CSU student chefs square off in cooking competition with Food Network host

Team high-fiving with Fuller

The Red Team celebrates while “Farmhouse Rules” host Nancy Fuller looks on. Photos by John Eisele

A handful of Colorado State University students got the rare opportunity to participate in a friendly cooking competition last week with Nancy Fuller, the host of the Food Network show “Farmhouse Rules.”

Paul Fritter cooking
Student contestant Paul Fritter

The Sept. 25 cook-off, held at The Cooking Studio in Fort Collins, featured six students — three on each team — from CSU’s Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Each team consisted of one food science graduate student, one hospitality management undergraduate student and one nutrition undergrad.

“We knew a team from our department was going to win, we just didn’t know which one,” joked Associate Professor Marisa Bunning, who helped organize the event. “This was a nice opportunity for FSHN students to showcase their food skills.”

Scoring system

Fuller and other invited judges used beans to vote for the team that made the best lemonade, deviled eggs and pasta dish. The team that had the most beans in its jar at the end of each of three rounds won for that round. The Red Team, consisting of Daniel Davila, Matt Nelson and Sarah Otto, narrowly won the competition overall, earning the most beans for its “Smoked Deviled Eggs with Pickled Onion” and “Carrot-Mushroom Ragu with Linguine.”

The Black Team, composed of Alyssa Rosenblum, Paul Fritter and Mackenzie Burgess made the winning beverage, “Lemonade Shandies with Citradelic Beer,” which bested the Red Team’s “Peach and Basil Lemonade.” The Black Team’s other dishes were “Loaded Deviled Eggs with Bacon and Cheese” and “Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta with Linguine.”

Close-up of dishes

In addition to Bunning, other department faculty on hand included Associate Professor Jeff Miller as well as Ken Symsack and Josh Olson of the Aspen Grille. Trish O’Neill, owner of The Cooking Studio, was the primary organizer of the event.

Fuller’s local faves

Fuller, who was in the region for the Sept. 29 “Fuller Farmer Harvest Festival” in Casper, Wyoming, signed copies of her cookbook, Farmhouse Rules, before the contest. She said she had enjoyed several delicious meals during her time in Fort Collins, singling out the steak tips at Still Whiskey Steaks and the fish and chips at the Cambria Suites.

The Farmhouse Rules television show on the Food Network is a lifestyle and cooking program centered on Fuller’s kitchen in her 18th-century farmhouse and the surrounding Hudson Valley in New York.

Ardent Mills donated all of the flour used in the competition, and Daddy Cakes provided appetizers. Gifts for the student participants were donated by Larimer County Farmers’ Market, the CSU BookStore, CSU Extension and The Cupboard.

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition is in CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.

The entire group

From left are Bunning, Rosenblum, Fritter, Burgess, Fuller, O’Neill, Davila, Otto, Nelson and student Emily Kearney, who assisted both teams.