Would-be chefs in the Okanagan College culinary program captured first, second and third place honours in the 27th annual edition of the Top Tomato Recipe contest sponsored by the Florida Tomato Council.
Annie Low, a student from Britain studying Advanced Culinary Management at OC’s Kelowna campus, earned first place with her recipe for Tomato Chili Jam.
“I was surprised to learn that I had won,” said Low.
“I was even more surprised to learn that Okanagan College students had earned second and third place too.”
Low is interested in moving to Canada after she completes her studies.
Second went to Morris Hsu, who developed a recipe for tomato iced tea. Hsu slow roasted tomatoes before they were strained and then infused them with mint, fennel leaves and ginger.
Third place belonged to Elizabeth Devereaux, who stacked a panko-crusted eggplant slice with tomato jam, mozzarella, a tomato slice, tomato mayonnaise and a fresh basil leaf.
The OC students were encouraged to enter the contest by their instructor, chef Mike Barillaro.
“I’m impressed with the results, but not entirely surprised,” said Okanagan College’s director of food, wine and tourism Jonathan Rouse in a press release.
“We have a top-notch group of chef instructors and passionate students who appreciate fresh ingredients — and love developing recipes that reflect different ways of thinking about them.”
This isn’t the first time that Okanagan College has reached across the continent to impress the tomato aficionados of Florida.
In 2009, another Okanagan College culinary student, David Colombe (who originally hailed from Chicago) captured top spot in the contest. Colombe went on to write a couple of cookbooks, served as executive chef at a number of well-known area restaurants and, of late, hangs his hat in Sorrento where he is associated with Left Fields Farm and is a strong proponent of the farm-to-table movement.
According to the Florida Tomato Council’s press release on the contest, judges award prizes based on flavour, originality, use of fresh Florida tomatoes and ease of preparation.
Annie Low’s award-winning recipe for the Florida Tomato Chili Jam:
3 pounds of fully-ripened fresh Florida tomatoes cored and chopped
2 red peppers, cooked in oven until blistered and starting to turn black, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 small red chili, seeded and chopped fine
A. Combine all ingredients in a pan and cook over medium-high heat stirring constantly.
B. Bring to a boil for two minutes. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture has a jam-like consistency, about 2.5 hours. (a half-recipe cooks in 1.5 hours)
C. Serve with a soft cheese and crackers.
Yields about three pints — store in glass containers.