By William Thompson
The Holiday Inn’s Branding Iron Restaurant held a cooking contest Saturday, and Gigi Parker’s “Ostrich Diane” won first prize and will appear on the restaurant’s menu. Five area residents entered the restaurant’s first-ever cooking contest.
Peter Kampfer, Tucumcari’s new economic development director, was on hand to judge entries along with Mayor Mary Mayfield, business owner Steve Mills and Chef Tyler Schutte of the Branding Iron.
Parker, who works at Floeck’s Country Ostrich Ranch, said ostrich tastes like beef.
“My entry is basically seasoned ostrich meat seared in hot butter and olive oil and served with a chardonnay sauce,” Parker said.
The contest was the brainchild of Schutte who said it was a good way to get the community involved in the artistry of good food.
“People were always giving me suggestions for the menu and telling me about their recipes, so I decided we should have a contest open to the public,” Schutte said. “All the food cooked here today was very good.”
Schutte said Parker’s Ostrich Diane dish deserved first prize because the meat was cooked “just right.”
“It had great flavor,” Schutte said. “The meat was a nice medium-rare, “ and the chardonnay sauce had a nice velvety texture.”
Kampfer said he voted for Warren Ross’s chicken fettucine recipe.
“It had a nice rich taste,” Kampfer said. “The sauce had a little heavy cream in it.”
Ross said his years of cooking experience set his chicken fettucine apart from the run-of-the mill pasta dish.
“It’s all about putting all of your experience into the dish,” Ross said. “My chicken fettucine is all homemade.”
Brenda Lopez entered a fried pork chop recipe handed down from her mother.
“The secret is in my breading, “ Lopez said. “It’s all in the breading.”
Cathy Estrada entered a green chili pork tostada.
“I fry some pork loin, add flour and water, let it come to a boil then add garlic and green chilis and a little chicken base,” Estrada said. “My kids are always telling me I should enter my green chili pork tostada in a competition.”
Robert Hoefer entered a green chili chicken casserole.
“This is something I just threw together,” Hoefer said. “I like to cook that way, experimenting by combining different ingredients together at the last minute.”
Hoefer won third-prize. Ross’s chicken fettucine came in second.
As for Parker’s Ostrich Diane, it will be called “Floeck’s Ostrich Diane” on the Branding Iron menu.
“When it goes on the menu, I will bring family and friends here for dinner to celebrate,” Parker said.
Schutte said another cooking contest will take place in about three months. Call 461-3780 for details.