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Superstarr campers shine in ‘Chopped’ contest

July 31, 2011
By ANITA HANABURGH , For The Leader Herald

Imagine you are a cook. Imagine you are a chef. You are given four ingredients. You must incorporate each item. You are told to make something delicious, nutritious and beautiful. You can use anything else in the pantry that you can find, but you are in a strange kitchen with an unknown store of ingredients. Furthermore, you are in an unfamiliar work space with unfamiliar utensils and strange ranges and, oh busboy, you have only one hour until your special dish is presented to a panel of waiting judges.

As you begin to sweat, the ingredients are revealed: a pint of fresh blueberries, a bunch of fresh fennel, boneless chicken breast and a bag of multicolored tortilla chips. Fun? Make this into something delicious and, did I mention, nutritious? But, have no fear, you will get some assistance. You will have a team. Help is on the way.

You are invited into the dining room to meet your team. There waiting for your leadership are your assistants - a group of five campers, from Nathan Littauers Summer Camp Superstarrs. Your team ranges in age from 5 to 14. You must now create, construct, cook, craft and present a celebrated something using four mismatched ingredients in a strange kitchen while engaging five kids. You are the chef. These eager newly appointed chefs wait for your wisdom and direction.

Article Photos

The judges try food at a recent cooking contest at Nathan Littauer Hospital’s Camp?Superstarrs at?Woodworth Park near Gloversville.
Photo submitted.

Camp Superstarrs gives children with health issues the opportunity like other kids to go to summer camp. The brainchild of Nathan Littauer Hospital, Wayne McNeill and Dr. Clough, Camp Superstars educates "campers" about their individual health condition and helps them gain awareness about the causes. Using entertaining activities the camp helps each camper manage their situation. Directed by the vivacious Sue McNeil, for 32 years the camp has brought summer entertainment to children who might ordinarily be excluded from camp because of asthma, diabetes, eating disorders or others issues. The camp is held for two weeks at Woodworth Lake's Boy Scout Camp and provides medical support, education and, mostly fun.

"Fun" like a recent cooking contest based on the television show "Chopped" and produced by the "Chefs" from Nathan Littauer's Sodexo food service and Hannaford food Stores.

The contest has begun. Team Forte, Team Norris, Team Hughes and Team Tambasco are on the clock. One team is rendezvousing on the porch, planning its masterpiece. Another is getting out its equipment. Pots and pans are flying off the shelves. One team is washing and sanitizing its hands. Another is donning plastic gloves while members discuss their tasks. The kitchen is buzzing as the king bees guide their workers in the culinary hive. The judges look on as judges? Oh yes, there are judges for this First Annual Camp Superstarrs "Chopped" Contest.

The judges are: Yours truly, Anita ala carte; Dr. Frederick Goldberg, the chief medical officer at Nathan Littauer; Dr. David Clough and Wayne McNeil, the co-founders of Camp Superstarrs. We are all very qualified as we are all very hungry.

The hour hurries by. Kids are crushing chips in zip lock bags. Kids are mashing blueberries with potato mashers. Kids are coating chicken. Chefs are slicing fennel. Time is running out. The worker bees keep the work space neat, removing dirty dishes and wiping counters. The food is tested, tasted then arranged. Announcer Sue McNeil (Camp Superstarrs is a family affair) announces the progress and, towards the end, sends the judges to the judges' table. The teams are plating their final masterpiece.

What masterpieces they are! The teams come to the table one at a time. Team number one places a plate in from of each judge. It has pasta in a fennel sauce, chicken with a blueberry sauce, crushed chips on the top. It is yummy. Team two has the chicken breast with apples and pineapple added to a fennel sauce, some blueberries as a garnish and orzo on the side. Very good. Number three had a crispy crust made of chips and reduced blueberries coating tender chicken. It was surrounded by a salad of julienned fennel and apples. It is good. The last and not least even has a name "Chippy Chicken." It has potatoes added to its flavors of chips, blueberries and fennel. Oh busboy, it's all so tasty.

The judge's job is to pick a winner, hard to do when more than 20 eager young faces are staring at you in anticipation. But the announcer says we have to choose just one. We use the judge's form: Use of ingredients - 10 points, flavor - 10 point, creativity and appearance - 10 points. We taste and talk and we reluctantly pick team three. Oh it was great, with its crisp salad and juicy chicken, but the others were great too. The teams seemed to accept the decision. Team one, two and four vow to win next year. This judge is pretty full.

A fun time was definitely had by all.




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