Local celebrity Chef Hosea Rosenberg (Top Chef Winner, Season Five) won the Pick Chow! Champion title once again this year at our 2nd annual Pick Chow! Across America Iron Chef-style cook-off. He fought a tough battle against Chef Eric Skokan (Chef/Owner, Black Cat, Boulder).
We caught up with ZisBoomBah’s reigning champion, Chef Hosea, backstage before the competition. He was pretty unruffled and said he wasn’t nervous at all. Farm-to-table bistro master and challenger Eric Skokan on his part was confident that having four kids would give him the competitive edge in the battle. And he did indeed win the first part of the competition – rock, paper, scissors for who gets to serve the kid judges first in each course.
ZisBoomBah’s kid judges Ellie, Kai, Jacob and Chloe – naturally, four of the most discerning culinary critics we could find along the Front Range – had a fine time taste testing the kid-friendly three-course meals two of Boulder’s best chefs created for them.
Master of Ceremony, Ted Laszlo (of Laszlo Law, Boulder’s Best 2011), barely gave the rivaling chefs one minute to familiarize themselves with the ingredients. Co-host Brian Cooper, Head of Personal Training at Lakeshore Athletic Club – Flatiron, told the crowd he got involved with ZisBoomBah because after the years, he realized, “whenever kids and their families have a chance to learn about healthy eating and fitness and have fun with is, it sticks with them for a lifetime. Brian, by the way, was extremely popular with the kids in the audience. Or better, his cargo pants were. Every single pocket was stuffed with fabulous prizes from ZisBoomBah wristbands to white water rafting adventures! To get Brian to pull a surprise out of his pockets, kids had to answer questions about healthy eating and fitness he would ask them throughout the cook-off.
The cooking battle began
Like in every decent cooking battle, there was a secret ingredient: Turkey! Each chef had to use turkey in his main dish. The second requirement was to use Madhava agave nectar from our sponsor in any one dish they want. A huge table in the center was filled with an abundance of fresh produce and other ingredients contributed by Alfalfa’s Market in Boulder, CO.
Each chef only had 25 minutes to create three dishes that would then be critiqued by our four kid judges.
The pros got right to it. Chef Hosea worked on a mango BBQ sauce, while his sous-chef Sara pitted cherries she later combined with pineapples, grapes and Madhava agave nectar (a natural sweetener from one of our sponsors) in a bowl. Fitting for Memorial Day, Chef Eric also made a BBQ sauce on the opposite side of the stage, while his sous-chef Emmaline stirred up some yogurt. Eric used “secret spices” in his sauce. He said they were paprika, garlic and cumin, but the live audience wasn’t allowed to tell anyone… so shh!
Following, Chef Eric separated eggs. What was he doing with just yolks? An omelet, crème brûlée or a sauce, the kids in the audience tried to guess. Yes, Chef Eric was whisking up a sauce – he called it his Bubble Sauce.
Chef Hosea meanwhile caramelized watermelon steaks in Madhava agave nectar! Not that he got any extra points for it, but Hosea decided to use Madhava natural sweetener in every single course. Why? Because he can. OK, maybe because he thought adding an extra little touch of sweetness to each and every dish without doubt will get the kids on his side…
Delicious smells from both sides of the stage started to make the audience and the kid judges really, really hungry. Little Chloe actually asked for lemons while she is waiting, because she loves them so much. Kai and Jacob could hardly wait to get a bite of Hosea’s watermelon steak.
With 10 minutes to go, the suspense jumped a few notches when Chef Eric announced he’s ready in five. Hosea countered, “Hey, how about in whenever?” But it was too late, the MC had already accepted Eric’s ante. When he told the two chefs to stand back, time’s up, Eric groaned, “Phew, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” Again, Hosea coolly replied, “Ahh, piece of cake!”
The kids dig in
Chef Eric served his dish #1 fist: roasted turkey with pomegranate BBQ dip and crisp lettuce leafs for garnish. As a dad, Eric knows “kids love to dip at the table.” He got a strong “good” from Jacob, who loved the smooth pink dip on his lettuce. Kai liked the BBQ sauce, because “it’s really sweet.”
Next up was Chef Hosea with dish #1: smoked turkey and tomatoes on pita bread, open-faced, with mango BBQ sauce. Her mouth full, Ellie could only give a thumbs-up. Jacob’s comment – “this sauce is far superior” – sent some “oohs” through the crowd. But since kids are always good for a surprise, Kai objected, defending Eric’s BBQ sauce as the yummier one. Little Chloe liked the tomatoes.
All attention alternated back to Chef Eric for his dish #2: Sous-chef Emmaline had made a cucumber dip, while her maître chose the sweetest veggies he could find on ZisBoomBah’s colorful ingredient table – carrots, celery and asparagus. Ellie loved the carrots, and found the dip “a little sour, but in a good way.” Chloe devoured the asparagus, and when the MC asked her to taste the sauce, she complied and declared it tasted like celery juice. When a surprised MC asked her whether she had ever had celery juice, she looked up at him and shook her adorable blond curls no.
As his dish #2, Chef Hosea served a summer fruit salad with pomegranate and Madhava vanilla agave nectar dressing. Chloe liked the strawberries best. Tasting the dressing, Jacob experienced “an explosion of flavors in my mouth.” Ellie liked that the vanilla flavor had seeped into the fruit.
In a grand finale, Chef Eric served dish #3. Inspired by all the giant bubbles floating above the fest grounds, Chef Eric “thought it would be totally cool to make a sauce that’s all bubbles.” How did he make it? “Magic,” he fibbed. That, plus he “had to put his whisking arm in speed 4, which is the highest speed.” The kids ate the bubble sauce, sweetened with Madhava Natural Sweetener, with strawberries, cherries and bananas. “Bubble sauce is good,” said Ellie. “Amazing,” Jacob chimed in. “Frothy and sweet,” added Kai. As everybody expected by now, Chloe loved the strawberries… and she asked for some help cutting her banana.
Then came Hosea’s much anticipated dish #3: the watermelon steak, roasted in Madhava maple agave nectar, topped with a little bit of cherry yogurt with fresh strawberries and bananas, drizzled with a tad of reduced balsamic vinegar (which is always great on dessert, according to our celebrity chef). All the kid judges thought this final dish was out of this world, but there was no time left for individual comments. Our four junior judges had to mark their scorecards…
And the winner was… Chef Hosea Rosenberg!!!
Stay tuned for our celebrity chefs’ menus and recipes from the cook-off – we can’t wait to get them…
During the cook-off, we also announced that Heatherwood Elementary won our Colorado I’m a Healthy Kid Contest. The Boulder, CO school had the highest percentage of students who took the ZisBoomBah I’m a Healthy Kid Pledge. In a proud short ceremony up on the kids stage, ZisBoomBah awarded the school a $1000 check to go towards their healthy kids initiatives.