Fardowners Wins This Year’s Crozet Culinary Competition

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Alex Diaz and Mark Cosgrove of Fardowners.
Alex Diaz and Mark Cosgrove of Fardowners.

Fardowners Restaurant walked away with the Crozet Culinary Competition’s silver bowl trophy in the second annual showdown of Crozet restaurants over bragging rights at The Lodge at Old Trail Sept. 19.

Competing this year were Pat and Eddie Koemahathai of Bangkok 99, who won last year and were back to defend the cup, which had sat on their main counter since it was won; Mark Cosgrove and Alex Diaz from Fardowners; Paula Finazzo and Tiz Butterfield from Sal’s Restaurant; and Jason Fitzgerald and Kellie Carter from Southern Way Café. Da Luca Cafe had been expected to compete but withdrew when their sous chef was in an accident before the event.

Lodge chef Jesse Kaylor served as the competition’s host and prepared hors d’oeuvres for the spectators. There was a continuous run on the barbeque sliders. Local wines and beers were to be had at a cash bar. A silent auction, including art by well-known local artists, lined the main hallway.

The cooks were given one hour to prepare an entrée and a dessert from a required assortment of mystery ingredients. Those turned out to be lamb loin from Black Twig Farm in Crozet, sweet potatoes from Whistling Hollow Farm in Crozet, duck eggs from Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm in Augusta County, gouda cheese for Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Crozet, and honey from the hives Lodge owner David Hilliard keeps nearby.

This year the local causes benefitting from the competition were the Crozet Lions Club and Crozet Arts, a nonprofit arts education center. Lions president Skip Thacker thanked the crowd, who had paid $20 a ticket to watch the chefs in frantic action. Thacker said, “We have never refused a request for eyeglasses or hearing aids. Last year we raised $12,000 for the Large Print section of Crozet Library. We support leader dogs and the blind in third world countries.”

Crozet Arts leader Sharon Tolzcyk said, “We believe deeply in the value of the arts. The money raised tonight will establish a scholarship fund so we can penetrate deeper into the community, and also so we can put mirrors on the wall in the ballet classroom.”

Raffle tickets were sold for a drawing to choose two judges to join NBC29’s Henry Graff and the Gazette’s Mike Marshall at the judge’s table. The winning tickets belonged to Jim Duncan, who publishes the realcrozetva.com blog, and to Sharon Bolmey of Ivy.

Judges scored each entrée and dessert in four categories: taste, presentation, creativity and use of the required ingredients on a one-to-five-point scale.

The scorecards were tallied and emcee David Hilliard announced Fardowner’s victory. A review of the scoring showed that each judge had scored Fardowners as the winner. The other competitors were awarded medals.