Meet the 2015-2016 CSA Smackdown Winners
On January 20th, Jimmy Carbone and Matt Timms emceed Just Food’s 2015-2016 CSA Smackdown at Brooklyn’s The Bell House to crown the most creative cooks from Just Food’s CSA network. Teams representing Yorkville, Katchkie Farm, Grand Street, Sunset Park, and Mid-Island/South Shore CSAs were given 30 minutes and a mystery CSA share to create a winning seasonal dish. After an electric and energetic competition, judges Andrea Beaman, Sawdayah Brownlee, Anne Saxelby, and Matt Eisenman declared Grand Street CSA member Rachel Mirensky and cooking partner Anthony Broderick the winners.
The team turned an ingredient list including kale, carrots, beets, wild chickweed, butternut squash, potatoes and salad turnips into savory pancakes topped with greens, candied butternut squash, pickles and and a micro-green chimichurri that stole the hearts and stomachs of the judges.
The competition marked the first time the pair had cooked together. Anthony was a replacement for Rachel’s original partner who--just days before-- dropped out of the competition.
During the Smackdown, Rachel felt the pressure of living up to the legacy of last year’s winners and fellow Grand Street CSA members, Julie Ulmet and Stephanie Schumm. Rachel concentrated her nervous energy on mixing and sautéing while Anthony played the role of cheerleader, offering high fives between chops to Rachel and their competitors.
Both Rachel and Anthony grew up cooking. Anthony frequently engages in cooking competitions with his friends, which he claims he usually wins. A three month resident of NYC, Anthony has had joining CSA on his radar. “What these CSAs do is beautiful, they inspire people to become involved in community work, something I’m looking forward to getting involved in with my friends.”
Rachel grew up in Long Island and spent time cooking and baking with her grandmother. Rachel’s love of cooking and passion for farmers’ rights led her to join a CSA in New York, where she has lived for 13 years.
Grand Street CSA is Rachel’s second CSA. She is also a member of the core group and helps coordinate distribution and add new farms and local products. Rachel and her CSA also work with neighborhood organizations to promote CSA and donate extra produce. For Rachel, her CSA is both a way to connect with her neighbors, who she otherwise wouldn't know, and to support local farmers. “CSA allows farmers to produce what they do, by providing them the seed money to take care of up-front expenses. The government makes decisions that often do not have the farmers’ best interests in mind. CSA is a good way to support local farms and food ventures.”