Around Town

Red Hot - Salsa Contest!

Red Hot: Salsa Contest! 
10 am Saturday, August 30th, at the Farmers' Market

Rag's Makes Salsa for the CrowdIt's salsa time again! For the 5th year in a row – and the 20th year of this co-op tradition – we are pleased to team up with Bloomington Parks and Recreation to co-sponsor the annual Bloomington Salsa Contest, a shakedown showdown in which we ask local judges to determine who makes the best salsa in Bloomington.

The Salsa Contest is one of our community's most popular summertime food traditions. Held at the end of August, when homegrown chilies and tomatoes are most plentiful, you can catch this event at the Bloomington Farmers' Market at Showers Commons, beginning at 10 am on Saturday, August 30th.

This year we are making an addition to the event format, at the request of a number of previous participants. We are adding specialty salsa as a third category, alongside tomato-based raw and cooked. Specialty salsa may be either raw or cooked, without a tomato base. For those folks who have been hankering to compete with a fruit-based salsa, now is your chance.

Here is how the Salsa Contest works:


The 2008 Bloomington Chefs' Challenge


It's happening - right here in Bloomington. The 2008 Bloomington Chefs’ Challenge, raising money to help feed the hungry in our community. Last year’s event raised more than $6,000! More than 200 people a day eat meals at the Community Kitchen where staff and volunteers put together a nutritious meal using collected and donated food items. 

This event that pays tribute to their efforts while showcasing local chefs in a friendly competition.  This culinary event will feature 3 local chefs. Alan Booze, of Meadowood, and Alan Simmerman, of Bloomingfoods, will challenge last years winner - Jake Brenchley of Scholar's Inn.  They will have one hour to prepare a dish from a pantry of ingredients that includest a “mystery ingredient” that will be revealed right before competition begins. 

Bloomington Community Access Televisions film crews will show close-ups of the fast paced live action on the Buskirk’s big screen.  Emcees (Rhino’s, Brad Wilhelm & Bloomingfoods, David Coonce) will update the audience as the competition heats up and then 3 celebrity judges will pick the top dish.  Audience members will have the opportunity to sample signature appetizers from over 10 local chefs, raffle to win an opportunity to sit on the judge’s bench, sample the chefs creations and participate in a live auction of culinary goods. 

Watch a short video highlighting last year’s challenge.

The event is at the Buskirk Chumley on Friday, August 29. Doors open at 6:30 and the Challenge begins at 7:00pm. Tickets are $25.

Winning Salsa Contest Recipes, 2008

Meg Torrence, Melanie Bailey, and Victoria Colongione were the winner's in the "raw" salsa catagory in the 2008 Salsa Competition.  Presented below are their recipes.  The "cooked" and "specialty" recipes follow.

All recipes are reproduced as written by the contestants


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

Support Our Local Economy

Support the Local Food Economy through the Local Growers Guild
by Katie Zukof

ImageFrom now through December 31st, 2008, the Local Growers Guild hopes to expand our community membership from 30 to 400 members. In order to do this, we need your support!
By joining the Local Growers Guild, you help to create a local food system that provides quality food to you and your family. You will gain the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping preserve the viability of family farms, improving the quality of life for growers and promoting practices that preserve and protect the health of ourselves, our environment and our community.
Consumers are a vital part of this mission. The Local Growers Guild strives to educate, connect and support local growers, consumers and businesses in Southern Indiana. We do this by publishing the Local Growers Guide annually, hosting the Winter Farmers’ Market, sponsoring Dine Local Night at area restaurants, and hosting
educational workshops at the Winter Guild Gathering.