. I’ve loved this food every since Jaime first introduced me to it when we went to New York City years ago. She grew up eating it and makes a mean matzo ball soup.

We ran into Scott Redler at the event. He’s an owner of the Freddy’s Frozen Custard chain and has run the kitchen at Deli Day for years. The brisket served at Deli Day was made using his mother’s recipe, which I feverishly jotted down mentally as he recited it and plan to cook as soon as I can get myself to the meat department.

Note to local entrepreneurs: Could someone PLEASE open a real New York Deli in these parts? I can guarantee you at least two regular customers.

Here are a few more pictures from Deli Day.

Deli Day’s fabulous corned beef sandwich, served with a side of potato salad and Israeli tomato and cucumber salad.

My deli food mentor Jaime Green, who's also a photographer at the Eagle. Here, she waits for her matzo ball soup to cool off while we salivate over the brisket platter.

Question of the week: Favorite fall treat?

Freddy's pumpkin pie concrete.

Coffee shops, ice cream stores and restaurants have been rolling out all their pumpkiny, nutmeggy fall-flavored treats over the past few weeks. I recently received a torturous e-mail from Freddy’s Frozen Custard touting the return of its pumpkin pie concrete, a dangerous combination of frozen custard and chopped up pumpkin pie, crust and all.

What’s your favorite seasonal fall treat offered locally? Describe what it is and where to get it.