The Hippo


Oct 21, 2019








Fire and Fusion Executive Chef Competition. Courtesy photo.

Fire and Fusion Executive Chef Competition

Where: Alpine Grove Banquet Facility, 19 S. Depot Road, Hollis
When: Wednesday, May 3, 6 to 9 p.m. 
Cost: $40. For ticket availability, call Eileen Gormley at 816-2642. 
Visit:, or search for event on 

Getting creative
Chefs face off in Chopped-style live competition

By Angie Sykeny

 Eight executive chefs from local hospitals and health care facilities will go head to head and showcase their culinary creativity at the fifth annual Fire and Fusion Executive Chef Competition, happening Wednesday, May 3, at the Alpine Grove Banquet Facility in Hollis.

Following a format similar to that of the Food Network program Chopped, Fire and Fusion invites competing chefs to take part in a timed cooking challenge using five mystery ingredients, all in front of a live audience. 
“A lot of people watch the show [Chopped] and are intrigued by how the chefs come up with this stuff,” said Judy Porter, development director for the Nashua Senior Activity Center, which is hosting the event. “I think the attendees enjoy coming out to taste all these interesting foods and to see what the local chefs can come up with.” 
The evening begins with a cocktail hour featuring more than 400 hors d’oeuvres prepared by the competing chefs. The chefs are encouraged to bring globally inspired cuisine and decorate their booths as part of this year’s theme, “Flavors of the World.” Guests will have a chance to meet the chefs, sample the hors d’oeuvres and vote for their favorites to win the People’s Choice award. 
After the cocktail hour, the mystery ingredients will be unveiled as the live competition gets underway. 
The chefs will have 30 minutes to create an original dish utilizing all five ingredients. The ingredients typically consist of one meat and some uncommon items; last year’s ingredients included chicken thighs, starfruit and ube, a Filipino purple yam. 
“One chef took the ube and made these little pancakes out of it,” Porter said. “I was so impressed that someone could be so creative and know what to do with an ingredient like that.” 
This year’s Fire and Fusion will be the first to feature four ingredients sourced from local farms in an effort to promote New Hampshire’s farm-to-table scene. Those farms will also be introduced and highlighted at the event. 
“It’s our attempt to show that buying local can be really good, and that there are some great farms in the state with amazing products,” Porter said. “I think that part will be of huge interest to people.”   
The competition will be hosted by Mike Morin, co-host of The Chef’s Plate — A Taste of New England on WBIN TV, and shown with close-up shots on two large screens so guests can get a better look at the action. 
When the 30 minutes is up, each chef will present his or her dish to a panel of judges, which will include Chef Nicole Barreira of Great NH Restaurants, Nashua Telegraph writer Kathleen Palmer, and co-host of The Chef’s Plate Helen Ryba. Once the judges have tasted and scored each dish, the scores will be tabulated to reveal the Fire and Fusion 2017 Top Chef, and ballots will be counted to determine the People’s Choice winner. Winners will receive an award plaque and gift certificates to various local restaurants and hotels. 
“There is this perception that health care food is not high quality, but that has changed drastically over the years,” Porter said. “This really highlights the evolution of culinary skill and creativity in the health-care arena, and hopefully once people taste the food, they’ll see that it’s as good as the food at high-end restaurants.”

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