Nittany Lion Inn chef wins award at Golden Basket chefs competition

Tuesday, Aug. 6 was an exceptionally busy day at the Boalsburg Farmer’s Market as nine local chefs competed in the third annual Golden Basket Competition. Penn State chef Jamison Steffen of the Nittany Lion Inn won the award for best dessert, and also placed second overall in the event for his meal preparation.

Steffen, who won the overall award in 2012, finds immense value in participating in local events. He has also participated in Taste of the Town and Chefs on Stage.

“It’s a good thing for our community,” said Steffen. “It increases awareness of the farmer’s markets and is an opportunity to let people know we are active locally. Most of the time the people who work behind the scenes in the kitchen don’t get to interact with people.”

Five members of the Nittany Lion Inn kitchen staff who work with Steffen also came to the event in Boalsburg, which is just a few miles down Atherton Street from the Nittany Lion Inn. They not only offered help and support to Steffen, but also spent time interacting with the public talking about the inn and its food.

The competition requires the participating chefs to create an entrée, side dish, salad and dessert with 90-95 percent of their ingredients coming from the farmer’s market. After visiting the farmer’s market the week before, Steffen discovered the key ingredient for his desserts.

“The plums that Way Fruit Farm had were so perfect,” said Steffen. “They were at the peak of the season.”

Steffen went on to create four different desserts using the plums, including plum and thyme sorbet, plum gelato, a plum and berry cobbler, and a frozen plum soufflé.

Steffen’s other dishes were also quite delicious. He made a smoked porchetta, which is a pork loin with the pork belly still attached, and stuffed it with garlic, shallots, rosemary and thyme. His fennel soubice consisted of caramelized fennel sauce pureed with butter and cream, while his green beans and banana peppers were made with garlic, dill, shallots and a little lemon juice. Steffen also made confit tomatoes, which he slow poached in olive oil for 45 minutes, and tallegio carbonara using pappardelle pasta, bacon, sage and shallots, and a Tallegio cheese sauce.

“All my dishes were very straightforward,” said Steffen. “I wanted to let the food speak for itself. I was also aiming to give the public a range of things to see and help them realize what they can do with items found at the farmer’s market.”

Steffen admits participating in the chef’s competition is challenging, especially with limited on-site facilities. However, he feels strongly about participating in community events. He has plans to compete again next year and hopes to reappear among the winners for the third straight time.  

 

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Last Updated August 20, 2013