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Your Challenge - Experience the Taste of ExpoCulinaria 2013

Fri, Aug 23rd, 2013
Posted in Rushford Arts & Culture

By Team ExpoCulinaria

‘Bring it to the table,’ is not just an engaging command or culinary taste bud invitation. It will also prove an entertaining challenge for the upcoming professional chef cook-off in Rushford, Minn. At the feature September 7 attraction of ExpoCulinaria—An Experience in Taste, the talents and knowledge of two chefs will be put to the fire under the big top in downtown Rushford as they create an array of scrumptious appetizers, entrees and desserts.

Utilizing an unknown pantry of food and surprise ingredients in a limited amount of time, the chefs will vie for top honors and prizes from a panel of three guest judges. The winner must achieve the highest point score for presentation, creativity and taste.

Proclaimed the ‘Year of the Battle of Women Chefs’, 2013 welcomes both well-seasoned and newly-seasoned competitors. Competitor Lisa Yunker was born and raised in a quiet south suburb of Chicago. Yunker had the blessing of a mother and a grandmother on her dad’s side that taught her to love food. She started professionally cooking at the age of 32 in California, and ended up in northern Minnesota, where her career really took off. Yunker is currently a chef at Tilly’s Bar and Grill in Oronoco. Minn.

Her favorite foods to prepare are what some call good old fashioned American cuisine, ranging from high-end steak, seafood, poultry and pork entrees to a list an arm’s length long of sandwiches, wraps, salads and lots of homemade desserts. Chef Yunker prides herself on a work ethic learned from her best friend, her father, and her former Head Chef Cody Zavadil. “I learned so many things from him, professionally as well as personally. He encouraged my imagination, he supported my decisions, and was/is my biggest cheerleader,” says Chef Yunker. “He is like a son to me and I’m forever grateful to him for his tutelage.” continues Chef Yunker. “In my spare time, (laughingly), I absolutely love to garden. Fresh herbs, flowers, and vegetables. I love to plant things and see them grow into beautiful and yes, edible, things. Yard work used to be a punishment of sorts when I was a kid. Now, as an adult, I really enjoy it. It’s kind of my way of winding down and tuning out. My other passions are cooking at home, my 17 lb. Maine Coon cat Spaz, and creating a safe home for the two of us. My cooking at home is at times abstract. I never follow a specific recipe. I start throwing things together and that’s actually how I have come up with most of my best dishes.”

This past April 27 Yunker says she became engaged to the most wonderful man on earth. Yunker stated, “He is incredibly supportive of my career and of me personally. I am also very, very blessed to work where I do. My boss and his wife are the best people in the world to work for, and the staff here is truly a family. Again, I am truly, truly blessed.”

Her competitor is Madeline Dubois. She is originally from Askov, Minn. Dubois says, “It was my dream to be a chef from a very young age. I was always cooking for friends and family growing up so, after a semester at Winona State University, I decided to follow my real passion,” says Dubois. She transferred to Le Cordon Bleu where she graduated this past November with a Certificate of Culinary Arts. After her graduation she moved back to Winona , Minn. to start her career and further her education at Signature’s Restaurant where she is currently exploring baking as a bakers apprentice and training as a Garde Manger. Dubois states, “I am very excited to have the opportunity to compete in the 2013 ExpoCulinaria--an Experience of Taste!”

“My favorite thing about preparing food for our guests at Signatures is bringing together all the different food components on one plate,” shares Dubois. “It is very rewarding to see the final dish that was created, and to see how all the different components look when placed together: I use colors a lot when I cook, and I think the visual aspect to culinary arts is extremely important.”

Dubois says, “One of my favorite things to prepare is dessert, particularly when I can break down classic desserts and remake them in an original way. At Signatures, the Sous Chef and I were able to do this with the banana split. Instead of using bananas, toppings, and ice cream to make the dessert, we used cherry sorbet, banana whipped cream, and pineapple panna cotta to recreate similar flavors while putting a different spin on the banana split.”

When she is not busy in the kitchen, Dubois enjoys being outside and hiking the bluffs that surround Winona. Some of her favorite hobbies include reading novels and memoirs, drawing, and especially painting.

Gastronomic temptations for your pleasure can be sampled throughout downtown Rushford during the course of the 4-8 p.m. evening event. Included will be scrumptious fare and beverages at Norsland Lefse, Shawnee’s Bar & Grill, Stumpy’s Restaurant and Bar, The Creamery Pizza & Ice Cream, and Rushford Foods. Take time to peruse the artesian booths of pottery, hand-crafted pens, baskets, wood carving and more located in or near these locations as well.

While devouring the jazz and mix music of ‘CBB Jazz Combo’ on the patio at Lynndyn Bridge Restaurant, don’t miss the luscious fun inside the banquet room, ‘Expo C Hall.’ Wine and beer tasting offered by Pam’s Off-Sale Liquor and Schotts Liquor, and yummy fares by Artesian Confections, Burdey’s Café, Lynndyn Bridge Restaurant, A Little Decadence, Metz’s Hart-Land Honey and Rushford Foods.

The evening will be still be cookin’ following the ExpoCulinaria events. Patrons are encouraged to stay and dine at downtown restaurants and relish the music, such as that by ‘Carol and Doug’ with fiddle music and Karaoke at Shawnee’s Bar and Grill or that of ‘Chris Von Arx’ at Stumpy’s Restaurant and Bar.

ExpoCulinaria door prize drawings for completed ticket holders, including a chance to win a new gas grill, will be awarded to patrons present following the completion of the Chef Competition.

Tour the ExpoCulinaria Facebook page, Rushford Area Chamber of Commerce website or the Taste of the Trails website for 2012 highlights and more details. Tickets on sale now are limited. You may purchase your tickets in advance at Rushford Foods or by Paypal by visiting the website: www.chamber@rushfordchamber.com. Don’t miss the fun!

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