Great Taste-20140618-Local Iron Chefs and Great Ciao's Cheesehead

Iron Chef WinnersSeveral weeks ago I had the honor of being one of the judges at the final of the Iron Chef competition for upper school students enrolled in an advanced culinary course at the Maharishi School for the Age of Enlightenment (MSAE).  The three winners-Overall Victor-Mickey DeAngelis, Most Creative-Brandon Pratherhuff, and Best Presentation-Davin Titus will join me at KRUU along with their teacher, Laurie Baumann. 

The plan is for the competition to go an extra round as each student will bring a dish to the studio.  Really, I am just looking for more to eat from these talented individuals.  True confession-I wasn't expecting to be blown away by the dishes these guys created during the competition, but it happened.  I'll let them share the details about the ingredients they were given, the rules, and what transpired in the heat of our local kitchen stadium.

As their prize for winning, we went to the Lincoln Wine Bar in Mount Vernon, Iowa, and the boys enjoyed the terrific pizzas turned out by owner Matt Steigerwald and his crew.  As an added bonus, Matt and his wife, Michelle, ate dinner with us, and afterwards he took the budding cooks behind the counter to show them the pizza oven.

Click on READ MORE (below right) for information on the second half of the show.

CHEESE, CHEESE, CHEESE

Katie Milliron/Zingerman's DeliKatie Milliron loves cheese.  I love to ask Katie about cheese, and seriously pay attention to her recommendations.  She works at a specialty food importer/distributor, Great Ciao, in Minneapolis where she introduces chefs and retailers to artisanal cheeses-both domestic and foreign.  Of course, part of her job is being intimately familiar with the product, and that requires tasting all the cheeses that come in for resale, and also continually checking out potential new product.  Tough, but necessary.  In addition, she learns the back story of each cheese from the cheesemakers because the knowledge of how the cheese is made is an essential component of the taste experience, both for her and her customers.

After graduating from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor she worked at Zingermans, one of the most famous gourmet food stores in the country.  There she was exposed to amazing food items produced all over the world including terrific cheeses from small producers.  She used to draw many of the signs that appeared at different locations in the store, and today has an illustrated blog-artofcultures.com.  It's a fun spot to go and learn about cheese.

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