Amateur Chefs Compete For Top Citrus Honors

For the 2005 Sunkist Citrus Challenge, hundreds of at-home chefs across the country proved that a splash of citrus can spice up any meal and inspire flavorful, fun and quick creations that any cook would be eager to share.

The national contest called for amateur chefs to enter their recipes in three categories: Entree, Quick & Easy and Citrus Celebre. Entrants from nearly 30 states submitted their signature, citrus-inspired recipes.

After much blending, sauteing, stirring and simmering, official Sunkist Citrus Challenge judges announced in March that they had discovered three excellent recipes bursting with citrus flavor. The winning chefs were Lisa Keys of Middlebury, Conn., Edwina Gadsby of Great Falls, Mt., and Nikki Norman of Milton, Tenn.

“It’s a delight to see how the premium great taste and versatility of citrus inspired such creativity in the kitchen,” said chef Nancy Swinney, one of the contest’s head judges.

The winning recipes were evaluated by a panel of judges using the official criteria – taste, ease of preparation and accordance with a fun, wholesome and healthy lifestyle. Each winning chef was awarded $2,000 and a bounty of fresh Sunkist citrus fruit in order to continue treating friends and family to their flavorful recipes.

Keys submitted her Fire & Ice Citrus Steaks & Salsa recipe for the contest’s Entree category, putting a distinctive spin on grilled steaks and typical salsa. This recipe calls for rib-eye steaks to be marinated in a delicate blend consisting of Moro orange juice and later grilled and smothered with a spicy and juicy salsa of navel oranges, jalapenos, tomatoes and cilantro.

Gadsby’s Asian Citrus Salmon Rolls, winner in the Quick & Easy category, is perfect for cooks who are running short on time. The salmon is marinated in a blend of juices, including orange and grapefruit, and hoisin sauce, Asian garlic chili sauce and Oriental sesame oil. The salmon is served inside fresh red-leaf lettuce and can be dipped in the citrus marinade sauce.

Norman’s Warm Lemon-Basil “Martini” Cake with Toasted-Spice Citrus Tartar, submitted in the Citrus Celebre category, features enough citrus to dazzle the taste buds. It’s topped with a combination of cinnamon, Minneola tangelos and Moro oranges. The outcome is a citrus-infused dessert served in a martini glass and topped with a turbinado sugar-coated rim.