Ice cream challenge makes for hot time at Westport Library
Published 1:05 pm, Monday, June 27, 2011
Gone are the days of plain chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Local shops and farm stands offer flavors like Mocha Chocolate Almond Blitz, Cappuccino Crunch and Elvis' Dream.
The proliferation of food competitions on television has influenced young, budding chefs to get in the culinary creativity act. Several of them battled "Top Chef"-style Saturday in the Westport Public Library's Teen Top Chef Ice Cream Challenge. They concocted unique flavors using vanilla ice cream as a base and adding to it an assortment of toppings from the typical fudge sauce to the out-of-the-ordinary potato chips, at the urging of Jaina Lewis, the teen librarian.
"I encourage you to be creative in the kitchen and elsewhere," said Lewis, who told the competitors to think of her as Padma Lakshmi during the event. Lakshmi is the host of the popular "Top Chef" program on the Bravo cable television network. She also encouraged them to "taste your flavor along the way to make sure it's not gross." With ingredients like mint and milk chocolate candies, crushed Graham crackers, fresh strawberries, toasted almonds and caramel sauce it was next to impossible to create something unappetizing. Competitors and parents lined up to taste the nine entries and vote on the favorites in three categories: Most Delicious Flavor, Most Creative and Best Marketing.
As competitors looked over the table full of possible ingredients Julia Burns, 13, of Fairfield, asked her two teammates -- sister Lauren Burns, 12, and cousin Caroline Marks, 14, of Covington, La., -- "Guys, caramel or fudge?" "Both!" Caroline told her.
After the ice creams were made, Lewis asked each individual and team to name their flavor and devise an ad campaign for it.
Amelia Barrow, 11, of Easton, came up with a flavor she called Banana Canada. One team called their ice cream Craziness in a Bowl. Libby Albanese and Emma Thomas, both 12 and from Redding, named theirs Double C Explosion for their two ingredients: chocolate and cherries.
Scott Csefai, 13, of Middlebury, was the only one brave enough to use wasabi peas in the ice cream he called A Cherry Chocolate Swirl Kick. "I like being creative and experimenting with new things," said Scott, who aspires to becoming a chef and opening a restaurant someday. Scott hoped his risk-taking would secure him a win in the Most Delicious Flavor category but that title went to Gabriella Petrone, 12, of Fairfield, for her Peanut Butter Cup S'mores ice cream. She also won in the Most Creative category.
"I thought it was a fun idea," Anna said of the competition.
Kaila said it was an extension of the kind of thing she does at home. "I experiment with dinner. I experiment with all kinds of meals. Desserts too. I like to cook," she said.