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Celebrity Chefs Wow Judges at Roaring Twenties Soirée for Rivers

800 450 Stroud Water Research Center
Jessica Provinski

By Jessica Provinski. Photos by Jana Bannan Photography.

Gatsby and Daisy weren’t on hand to meet guests at the Roaring Twenties Soirée for Rivers on Friday, September 16 at The Navy Yard, but some local chefs were! Heading off the evening as the main sponsor was The Cat’s Pajama’s sponsor: Brown Brothers Harriman Trust Company of Delaware. 

Top hats, feathers, and sequined gowns galore dotted the URBN Headquarters at The Navy Yard while guests sipped on Evil Genius beer, a Giggle Water cocktail made with Stateside Vodka, and an array of boxed waters and seltzer. Traditional Roaring Twenties–style food including deviled eggs and pig wings kept the guests’ hunger at bay as the aromas from the main event started to permeate the space. 

The main event was The Bee’s Knees Culinary Competition, a Chopped-style cooking competition that featured three local chefs and three media personalities as sous chefs. The teams were chosen at random and not told about the three secret ingredients in their chef’s baskets (pawpaws, hemp hearts, and kombucha from Baba’s Bucha). 

The chefs were given 45 minutes to prepare their full entrée and present it to the three judges. The emcee of the evening, Patrick Andrews, chief of markets for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, kept the crowd entertained throughout the cooking competition. The crowd also enjoyed a flare cocktail demonstration by Neil Heimsoth, beverage director at White Orchids Thai Cuisine & Notch Modern Kitchen & Bar.

Garden of Health Produce, Weavers Way Coop, and Beaver Brook Ranch donated all of the food the chefs used in The Bee’s Knees Culinary Competition. When the 45-minute cooking time ended, the competitors put their hands in the air and delivered their plates to the judges’ table. Chef “Steek” Kevin Cooper, Tony Luke Jr. and The Wellness Kitchenista Jessica DeLuise enjoyed sampling the three dishes and gave scores out of 20 points in the following categories: Presentation, Taste/Craveability, Creativity, Technique, and Low Waste (use of the entire ingredient). 

Chef Reuben Asaram and The Philly Sports Guy Jamie Paglieli made The Philly Reuben Special — strip steak corn salad sopes with a smoked beet cumin sauce. The steaks were marinated in pawpaw (basket item), kombucha (basket item), soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and spices. The corn salad had the hemp seeds (basket item), mayo, herbs, spices and pepperoncinis. The sopes were made with masa that was seasoned and salted. 

Chef Jeff Neuman and Cheryl “Cappuchino” Hayden (iHeartradio) made Pawpaw Caramelle with brown hemp heart butter and kombucha syrup. Making pasta from scratch in under 45 minutes was a feat to behold! 

Chef Jessica Erin Byers and Chetna Macwan made a Mediterranean Kabob Meatball with a pawpaw smoky red sauce, seared eggplant, and cucumber yogurt. The meatball was made with turmeric, fresh ginger, garlic, salt, cayenne pepper, minced onion, garam masala, dried fenugreek, ground cumin, whole cumin seed, hemp seeds, and finely diced carrot stems/leaves. It was on top of eggplant slices cooked with salt and pepper and then served with two sauces. The entire dish was topped with caramelized onions and chopped carrot leaves.

Byers and Macwan won the competition, with the judges declaring their meatballs “an explosion of flavor.” They were awarded a gift bag of prizes from Stateside Vodka, White Horse Winery, Eden Organics and Spa, and ReCap Mason Jars. 

The evening wound to a close as the guests enjoyed chatting with the chefs, photos at the selfie station, and taking home old-fashioned candies in a mason jar. All proceeds from the event directly benefit the Stroud Center’s freshwater research, environmental education, and watershed restoration.

Until the next time we don our glad rags, enjoy the wonderful photos by Jana Bannan Photography (a few in the video, below left; many more in this online album) and the highlight video (below right) courtesy of Rival Productions!