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The dancing California raisin along with the California Raisin Marketing Board returned for Pastry Chicago's Amateur/Student Cookie Competition at Whole Foods Market in Chicago, April 16.
Competitors, including pastry and culinary students as well as amateurs, presented their best cookies with California raisins and other high-quality ingredients for the fourth annual competition. While judges tasted and examined each entry, pastry chef instructor Della Gossett of The French Pastry School of Kennedy-King College, Chicago, demonstrated classic recipes for all attendees to sample. Formerly with Charlie Trotter's, chef Della teaches in the full-time programs at The French Pastry School.
Joining as judges were some other prominent Chicago pastry chefs, including Jimmy MacMillan, executive pastry chef at the University Club of Chicago; Sarah Kosikowski, executive pastry chef at the Trump Hotel; Joshua Baudin of Sweet Whimsy Pastry, Long Grove, Ill.; Gary Konkel of Whole Foods; and Tommy Zarlengo of Zarlengo's Italian Ice and Gelato, Chicago Heights, Ill. "I was very impressed by the contestants' work," says chef Kosikowski, "This is the first Pastry Chicago competition I've judged, and it was great to be able to see so many sectors of the pastry world come together."
First through fifth place winners took home prizes provided by KitchenAid, California Raisin Marketing Board, Fresno, Calif., and The French Pastry School. Carla Cubert was this year's first-place winner with her Raisin Rugelach recipe. "I have so much fun at these competitions," she says. "Really, the best part for me is watching chef Della's demonstration. She is so knowledgeable and talented and down to earth. I've learned a lot from her." Chef Della presented recipes that included her Caramelized Pineapple, Golden Raisin and Ginger Rugelach, and Three-Point Cookies with Grand Marnier-Soaked Raisins, Chocolate and Candied Orange Peel.
Second place went to Dawn Hertz with her Carrot Cake cookies; Caroline Joshi and her Coconut-Curry cookies with raisins took third place; Amelia Hyde's Raisin Peek-a-Boo cookies won fourth place; and fifth place went to Holly St. Myers with her Take Me to the Movies Chocolate-Covered Raisin cookies.
All of these winning recipes are available to download at www.pastrychicago.org.
For more information about classes or future competitions, go to www.pastrychicago.org.