NEW YORK— The crowd waits for Andrea Beaman, a natural foods chef featured on Bravo’s “Top Chef,” to begin the 20-minute cooking competition at The Great GoogaMooga Festival in Prospect Park on Saturday.
Beaman waves a bloody glove and says her sous-chef might have to take her place. She just sliced two fingers as she was racing the clock with an unfamiliar knife.
She decides to keep going. “That’s the way chefs roll, I still have 8 more fingers,” Beaman joked.
The Just Food cooking competition consists of 10 types of vegetables, oil, seasoning, and 20 minutes to cook everything.
The competition is inspired by the community-supported agriculture group CSA. The group supports a model of food delivery whereby local farmers bring freshly harvested produce boxes to selected recipients every week, for six months out of the year. Consumers are challenged to use up all of the healthy food in the boxes they receive before the next delivery.
Just Food is a nonprofit organization that aligns local farmers, food producers, and CSA organizers with the community.
Since 1995, Just Food has pioneered and helped the growth of sustainable food programs, such as CSAs, community-run farmers’ markets, and farm-to-food pantry programs.
Beaman competed against Cathy Erway, author of “The Art of Eating In,” and the popular food blog “Not Eating Out In New York.”
All the two chefs had to work with were 10 vegetables from a CSA box, and a lot of creativity.
Erway made “quick pickled radishes.”
“Most people think you need a long time to make pickle things. But the secret is if you cut things thin enough, it doesn’t take long at all,” said Josh, Erway’s sous-chef. “You can pickle anything if it’s thin enough.”
The competition encourages everyday cooks to save both food and time.
“This actually sounds really good,” whispers an audience member.
The contestants scurry to add finishing touches to their quick, delicious meals when an egg drops beside Erway.
With two fingers cut, and an egg casualty, the competition rounds up to a close finish, with Beaman coming out on top.
The competition was one of many activities happening at the GoogaMooga Festival.
On May 19 and 20 Prospect Park held 75 food vendors, 35 brewers, 30 winemakers, and 20 live music performances. Notable performances included The Roots, Hall and Oates and Holy Gost! Food from Mother-in-law’s Kimchi and Saxelby Cheesmonger were also featured.
“The waits are a little long, but that’s to be expected,” said Brian Jones, an attendee of the festival.
“It’s nice to try out a lot of different food in one place,” he said.
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