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Your Challenge - Experience ExpoCulinaria

Mon, Sep 5th, 2011
Posted in Arts & Culture

"Bring it to the table," is not just an engaging command or culinary taste bud invitation, but it will also prove an entertaining challenge for the upcoming chef cook-off at the first ever Rushford, MN, ExpoCulinaria-an experience in taste. Two professional chef's talents and knowledge will be put to the test as they create an array of scrumptious appetizers, entrees and desserts. Utilizing an unknown pantry of food and a surprise ingredient for a panel of judges, in a limited amount of time, the chefs will vie for top honors and prizes. The winning plates will be auctioned off to attending participants.

ExpoCulinaria is slated for 5-8 pm on September 17th rain or shine, at the historic Hoiland Mill. Located on the banks of Rush Creek, the restored and renovated three-story mill is an authentic mingling of rustic charm and former industry presence. Hosted by the Rushford Area Chamber of Commerce, the delectable ExpoCulinaria will coincide with the highly anticipated weekend 25th Anniversary Celebration of the Root River Trail System.

The feature completion will face off two 'seasoned' Minnesota chefs. Peter Botcher is an accomplished chef with over ten years cooking experience. Well versed in a range of cooking styles from butchery to vegetarian to American barbecue, his foundation for cooking lies in traditional French cuisine, wherein he learned classic technique and dedication to the culinary craft. Climbing the ranks in Minneapolis' top fine dining restaurants, he has since gone on to a self-styled apprenticeship in order to develop a repertoire beyond the standard; dedicating himself to learning new skills and mastering new techniques while riding the wave of the progressive dining scene on a national level. Chef Botcher previously worked in two nationally recognized Michelin starred restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area where he resided. Extensive travels around the United States, northern California and France have greatly contributed to his passion for cooking and adventure. Botcher's enjoyment of travel recently brought him to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico where he cooked for Hollywood elite. Currently employed at Tilia, an American bistro in Minneapolis, he keeps busy on his days off making and selling smoked sausages.

His competitor Chef Douglas Dahlgren attended the Art Institutes International Minnesota in Minneapolis, receiving an Associate's degree in the Culinary Arts. While attending school, Dahlgren worked professionally at Barbette in uptown Minneapolis. Here he learned the importance of working with local farmers, and how to utilize local and seasonal ingredients in his menus. After graduation in 2005, Dahlgren began working at Signatures Restaurant in Winona, MN as a line cook, quickly working his way up through the ranks; Lead Line Cook, Pastry Chef, Sous Chef, and most recently holding the title of Executive Chef. Dahlgren believes fully in the farm to table concept by educating the public about where their food comes from. Also that we all have a responsibility in supporting our local economy by buying as much as we possibly can locally. Dahlgren doesn't see this as a fad, but an ethical obligation. Chef Dahlgren's approach to food, "Start with good fresh seasonal ingredients, animals raised by people you know. Do as little as possible to mess it up."

Additionally featured in the fun and appetizing culinary evening will be local and area vendors, providing a mix of wines and micro-brews from Garvin Heights Vineyard, Olvalde Farmhouse Ale and other area vendors. Creative food temptations for your tasting include local, organic foods from Featherstone Farms, ethnic fare from Norsland Lefse, taste specialties from The Creamery and Shawnee's, and sumptuous confections. Door prize drawings also will be awarded to attendees

Sustenance for the ears will be provided throughout the evening from Swing, Inc., of Winona, MN. Billed as, 'the best little big band in town,' the band's selections range from the swing era and beyond, from jazz standards to Latin favorites. This group of players performs regularly in Winona, Rochester, and LaCrosse and throughout the upper Midwest.

Tickets to ExpoCulinaria will be limited to 200. Tickets for the event are $15 per person and are available by contacting Terri Benson, Chamber Executive Coordinator at 507-864-3338, Monday-Friday, 12:30-4:00 pm. Or purchase tickets locally at the Chamber office, 305 S. Elm Street in Rushford, Rushford Foods and Pam's Corner. You may also contact Terri at to find exciting updates about the 25th Anniversary of the Root River Trail and ExpoCulinaria by visiting the Chamber website at in the weeks prior to the events.

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