A local cooking competition is underway across Centre County. The Golden Basket’s first qualifying round was on Saturday at the North Atherton Farmers Market, and the competition hopes to bring attention to locally grown food in Central Pennsylvania.
Travis Lesser is the executive director of Appalachian Food Works, a non-profit that’s trying to give communities greater access to locally grown ingredients. Lesser said this competition is a great way for people to taste the delicious foods grown in their backyard.
“You think whatever you get from the big box stores or the grocery store, whatever comes out of the freezer case, is fresh and it’s not. It really puts a focus on how much better fresh food is for you, too. You feel better when you eat fresh food,” Lesser said.
For each qualifying round, two competitors are given $100 to spend at the farmers market. Their dishes must be completely local. Then farmers market attendees can sample the dishes and vote. The winner of each qualifying round then advances to the final on Saturday at the MLK Plaza.
Lesser said a competition like this can give locals more exposure to local producers and help increase their sales.
“So, basically, our goals here are to help put the small to midsize farmers into a more sustainable business model, to give them another sales channel,” Lesser said.
The final on Saturday is not just about naming a winner for the competition. Lesser said local restaurants have teamed up to cater the event.
"If you like food, beer, music, and standing outside and having a good time with friends, then I think you should come,” Lesser said.
Correction: This story originally contained errors in the name and web address for Appalachian Food Works.