CSA Smackdown 2014 by Erin Vito

The third annual CSA Smackdown, hosted by Haven’s Kitchen, featured competitors from Sunset Park, Grand Street and MidIsland/South Shore CSAs. The event was the final round competition celebrating the culinary talents of everyday home cooks across New York City.

The evening started with a judges’ reception in the cozy second-floor bar area. Foodies from the five boroughs enjoyed cheeses, cured meats and hors d’oeuvres. Delicious libations like the “Vivian” and “Lipstick on a Pig” were made with Whistle Pig Rye, maple syrup and fresh grapefruit, among other ingredients. The diverse group of attendees, ranging from long-time CSA members to hipsters to families with kids, snacked and chatted while waiting for the “main event” to begin.

The crowd grew as the party moved upstairs to the cook-off space for the competition. The three teams were equipped with Wüsthof knives, cutting boards, cookware and portable stoves at tables set up in the modern, airy event space. The basket of secret ingredients provided to competitors was revealed and included fresh ginger, thyme, bok choy, swiss chard, green tomatoes, red cabbage, daikon, carrots and mushrooms. Eggs, olive oil, vinegar, butter, salt and pepper were also provided to all teams.

Teams were given 10 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to cook a dish for the judges. After furiously chopping, sautéing, seasoning and plating,each team presented its culinary creation to  the judges. Tom Colicchio from Crafted Hospitality and Top Chef, Amanda Hesser, Co-founder and CEO of Food52 and Haven’s Kitchen Executive Chef David Mawhinney tasted, discussed and scored the three distinct dishes based on creativity, taste and presentation.

And the Winner is…
The judges declared “LES Cooks” from Grand Street CSA the winners of the 2014 Smackdown. Congratulations LES Cooks!

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