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Roasted pork mole pupusas, carne asada tacos, red velvet cake and baklava.
These dishes were among the winners at the Colorado Department of Human Services’ third annual Great CDHS Cook-Off on July 19 at the Wheat Ridge Regional Center, 6225 Simms St.
“In our department, we have the privilege of caring for all kinds of folks including children, veterans, and people with mental health issues,” said Reggie Bicha, executive director of the department of human services. “This event is a chance to for us to show how much we care about chefs and dietitians at our facilities.”
For the cooking competition, chefs and dietitians from 14 different humans services facilities all over Colorado, including Mount View Youth Services Center, Adams Youth Services Center, and Veterans Community Living Center at Fitzsimons, gathered at the Arvada location to prepare dishes they regularly cook for their clients.
“We’re very excited to be hosting this year, because it means our staff and residents get to meet people from all over the state,” said Dawn Jacobs, director of the Wheat Ridge Regional Center. “It’s a great program for our staff to participate in, and we all get to eat some great food.”
A panel of judges including Bicha, Tony Gherardini and Melissa Wavelet from the department, as well as Noel Brennan, 9News journalist, and Allyson Reedy, Denver Post food critic, picked the best dishes for special recognition.
James Cronin and Dina Lampropoulou with Mount View took the top prize for their baklava, a dish they often make for their youths around the holidays. Pueblo Youth Services took top dessert for its red velvet cake, Grand Mesa Youth Services received honorable mention for its carne asada tacos, Fitzsimons and Mount View tied for the spirit award, and Adams Youth took second place for its pupusas — a dish they learned for a youth at their facility from Honduras.
“We came up with this, and wanted to share it with other facilities,” said Colby Clements, food services manager at Adams. “Today is a lot of fun for us because we get to see what other places do.”
As staff wandered from station to station trying dishes, there were numerous exclamations of pleasures, and calls for a friend or colleague to dry the dish.
“Our chefs can trade recipes and see how much we all benefit from what they do, because the foundation to getting better is a good, nutritious meal,” Bicha said. “These folks work hard, and we want them to know how appreciated they are.”
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