Salsa Showdown at Denio's Farmers MarketBy: By Anne Stokes, special to the Press Tribune
Denio's Farmers Market kicked off its "Taste of Summer" events with the inaugural Salsa Showdown competition on Saturday. Eleven amateur and student chefs went head to head for bragging rights and a $350 prize purse.
Using all fresh produce from nearby vendors, teams competed in three elimination rounds, with a mystery ingredient unveiled before cooks were unleashed into the market to shop. Judges included professional chefs Scott Ostrander, sous-chef at the Red Rabbit Kitchen & Bar, Aimal Formoli of Formoli's Bistro, Sacramento Bee Food and Wine Editor Chris Macias and market owner Ken Denio.
"As a judge, I am looking for a unique tasting salsa, something that is different than the other run-of-the-mill salsas," Denio said. "All the contestants out here are really great, it was very close. They were all very, very good, and I enjoyed all of them. In fact, it's really hard to judge salsa."
Mother and son team Sylvia and Kempton Stafford, of Lincoln, won with their salsa dish featuring the unique surprise ingredient: a purple tomatillo.
"It was a great honor to compete next to my Mom," Kempton Stafford said. "This is like the things we make at home, using fresh ingredients and everything, so it's like second nature to us."
Sylvia Stafford attributed their win to old-fashioned good taste.
"I make it like I would want to eat it, and if I do then everybody else will like it," she said. "I just try put good components together that would work and I think that's what happened here."
~ Anne Stokes