On Dec. 14, a project six weeks in the making came together for the South Florida District of Truly Nolen Pest Control when six of our service offices staged the first-ever “Bring-It” Culinary Contest. Team members from West Broward, Key Largo, Central Miami, South Miami, North Miami, and Pompano Beach competed at the Central Miami service office to determine who had supreme cooking skills.
The contest was the brainchild of longtime South Florida District Quality Assurance Manager Maurice Brown, who was looking to do something unique for the holidays. He created a format where each service office would be able to create one signature dish, plus an appetizer or dessert. He also convinced Trey Aldridge, a team member and certified chef, to be the contest’s inaugural judge. This move gave the contest instant credibility among the company’s South Florida team members, which in turn led to the following eclectic range of entries:
- West Broward: Lasagna
- Key Largo: Oxtail with Rice and Beans, and Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Central Miami: Shrimp and Grits, and Balsamic Barbecue Ribs
- South Miami: Pescado a lo Macho, and Causa Rellena a la Limena
- North Miami: Arroz Con Pollo, and Pecan Pie
- Pompano Beach: Peruvian Ceviche with Shrimp and Pork Slices, and Aka Thai Beef Salad
After some fierce judging by Chef Trey, along with tastings by the team members in attendance, winners were selected. First place went to South Miami’s Louis Solano, who slayed with his amazing Peruvian cuisine. Second place went to Key Largo, with Michael Pazos’ tasty Oxtail as well as Brad Kunkel’s delicious dessert.
Brown said he was blown away by the quality and depth of the contest entries, and hopes to make this first-ever contest a recurring team building activity in South Florida — and potentially throughout the company’s districts. Of course, Chef Trey may drop the gauntlet next year by abdicating his judging role so he can enter something himself!
Recipes of our Winners:
Pescado a lo Macho by Luis Solano, Team 081 South Miami
Ingredients: Tilapia, Seafood mix, Rice, Cilantro, Parsley, Salt, Pepper, Tomato, Red onion, Red Peruvian pepper (Aji Panca), Yellow Peruvian pepper (Aji Amarillo), Garlic, Oil, Milk, White wine, Egg, Cumin (Comino), Complete seasoning
- Heat the oil in a large pan.
- Add onions and shrimp skin, cook until tender.
- Add tomatoes, Aji Panca, Aji Amarillo, and cook, mixing it for a few minutes.
- Add wine, and cook to a boil.
- Add complete seasoning, salt and pepper.
- Add seafood mix wait to boil, and add some milk.
- Let sauce rest.
- Dip tilapia on raw egg and fry the fish.
- Place fish on dish, pour seafood mix sauce on top of fish, spread cilantro on top.
Note: Can be eaten with white rice and dip fried-half potatoes.
Causa Rellena a la Limena by Luis Solano, Team 081 South Miami
Ingredients: Yellow potato, Yellow pepper (Peruvian Aji Amarillo), Black pepper, Salt, Lime juice, Tuna, Mayo, Milk, Cilantro, Shrimp, Olives, Celery, Red Onion, Oil, Spinach leaves (for garnish), Egg
- Place whole potatoes in a pot of cold water and bring it to boil. When they are fork tender, remove from water, let cool, peel skin, and use a masher to break down potatoes until smooth.
- Remove seeds from the aji Amarillo, and puree with oil and green lime juice until you have a bright orange, thick liquid.
- Pour aji mixture into potatoes and combine thoroughly until the potatoes develop a yellow tint. If potatoes are too dry, add oil or lime juice. Add salt to season.
- Chop celery and onions to be mixed with tuna, pepper, salt, and mayo in a bowl.
- Layer potatoes on the bottom, then spread tuna mixture for the middle layer, and top with the final layer of potatoes.
- Mix mayo with milk and smear on top.
- Boil an egg and chop to very small pieces, and also spread on top of mayo already on top of mayo mix.
- Fry shrimp on butter and place on top with an olive.
- Garnish with cilantro and spinach.
Oxtail with Rice and Beans by Michael Pazos, Team 072 Key Largo
4 lbs. Oxtail
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Parsley
1 Tsp. Cilantro
1 Tsp. Oregano
2 Tsp. Black pepper
2 Tbsp. Flour
1-2 Yellow onion
1 Yellow pepper
5-7 Garlic cloves
2 Bay leaves
2 Cups Unsalted chicken stock
3 Tbsp. Tomato paste
- Trim fat from oxtail, season with salt and flour.
- Brown oxtail in pot for five minutes and remove.
- Add pepper/onion/garlic to pot and soften.
- Combine tomato paste and spices, add to pot.
- Add oxtail and chicken stock.
- Bring to boil, then simmer for about four hours or until fall off the bone!
Pumpkin Cheesecake by Brad Kunkel, Team 072 Key Largo
Crust: 1.5 c graham cracker crumbs, 0.25 c light brown sugar, 6 tbsp. melted margarine
Filling: 3 pkg (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened; 0.5 c granulated sugar, 1 c light brown sugar, 4 large eggs, 1 can (1 lb.) pumpkin, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 0.5 tsp. ginger, 0.25 tsp. cloves, 0.25 cup heavy cream
Nutty Topping: 6 tbsp. unmelted margarine, 1 c light brown sugar, 1 c chopped pecans
Crust: Toss crust ingredients together; press firmly and evenly over bottom and up side of lightly buttered 9-inch springform pan. Chill.
Filling: Beat cream cheese until very smooth with electric mixer. Gradually add sugars, beating until well mixed. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in pumpkin, spices, and 0.25 cup heavy cream. Pour into prepared pan. Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for one hour and 40 minutes.
Topping: Prepare while baking the filling. Combine margarine with sugar, mixing until crumbly. Blend in nuts.
At the end of baking time, remove cake from oven and sprinkle with topping; bake an additional 10 minutes. Cool cake, then refrigerate several hours or overnight. Garnish with whipped cream.