Excitement is spicing up 10th Iron Chef Cocalico

By on February 24, 2016

 

Iron Chef Cocalico organizers decided to make this year’s event shine even brighter than ever.

Why?

“Because it’s the 10th anniversary of wildly popular event,” said Chris Dunn, Cocalico director of food services.

Champ

Reigning Iron Chef champ Chef Michael Harants from John Gross and Company.

“It’s special when you think we’ve been doing this thing for a decade and it just keeps getting better,” he said.

Last week at Cocalico High School, Dunn introduced two new contestants and talked about the lineup of who’ll host this year’s event, whose theme Salute to America honors various local military organizations.

Photo by Patrick Burns Chef Dave Kowalchick (left) from Dave's Diner in Adamstown, Chris Dunn (center), Cocalico director of food services. and Courtney Rittenour, from Courtyard Café on Main in Denver, are gearing up for the 10th Iron Chef Cocalico competition Sunday, March 6, at Cocalico High School from 1 to 5 p.m.

Photo by Patrick Burns
Chef Dave Kowalchick (left) from Dave’s Diner in Adamstown, Chris Dunn (center), Cocalico director of food services. and Courtney Rittenour, from Courtyard Café on Main in Denver, are gearing up for the 10th Iron Chef Cocalico competition Sunday, March 6, at Cocalico High School from 1 to 5 p.m.

The Ephrata Review had the opportunity to meet contestants Chef Dave Kowalchick from Dave’s Diner in Adamstown, and Courtney Rittenour from Courtyard Café on Main in Denver (see video interview at www.ephratareview.com.

 

Kowalchick, who said he’d like to someday open a pizza restaurant, had dreamed of being an Iron Chef contestant for years before finally making it.

“I’ve spent six years trying to get in the Iron Chef competition,” he said. “It was the chase I suppose that (makes it special).”

He likes to prepare “general foods” typically served at Dave’s Diner but favors grilling. One of his favorite eateries is Victor Emanuel’s in Reading and a secret ingredients he likes is fish sauce.

Rittenour who rejects olives in her food – as her least favorite ingredient – is a baker whose specialty is pastries. She is excited and loving the thrill of waiting for the event to begin.

“It’s such an awesome opportunity and honor to be invited, “ Rittenour said.

Still, she’s not regulated to the oven and likes “doing other things in the kitchen.”20160218_140954

“I was inspired by my mother and grandmother who are really big bakers; I think that’s where I started,” she said.

Both Rittenour and Kowalchick, who say they’re inspired by the chefs on the Food Channel, will compete with reigning Iron Chef champ Chef Michael Harants from John Gross and Company.

The event is Sunday, March 6, at the Cocalico High School from 1 to 5 p.m. This popular competition incorporates food, entertainment, and award-winning artwork to raise funds for educational opportunities for students and in the Cocalico School District.

This year, Chef Tom Gillin, host of Blue Ridge 11’s Cooking for Class, and special guest Chef John Moeller from State of Affairs Catering and former White House Chef “will bring a wealth of knowledge to this culinary extravaganza as the emcees of the competition,” Dunn said.

The Cocalico Education Foundation funds classroom projects, books for early childhood education, technology initiatives, and scholarships for graduating seniors.

“One of my greatest satisfactions as a chef is presenting a first-class meal and seeing the enjoyment that it brings to the diners and the goodwill and friendship that it promotes,” Moeller told organizers recently

The event will also showcase his cookbooks, White House memorabilia, and add great commentary to the day’s event.

Moeller is a member of an elite corps of chefs who’ve served in the White House preparing très soigné cuisine for presidents, first families, and their guests, including visiting heads of state.

He was a chef to three first families: President H.W. Bush, President William Jefferson Clinton, and President George W. Bush. Moeller joined the White House kitchen in 1992 as sous chef to Pierre Chambrin and later Walter Scheib, eventually acting as White House chef in 2005. Over the course of his career in the White House, he focused on creating unique and one-of-a-kind dishes that relied on fresh and flavorful ingredients.

As always, a highlight of the event is the food tasting fair that included more than twenty-five area restaurants and food purveyors who’ll provide samples of their house specialties.

A special raffle will be drawn for a chance to win a $500 Weber grill donated by Blue Ridge Communications, an appliance package valued at $150 from Walmart, and a $100 gift card to Weaver Markets.

Judges for the main event this year includes Mitch Arment of Giorgi Foods, Patricia Dean of Fiorentino’s, and Chef Louis Chabot Jr. of the Ephrata American Legion Cloister Post No. 429. An open judge’s seat for the Iron Chef challenge will be up for bid during the live auction.

Those who have always dreamed of being a culinary judge, now have the chance.

Patrick Burns is social media editor and staff writer for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455

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