Grass Valley firefighter wins cook-off in unanimous vote | TheUnion.com

Grass Valley firefighter wins cook-off in unanimous vote

Grass Valley Fire Capt. Chris Armstrong, with his assistant from Atria Senior Living, won a Celebrity Cook-Off last month.
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Grass Valley Fire Capt. Chris Armstrong dominated at a culinary throwdown last month, winning a “celebrity cook-off” by unanimous vote at Atria Senior Living.

Medical calls for service at residential care communities are a big part of the services provided by the fire department, Armstrong noted.

“We have a great working relationship,” he added. “They invite us over for a lot of stuff — we really try to stay involved with those communities.”

So when Patricia Harding, director of culinary services at Atria, called to ask for a firefighter to act as chef in the cooking contest on July 18, Armstrong was happy to volunteer.

“A lot of the guys know me as someone who enjoys doing cooking,” he said. “In fact, I cook at home most of the time.”

The only criteria was that the meal had to be prepared with peppers — a rule that Armstrong wasn’t aware of until just two days before the cook-off.

“I had to come up with an alternative at the last second,” he said.

But the meal he concocted on the fly obviously wowed the judges: slow-roasted baby back ribs with a homemade BBQ sauce, sautéed green beans and bell pepper with caramelized onions, and a twice baked potato. His competition, a resident of Atria, worked with staff to prepare a stuffed pepper. Armstrong also had an assistant, who prepped the ingredients ahead of time.

“We did do a cooking demo for the residents,” he said. “We had a half-hour to prep, served it to the judges and they judged it right on the spot.”

The five judges — two residents, the owner of the hair salon in the facility, the owner of a private in-home care services, and Linda Lucchesi of Lucchesi Winery — handed Armstrong the title in a 5-0 vote.

“They ended up serving my recipe to the residents for dinner,” a pleased Armstrong said.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email lizk@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.


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