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Homegrown gardeners, chefs win at tomato challenge at Commerce City King Soopers

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By The Staff

COMMERCE CITY — The NatureSweet Glorys Homegrown Tomato & Chef’s Challenge came to the King Soopers store on E. 104th Avenue in Commerce City late last month on a mission “to find and award the best homegrown tomatoes and tomato dishes of 2014.”

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This is the ninth year the Homegrown Challenge event has been held in Colorado, having had 56 events in 29 cities across the country since 2003.

The Homegrown Challenge is comprised of two main contests: a Chef’s Challenge where three amateur chefs compete in a live cook-off; and a homegrown tomato challenge where gardeners are invited to bring in their homegrown tomatoes to see how they measure up to the best of the best. The 2014 tour features more prize money than ever before with the addition of a third homegrown tomato entry category for medium tomatoes.

A total of $9,600 in prizes was awarded at the event:

• Winston Latimer of Westminster won the $2,000 grand prize in the Glorys Tomatoes Chef’s Challenge after impressing the judges with his Mediterranean Pizza & Spinach Salad masterpiece.

• Marisa Maes of Denver won the $2,000 grand prize in the small tomato growing skill category with her Sungold variety of tomatoes; George Pawlowski of Arvada won the $2,000 grand prize in the medium tomato growing skill category with his Sweet Seedless variety of tomatoes, and Mary Burroughs of Denver won the $2,000 grand prize in the large tomato growing skill category with her Cherokee Purple variety of tomatoes.

All of the grand prize winners faced stiff competition from the following runners-up, who each received a $200 King Soopers gift card:

 

Glorys Tomatoes Chef’s Challenge

Runner-up: Jodi Torpey of Denver with her French Tomato Tart.

Runner-up: Kelly Goetz of Broomfield with her Italian Pasta.

Tomato Growing

Small Tomato Runner-up: Verinca Gonzales (Brandy Sweet Variety),

Small Tomato Runner-up: Carmen Latimer (Sungold variety),

Medium Tomato Runner-up: Mark Franzen (Juan Flonz variety),

Medium Tomato Runner-up: Sandy Gregory (Super Sweet variety),

Large Tomato Runner-up: George Ertle (Emerald Magic variety),

Large Tomato Runner-up: Carl Boustead (Rowdy Red).

The finalists for the Chef’s Challenge were pre-selected from an online essay contest held by NatureSweet, and required to come compete for their prizes in front of a live audience at the event. The cooking finalists were given one hour to select their ingredients, prepare and present their dishes to a panel of local celebrity judges. The three dishes prepared were judged based on flavor and presentation.

All remaining tomatoes, about 125 pounds, along with unopened Chef’s Challenge pantry ingredients were donated to Food Bank of the Rockies.