By Guest Contributor Sherrye Wyatt
Let the battle begin! On November 5, Taste of Ebey’s attendees enjoyed an Iron Chef experience as Camp Casey’s Mess Hall B was transformed into Kitchen Stadium for a culinary cook off to celebrate the secret ingredient: Rockwell Beans. Sponsored by Whidbey Island Grown and the Northwest Agriculture Business Center, the entertaining event was part of the Ebey’s Forever conference. Several Puget Sound Food Network members participated.
Sherrye Wyatt, who works on the Whidbey Island Grown brand and island tourism, organized and moderated the session. Her introductions were sprinkled with dramatic lines from the popular cooking show including “The time has come to once again ask life’s most savory question: Whose cuisine reigns supreme?” and “Ala Cuisine.” On a more serious note, Edible Seattle Magazine Publisher Alex Corcoran spoke on the growing “locavore” movement. He explained the important role public relations and the media play in helping gain public support for preserving rural farm land. But the main stars of the show were those who grow and serve the famous heirloom legume, Whidbey Island farmers and chefs.
Gardener Vin Sherman, Sara Perdue of Prairie Bottom Farm and Georgie Smith of Willowood Farm each captivated the audience as they shared family recipes and humorous stories from their own experiences growing Rockwell Beans in Ebey’s Landing. The main floor show was a fast paced hour long cook-off between Scott Fraser, owner of Fraser’s Gourmet Hideaway in Oak Harbor and Mark Laska, owner of Ciao in Coupeville. They were assisted by volunteer sous chefs Nan Devlin, consultant from Portland, Oregon and Jessica Muzzall of 3 Sisters Cattle Co. of Whidbey Island.
The afternoon’s highlight was when audience members joined the chef’s in the kitchen as they noisily chopped, sautéed, sizzled, and blended the beans into four original succulent variations. The session ended with everyone sampling the chef’s creations.