Stone Soup program offering cooking contest at next week’s 4-H Fair

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 18 July 2023 at 1:53 pm

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Marie Gabalski, nutritionist at the Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension, holds an Instant Pot which is being given away as part of their Stone Soup nutrition program. Stone Soup is having a cooking contest at the upcoming Orleans County 4-H Fair.

KNOWLESVILLE – Community Action of Orleans and Genesee in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension is announcing a unique and fun contest at the Orleans County 4-H Fair, scheduled July 24-29.

The contest is a Stone Soup Showdown Cooking Competition to support what people have learned from the Stone Soup Program.

Stone Soup is a program proposed by Community Action’s executive director Renee Hungerford, who got the idea when her husband Mark came home from helping at a food pantry with a box of food no one wanted. The box contained tamarinds and Mark said no one took them because they didn’t know what to do with them. Renee did some research and came up with several delicious recipes using the tropical fruit.

Last year, Renee began to wonder how many other people don’t take advantage of free food because they don’t know how to prepare it or have the necessary utensils. She contacted Cornell Cooperative Extension and with them applied for and received a $250,000 Highmark Blue Cross/Blue shield grant.

The grant-funded classes were called Stone Soup, and 26 people enrolled. It was taught by Cooperative Extension’s nutritionist Marie Gabalski, who taught them how to cook and provided them with utensils they didn’t have. In the end 21 people graduated from the class.

That spawned an idea to sponsor a cooking contest at the fair. It will take place July 29 at 12:30 p.m. on the Main Stage. Registration will be limited to 10 entrants, who must register by Thursday (July 20) and pay a fee of $10 at the fair office. Entrants can register by calling 798-4265, Ext. 139.

Contestants will have a hot plate and skillet to work with and have two hours to show their creative cooking talents. The winner will receive two fair passes and prize money.

Joining Renee in judging will be Lionel Heydel, a former French Culinary School chef.