The pride of cooking

Many food items are presented at the Hamilton County Fair each year, but one contest not only asks participants to make delicious food items. They must also demonstrate how to prepare these items which must include one outstanding product of Iowa.

The Pride of Iowa contest included 14 members of 4-H clubs across Hamilton County, including junior, intermediate and senior members. Contestants are tasked with finding an original recipe, bringing their own ingredients and equipment including small appliances, and preparing the dish in front of a couple judges.

A unique feature of the contest is that participants must prepare their food items, which can be beverages, a main dish, a salad or a snack, and communicate how to prepare the dish, in complete silence. Contestants do bring a poster which includes the ingredients and instructions for how to make the dish, and will reference the poster by pointing to it as they prepare their dish.

One contestant, Cheyenne Grunwald, a senior member of the Boone Boosters 4-H club, prepared a gluten free oatmeal cookie dish. Mixing the ingredients of bananas, rolled oats, raisins, melted butter, skim milk and vanilla, she prepared the dish and used a cardboard box labeled “oven” to demonstrate how the dish must be prepared.

For Grunwald’s dish, she chose to use milk as her outstanding product made in Iowa. Pride of Iowa judge Jessica Norman said that all of this must be completed in a 10-minute time frame.

“We also look for other rules,” Norman said. “We make sure their hair is pulled back and they’re wearing an apron, that their visuals are easy to read from a distance, and that they present their information in a logical order.”

The whole competition is not only aimed to highlight products from Iowa, but also allows 4-H members a chance to practice good cooking skills and practice non-verbal communication.

“It’s a very unique little experience,” Norman said.