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Palmisano is Top Chef in Iron Chef contest

BURLINGTON On Aug. 18, a womans fantasy became reality in a forum never seen before: the University of Vermonts Davis Center Grand Maple Ballroom, converted into a giant cooking area. Sarah Lemnahs motivation to create a UVM Kitchen Stadium was to benefit the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging (CVAA) Wheels on Meals and Case Management Programs with the 2nd Annual Top Chef of the Champlain Valley, an Iron Chef Experience competition. To realize her dream, Lemnah (CVAA communications director) chose three iron chefs of the Champlain Valley to tilt for the Top Chef title. The invincible persons of culinary skill were David Hoene of Paulines Caf鬠Connie Jacobs Warden of Chow!Bella, and Sam Palmisano of Pulcinellas Ristorante. The judges were Carolyn Malcoun of Eating Well Magazine, Suzanne Podhaizer of Seven Days, Jozef Harrewyn of Chefs Corner, and Vermont food consultant Annie Harlow. The heat was on. Serenaded by Trinitys upbeat Celtic music and cheered on by many enthusiastic seniors and non-seniors, the three chefs had 45 minutes to tackle the two theme ingredients of the dayceleriac (celery root) and oyster mushrooms, not exactly household staples. Celeriac, a cousin to anise, has been described by National Public Radio as the vegetable worlds ugly ducklingthe unsung frog prince of winter vegetables. Oyster mushrooms are eminently edible, but only the ones from hardwood trees. According to Pulcinellas website, the restaurant is named after a classical character who originated in the Commedia Dellarte of the 17th century and was a lover of fine food, wine, and adventure. In true Pulcinellian spirit, Sam Palmisano won the Top Chef crown (or perhaps, toque) by adventurously integrating the two selected ingredients, and a bit of wine, into his fine appetizer and entr饮 His appetizer consisted of an oyster mushroom-celeriac bisque topped with fried oyster mushrooms and celeriac, and accompanied by an organic mesclun salad with a cider vinaigrette. His main course showcased Misty Knoll chicken breasts stuffed with oyster mushrooms and served with chipotle-Gouda polenta, wilted Swiss chard, and an oyster mushroom-Shiraz jus. You could almost hear the lips smacking. Even before he was announced as the champion, Palmisano showed his class by declaring that it didnt matter who won. He emphasized that the evenings rivalry was all for a good cause. Over 325, 000 Meals on Wheels and community meals will be delivered to homebound seniors this year. The rising cost of food and fuel will be partially alleviated by the proceeds from the Top Chef competition. Sarah Lemnah, Sam Palmisano, Connie Jacobs Warden, and David Hoene can all be proud. For information about CVAAs valuable senior services, visit cvaa.org. The restaurants websites are pulcinellasristorante.com (Pulcinellas), chowbella.us (Chow!Bella), and paulinescafe.com (Paulines Caf驮 Whichever iron chefs restaurant you choose, buon appetito.

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