By MyFM's Ray Auger - As a radio broadcaster most of my career highlights consist of small moments. The annual ones are the best. The fact that something that happened was so good or fun that it becomes in demand on a consistent basis is comforting and makes the job all the more pleasurable. One of those annual events that I truly look forward to each year is Atria Draper Place’s Chef Showdown. Atria Senior Living Communities around the country hold this event on the same day each year pitting in-house chefs against community chefs in a friendly competition involving dishes with one universal ingredient.
This is where it can get scary for me. This is my, I believe, third year judging the showdown with other community figures. Now, I am pretty good about expanding my culinary horizons, especially the older I get, but I do prefer to be in control of how and when I get all experimental. It took me 30 years to take a chance on sushi. But I got there eventually and I love it. Anyway, long story short, the thought of all eyes on me as I take bite after bite of something that may not necessarily meet my edible preferences is jarring to say the least. But it’s a great exercise in palate-expansion so I happily accept the honor each year.
This year’s secret ingredient was tomato…uh oh. Grin and bear it man! And that’s what I did… and it was delicious… as it always is. Not sure why I let myself suffer through this anxiety when I know everything’s gonna be alright in the end.
The two chefs in the spotlight this year were Atria Draper’s own Chef Jess L’Heureux and Chef Josh Haffner from Gallifford’s Restaurant and Tavern at Southwick's Zoo in Mendon. Both brought unique spins to their offerings. Jess with her Heirloom Tomato Tart (not a pizza) and Josh with his Eggplant Napoleon Caprice (which can be found on Galliford’s special board from time to time). Both absolutely delicious… I gave them both even high marks... I’m a horrible judge.
Atria residents, friends, family and local press were treated to explanations of the culinary concoctions from the chefs themselves and then enjoyed a tasting of the dishes. Tomato fans were on site waving posters with sayings like “I love you from my head to-ma-toes” and “After you are done with the tomatoes can we ketchup?”. Fun had by all!
In the end, after tallying up the scores from the five judges, Jess took home the Big Tomato trophy. Kudos to Atria Draper Place for another fun and exciting Chef Showdown. Fingers crossed for next year’s secret ingredient being buffalo chicken tenders.
See all the photos HERE.