March 18, 2011 by Dana
I know, I know. It’s about time I tell you about the New England Country Soup Challenge, right? Here’s my recap of the event!
Let’s start from the beginning of the weekend….
My mom picked me up on Friday afternoon and we made the drive up to the Boston area. We arrived just in time for Boston’s rush hour… which is a stroll in the park compared to NYC! We checked into A Cambridge House Inn at Porter, the accommodations the New England Country Soup team arranged for us, and were ready for some dinner.
We waited what seemed like an eternity for a cab to show up, but was probably more like 30 minutes, (you’re not in
Kansas NYC anymore, Dorothy) and headed to the highly recommended Grafton Street Pub.
This happened to be the perfect pick for me and my mom. It was mom’s birthday, and all she wanted was some Boston seafood, and I wanted… well, anything but seafood. Luckily this place accommodated our needs perfectly. Mom got the Seared Day Boat Scallops with butternut squash puree, and I got the Toasted Chickpea Burger with yogurt cucumber sauce and grilled naan. We treated ourselves to a delicious Apple Cobbler with Cinnamon Ice Cream for dessert.
Everything was totally delicious! I would definitely recommend the Grafton Street Pub to anyone in the Caimbridge area! The food was all amazing, and the atmosphere is perfect for a low key gastro-pub kind of meal.
We walked around the area after dinner, which included checking out the huge used book section of the Harvard Bookstore. The used cookbook section was awesome! I couldn’t help but buy one on the way out. The Mayo Clinic Cookbook, to be exact.
The cab ride back to the hotel miraculously took half the time as it had taken us to get there…. I’m thinking the first cab driver knew we were from out of town since we were coming from a hotel, so he added a little extra driving time to the route. (Maybe it’s not so different from NYC afterall…).
We got back to the hotel and I fell asleep immediately. I had a big day coming up!
Saturday morning, mom and I woke up early. We got ready, packed up our stuff, and headed downstairs for breakfast. There we heard one of the other guests, Jasmine, talking about the Soup Challenge. We introduced ourselves and started making small talk about the contest.
Jasmine went on to inform me that she knew 7 of the other 10 finalists from previous competitions they had entered before. Then she rattled off all of the prizes each of them had won…. $10,000 for a cranberry recipe for so-and-so…. $10,000 for a Steak challenge for so-and-so…. $5,000 for a wine challenge for so-and-so………..
Are you getting the picture??? They were like practically professional food and recipe competitors!
I could feel myself getting more and more nervous.
Luckily, it was almost time to go to the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts for the competition. Jasmine was in the first group of contestants, so she went to the CSCA and my mom and I went back upstairs to
calm me down grab our stuff.
When we arrived at the CSCA, the first round of chefs were already well into their preparations, and the place smelled amazing. The room was set up with a display of the prizes in the back, and chairs lined up for spectators to watch the kitchen while we cooked.
Everyone from New England Country Soup was super nice and helpful. They handed me and the other contestants our stylish hats and aprons, and explained the safety rules.
When it was finally my turn to cook, I took my place in the kitchen.
And now, please stay tuned for a montage of me looking nervous:
Ok, enough being nervous! Now it was time to work…
A few more nerves kick in when I think I’m running out of time…
But before I know it the soup is done…
…and I’m plating for the judges!
After judging, we got a chance to taste some of the other soups. My personal favorite was Denise’s Hearty Fra Diavolo Roasted Chicken Pomodoro Soup.
While I didn’t win (I ended up somewhere in the middle), I had such a great time participating in the event! All of the other contestants were so nice and supportive when they found out it was my first competition. All in all, I had such a blast… I can’t wait for my next competition ;)