Behind the Scenes at Salsa Contest

Many thanks to everyone who participated in the 2008 Salsa Contest, including the wonderful volunteers who helped with set-up, tear-down and tasting. Thanks to Bob Flynn for podcasting, and CATS for videotaping the event. You can request the program on local cable television whenever you’ve got the not-enough-salsa-goin’-down blues.

Check out the winning recipes.

Tad Delay is chef at the Limestone Grille, open since 1999 on East Covenanter Drive. Chef Tad has a life-long love of seasonings. His new line of BBQ sauces, dry rubs and hot sauces are available at the Butcher’s Block, Bloomingfoods East and West, the Farmer’s Market and The Limestone Grille. Cooked

Jeff Finch owns Finch’s Brasserie, just across from the IU Sample Gates on Kirkwood Avenue. Formerly Trulli Flatbread, Finch’s provides upscale dining with an extensive menu and wine and beer selection. The most prominent feature of the restaurant is a huge wood-fired oven, right in the middle, where some menu items benefit from wood-fired roasting. The food has a decidedly Mediterranean flavor. Specialty

Brooke Gentile is executive director of Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard. Since 2001 Brooke has been working to build community food security wherever she has lived: from Italy and Spain to South Brooklyn, to Northern California and finally to Bloomington, IN. For the past 2.5 years she has worked at Mother Hubbard's Cupboard, a Bloomington community food pantry. She is passionate about her home garden and preserving food, and has a new interest in making cheese. Specialty

Lynn Schwartzberg, a food writer for the Herald-Times, graduating from IU with a degree in History of Arts. She writes the culinary columns “Food Fare” and “On the Menu” for the HT, and volunteers for WTIU, the Lotus Festival, and the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. Lynn is a common council member of the Bloomington Community Arts Commission. Besides judging the Salsa Contest, she has been a judge for Breadfest. Lynn is allergic to prickly pear cactus. Raw

Alan Simmerman is the prepared foods manager of the Near West Side Bloomingfoods. Alan and his wife, Emily, are the proud parents of a new daughter, Delaney Sue. Alan was the winner of both the People’s Choice and the 1st Place Golden Spatula in the Chef Challenge 2008, Friday August 29th, benefiting Community Kitchen. Raw

Gracia Valliant has lived, worked and traveled extensively in Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Most recently, she helped lead a cultural exchange project with 12 Bloomington students and 6 chaperones on a trip to San Juan la Laguna, Guatemala, where the students painted a mural with young people from the local public school. She is now working to bring those students to Bloomington to paint a mural here. Specialty

Susan Welsand, áká ‘the Chili Woman’ offers Hoosierganic chiles grown naturally, sustainably, cleanly, and without chemicals. She specializes in non-hybrid heirloom chile pepper bedding plants, but also grows sweet pepper, tomato and tomatillo bedding plants. Susan ships plants nationwide in the spring and sells container plants at her greenhouse until end of October. This year she has over 1400 chile varieties, and she continues to add to her seed bank every year. She wants to thank everyone who has swapped chile seed with her, and says “Let’s keep our genetic diversity alive!” Raw

Randy White is artistic director of Cardinal Stage Company, where he has directed Oliver!, Our Town, A Year with Frog and Toad, and the recent Diary of Anne Frank, among other productions. He has directed many shows in New York and at regional theaters, and has directed and/or taught at Yale, Penn, and IU. Randy also assisted on the New York production of The Lion King. Randy lives in Bloomington with his wife, Ellen McKay, who teaches Shakespeare at IU, and his one-year old son, Graeme. This is his first performance as a Salsa Contest judge. Cooked

Charlotte Zeitlow has been actively cooking for over fifty years and eating for more than that, all over the world. In 1973 she co-founded Goods, Inc. (now Goods for Cooks, owned by Andrew Appel) where she presented numerous demonstrations and cooking classes. In 2002 she founded MiddleWay Food Works, a catering service for childcare and senior nutrition programs; an upscale catering venture; and a business and training opportunity for women who have been victims of domestic violence. Charlotte is the Program Director for “Growing a Healthy Community,” a Community Food Project funded by the USDA aimed at creating a local food system that includes an incubator kitchen for local food artisans and entrepreneurs. Cooked

Gregg ‘Rags’ Rago is managing partner and chef of Nick’s English Hut, a Bloomington tradition on Kirkwood for the past 81 years. He has offered popular guacamole- and salsa-making demos at the Salsa Contest for more years than we can recall, and his wife, Susan Bright (store manager of the original Bloomingfoods “right up your alley” off Kirkwood) was one of the founders of the Salsa Contest tradition at Bloomingfoods. Nick’s made national news when it was visited by Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama earlier this year. Salsa & guacamole demos

Master of Ceremonies Steve Krahnke is a production manager at WTIU, and the executive producer of many television shows, including The American Experience - Kinsey, Beaux Arts at 50, and Paying for College with the Greenes. He has been the set decorator and set designer of many productions at the Unitarian Universalist Church, as well as for How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying (2007) at Bloomington High School North. Steve plays soccer at Karst Farm Park.

Ellen Michel, Alan Simmerman, Steve Stroup, and Marcia Veldman, Salsa Contest organizers