grown monmouth chef sharon kircherPHOTO: Chef Sharon Kircher of Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park competes in the Grown in Monmouth Culinary Competition on Oct. 17 in Asbury Park, NJ.

ASBURY PARK, NJ – The first-ever Grown in Monmouth Culinary Competition with food products exclusively grown, harvested, raised, bottled and brewed in Monmouth County took place on Monday, October 17 at the Asbury Park Culinary School.

The competition-style event pits three teams of Monmouth County food enthusiasts, each including a professional chef, a Brookdale Community College (BCC) culinary student and a Monmouth County Vocational School District (MCVSD) culinary student, against each other as they competed for medals and bragging rights as the first winners of the Grown in Monmouth Culinary Competition.

grown monmouth chefsPHOTO: Local celebrity judges join the three competing teams who were awarded gold, silver and bronze medals at the Grown in Monmouth Culinary Competition on Oct. 17 in Asbury Park, NJ. Pictured left to right: Gold medal team members Sean Yim of Howell, Chef Sharon Kircher of Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park and Chelsea Mandes of Eatontown; Chef Andrew Araneo, local celebrity judge and owner of Drew’s Bayshore Bistro in Keyport; Bronze medal team member Erin Cotterell of Lincroft; Chef Emily Chapman, local celebrity judge and executive sous chef at Pasquale Jones in New York City; Bronze medal team members Chef Wendy Escobedo of Kula Cafe in Asbury Park and Giana Lupo of Middletown; Chef Erik Witherspool, local celebrity judge and executive chef at Monmouth University for Gourmet Dining Services who also  oversees culinary operations for Monmouth Race Park; and Silver medal team members Tyler Berman of Manalapan, Chef Oleg Scorpan of Yvonne's in Neptune and David Ardizzone of Ocean Township.

The teams were presented with a basket of Monmouth County ingredients and created an appetizer, entrée and dessert course for consideration and tasting by panel of three local celebrity judges. Contestants were provided with the following ingredients to utilize for their creations:

  • Trapper’s Honey – Clarksburg (Millstone)
  • Cream Ridge Winery Plum Wine – Cream Ridge
  • Screamin Hill Brewery Pumpkin Beer – Cream Ridge
  • Renee Stillwell Pork Chops, Bacon and Sausage – Cream Ridge
  • Belford Seafood Co-op Little Neck Clams – Belford
  • Pinhas Farm Potatoes, Garlic scape and Peppers – Millstone
  • R.J. Laurino Farms Butternut Squash – Colts Neck
  • Beyond Organics Growers Hydroponic Lettuce and Herbs - Howell
  • Eastmont Orchards Apples – Colts Neck
  • Bruins Farm Blackberries and Blackberry Juice – Cream Ridge
  • 4JGs Winery Vidal Blanc Wine – Colts Neck
  • Rutgers Fruit Experiment Station, Apples and Hazelnuts –Upper Freehold

The Gold Medal winning team members were Chef Sharon Kircher of Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park and culinary students Sean Yim (BCC) of Howell and Chelsea Mandes (MCVSD) of Eatontown. The Silver Medal team members were Chef Oleg Scorpan of Yvonne's in Neptune and culinary students Tyler Berman (BCC) of Manalapan, and David Ardizzone (MCVSD) of Ocean Township. The Bronze Medal winning team members were Chef Wendy Escobedo of Kula Cafe in Asbury Park and culinary students Erin Cotterell (BCC) of Lincroft and Giana Lupo (MCVSD) of Middletown.

Medals were presented to each of the competitors by Freeholder Deputy Director Serena DiMaso, BCC President Dr. Maureen Murphy and MCVSD Superintendent Timothy McCorkle.

The Grown in Monmouth competition judges included Chef Emily Chapman, executive sous chef at Pasquale Jones in New York City; Chef Erik Witherspool, executive chef at Monmouth University for Gourmet Dining Services who also oversees culinary operations for Monmouth Race Park; and Chef Andrew Araneo, owner of Drew’s Bayshore Bistro in Keyport. Chef Chapman and Chef Witherspool are Chopped Champions and Chef Araneo is a Bobby Flay Throwdown winner.

Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone and Freeholder Lillian G. Burry kicked-off the Grown in Monmouth program earlier this year. “Grown in Monmouth is the newest initiative under our Grow Monmouth program,” said Arnone. “This project continues to focus on strengthening all facets of Monmouth County’s agricultural industry and promoting locally grown products. This event marks the harvest season and restates the County’s commitment to assist local and small businesses.”

“This exciting competition has brought added recognition to growers throughout Monmouth County, an important component of the Grown in Monmouth program, said Burry, liaison to the Monmouth County Vocational School District. “We will continue our efforts to promote the local agricultural community and look forward to continued events such as this, as we work to help local farms and the entire agricultural community to prosper and thrive.”

Freeholder DiMaso, liaison to the Monmouth County Superintendent of Schools, shared, “This was a fun and exciting event that recognized the importance of the agricultural industry in Monmouth County. We would like to thank all those that participated and look forward to future events like this that will showcase Monmouth County growers.”

For more information on Grown in Monmouth, visit www.growninmonmouth.com or call 732-431-7470.