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Employes produce tasty treats at annual bake-off

Banana bread bars win over lemon pie variation and "Smacos"

staff writer

Published: Thursday, February 13, 2014

Updated: Thursday, February 13, 2014 00:02

bake-off

Madeline Payne photo

Mickelle Anderson and Lisa Hathaway present their award-winning dessert, "Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting."


Mickelle Anderson and Lisa Hathaway were named the winners of the annual Dining Services Cook-Off on Wednesday in The Hub.

The Cook-Off was held in The Pit, adjacent to The Hub, from 11 a.m. to noon. It was sponsored by USU Dining Services and Campus Catering and had a pastry theme.

“This is an example of an event … that is fun and creates involvement on campus,” said Alan Anderson, executive director of Dining Services.

The contest began earlier this year with a call for submissions. Thirty people applied to enter the competition with three recipes being selected for the finale.

At the beginning of the event, 50 people were chosen at random from the Hub to taste test each desert. After tasting the three dishes, each person would then cast his or her vote for their favorite. This formed the People’s Choice Award.

During the event, each dish was presented by its creator or creators. The dish and presentation were all judged by a panel of three based on four criteria: presentation of the dish, “gar-de-manger” - kitchen skills-, taste and the cooking demonstration. The dish with the best overall score was awarded with the Judge’s Choice.

Mickelle Anderson and Hathaway, who both work with the Human Resources department, worked as a team to develop a desert called “Banana Bread Bars with a Brown Butter Frosting.” They won both the People’s Choice and the Judge’s Choice Awards for the dish.

“Butter is the essential ingredient,” said Mickelle Anderson, referencing celebrity chef Paula Deen’s mantra.

Tara Johnson, assistant to the head of the nutrition, dietetics and food sciences department, produced a dessert called, “Sour Cream Lemon Pie.” This confection had a shortbread cookie crust, a layer of raspberry preserves, another layer of lemon pudding and a dollop of whipped cream.

Johnson said she developed her desert as a way to bridge her husband’s love and her dislike for lemon meringue pie. She also said she normally uses a store-bought pie crust in preparing the dish.

“I always have to make a few of these pies for Thanksgiving. It’s everyone’s favorite,” Johnson said.

Benjamin McCullock, a USU student and self-proclaimed lover of food, brought a recipe he called “Smacos,” a fusion of a taco/quesadilla and a s’more. He first made the dish with his Dad while they were camping. He said it soon became a favorite of his local scout troop.

“It’s really easy to make and cheap,” said McCullock during the demonstration of his cooking process.

The panel of judges was made up of three people with differing backgrounds. Steve Wright is the head baker for the campus bakery. He also assisted the contestants in making the 150 samples they each provided. Jacquelyn Jones, a science education major, was selected as a judge for her winning dish in the College of Agriculture Cook-Off. Paul Purser, a senior in global communications and member of the Nontraditional Student Association, was last year’s winner and also served as a guest judge.

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