Quick Bites: Rush to get tickets to tasting event

A show like "Chopped" on the Food Network is a fun way to kill a half-hour — watching as chefs create something edible (usually) from a secret basket of disparate ingredients. But when the judges start raving about a dish, don't you just want to taste it?

It's the same magic that's behind the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auctionevery year, and it's coming to Rushford in a couple of weeks for their fourth annual ExpoCulinaria. The event will be held on May 17, from 5 to 9 p.m.

The event started as a chef competition, a highly entertaining and high-stakes affair, scored by a panel of judges. After hearing how much attendees would like to taste the gourmet dishes, organizers this year switched up the format — as well as moving the date up to springtime to celebrate the coming summer (and grilling season).

"It's going to be much different than past years' events, and more in line with the ExpoCulinaria logo, which states, 'an experience of taste,'" said Terri Benson, ExpoCulinaria Committee chair. "There will be a huge variety of dishes to sample and wines to taste."

Minneapolis favorite Butcher and the Boardonated meat for the event — fitting becauseButcher's head chef, Peter Botcher, was a chef at the first ExpoCulinaria. (He's a butcher named Botcher! Get it? Bet he's never heard that one before.)


Mary Mylnczak, an award-winning food artisan from Winona, will be demonstrating several dishes made from Butcher and the Boar meats, including a spicy bratwurst with Dijon fondue and caramelized onion; regular bratwurst topped with homemade sauerkraut and sesame ginger mustard sauce; cheesy bratwurst fired in beer batter with chipotle aioli; and finally, chocolate pots de creme, a recipe from Mylnczak's grandmother's recipe book.

To showcase all the area has to offer, an ExpoCulinaria ticket also gets you samples from a wide array of Rushford-Peterson restaurants and eateries. This includes Shawnee's Bar and Grillserving a chicken burrito with hot chile sauce; there will be barbeque ribs and ice cream from The Creamery Pizza and Ice Cream; Rushford Foods' cateringis serving grilled brisket and cheesecake for dessert; Lynndyn Bridge Restaurantis baking some of their amazing pies, and Norsland Lefseis providing lefse appetizers.

"You'll be able to experience lefse in all the different ways you can prepare it — not just the butter-and-sugar way," Benson said.

Local liquor stores are supplying the wine, along with Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery, and local brews will be available from Pearl Street Breweryin La Crosse, Wis., and Winona Breweryin Winona.

Your ticket gets you into the event at the historic Hoiland Mill, along with a wine-tasting glass and commemorative appetizer plate that you can rest atop your wine glass for mingling and eating. (Genius.) There also will be door prizes from the participating restaurants, including coupons and other giveaways, Benson said.

"For a small town, Rushford has a lot of different choices," she said. "ExpoCulinaria is a great chance to try many different places, then come back other times and see what each place has to offer."

If you're interested in attending, act now: There are only 150 tickets available, and they're just $18 through Saturday. Starting on Sunday, tickets will be $25. Get your ticket at Rushford Foods, or online at .

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