Holtville Carrot Festival ends with good food and good times
The Six Pack Crew, flanked by Carrot Festival officials and volunteers, shows its trophy for winning first prize in the Carrot Festival Family Cook-Off in Holtville on Sunday. The Six Pack Crew won $1,000 for their winning entry, pork carnitas. (JOSELITO VILLERO PHOTO / February 10, 2013)
Holtville’s Chamber of Commerce dubbed the final day of its festival the Family Cook-Off Day, and quite a few teams took up the challenge with gusto.
The Six Pack Crew cooked the winning meal, netting the group $1,000. They served Tacos de Carnitas with pork beans and rice on the side.
“It’s an old family recipe,” said Javier Ornelas, when asked what sets his crew’s carnitas apart from others.
This was not the crew’s first time participating in a cooking contest. They made a chicken dish at last year’s cook-off but did not place, Ornelas said.
As sweet as the feeling of victory might be, it’s not what motivated this crew of Holtville residents.
“Winning is a bonus,” said Hector Moreno. “We came for the good times.”
Second-place winner Patty Kopka served some slightly unusual food for the area: honey-chicken kabobs.
“It took me a while to get it to my liking,” she said, elaborating on how she arrived at her prize-winning recipe.
Kopka said she was inspired by the chicken dishes she enjoyed while vacationing in Hawaii, and tried to come up with a similarly tasty dish when she returned to El Centro.
“A lot of it is love,” she said with a smile when asked what her secret ingredient is.
Kopka was quick to credit her crew of four friends with her win, and said she would share part of the $500 prize with them, and invest the rest in the next cooking event she enters.
Does Kopka have a dish in mind for next year’s cook-off?
“I live in the moment,” she said. “I don’t plan that far in advance.”
Perhaps it is appropriate that a dessert gets third place, after two main dishes took the top two spots.
Patricia McLaughlin baked a carrot cake, one tasty enough to net her $250.
The Holtville resident did not confirm if there is anything secret or special about her recipe. However, she said she has had a lot of practice baking her award-winning cake.
“I’ve been making them a long time. Everybody said they liked them so I continued,” she said.
Staff Writer Antoine Abou-Diwan can be reached at 760-337-3454 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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