It was a deliciously creative serving of SPAM fajitas, deftly prepared by Provo’s Deputy CAO Dixon Holmes, along with his sous chef, Provo City Council Member Katrice MacKay, that took home the win for overall best-flavored entree during Community Action Services and Food Bank’s (CASFB) inaugural Food Pantry Cook-off on Wednesday, May 25.
The cook-off event was held at CASFB of Provo to commemorate the agency’s 55th year of serving residents in need living in Utah, Wasatch and Summit counties. Holmes and MacKay were among four sets of contestants vying for accolades in a cooking competition featuring food commonly found in the facility’s food pantry. Other chefs included Orem’s Mayor David Young, Curtis Blair and David Rowley from the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce, and CASFB’s own CFO David Robinson.
With just under an hour to prepare a meal for the three judges, the chef contestants were provided with their choice of either chicken or beef, an array of fresh fruits and vegetables and two large bins of items that had been donated to the food pantry that they were allowed to rummage through.
Not only was this a fun cooking competition, but the chefs exhibited great ways to easily, effectively and deliciously use often-forgotten pantry ingredients.
“It was really, really creative to think that you all walked over there, four untrained people, selected your items, made it from scratch on a stove you’ve never cooked on before … and you created these beautiful plates,” said Mary Crafts, founder of Culinary Crafts and guest judge, to the contestants. “The dishes [you] prepared are easy to replicate at home.”
The two other judges joining Crafts were Chef Joseph McRae from UVU’s culinary arts program and United Way of Utah County’s Bill Hulterstrom.
While the SPAM Fajitas took home the best overall flavor award, each participant won an award. Robinson’s chicken curry over rice won for being the easiest entree to replicate at home. The Chamber of Commerce team’s chicken fajita with a beef taco on the side won for most visually appealing. And Orem’s mayor’s beef and veggie sauté with fried baby red potatoes and a spinach and strawberry salad won for best use of pantry items.
Throughout the afternoon competition, more than 150 guests and CASFB clients were treated to tacos from Jurassic Street Tacos, shaved ice from Kona Ice and cookies provided by Crumbl.
Since 1967, Community Action Services and Food Bank has stabilized individuals and families in need by meeting their basic critical needs (such as housing and food) while providing them with the long-term solutions they need to rebuild their financial and social self-sufficiency, enabling them to break out of poverty. More than a food pantry, the agency offers
- take-home meals for school children,
- financial learning and homebuying classes,
- emergency assistance (like motel and clothing vouchers and bus tokens),
- community gardens,
- a commercial kitchen for food startups and,
- the extended Circles program, which helps low-income families and individuals stabilize and build self-reliance to they can move out of poverty.
For more information about Community Action Services and Food Bank, visit communityactionuc.org.