By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
It was like a scene out of Iron Chef. Splayed out across a table was a pile of colorful fresh produce: cauliflower in shades of green, purple and orange, spears of verdant asparagus, potatoes in brown, white and purple, red ripe tomatoes, vivid orange carrots and more. Nearby lay piles of fresh shrimp, scallops and redfish. On another table stood small cups of spices, from salt and pepper, to anise, as well as sample sized bottles of various cooking oils, vinegars and more.
The day was hot, but beneath the shade of a gazebo-like picnic area adjacent to the beach at the Pearl South Padre Hotel, the sea breeze kept things comfortably cool. The tables weren’t filled with guests, however, but with chefs and cooks who eagerly eyed the table of ingredients. To one side of the shaded area, over half a dozen gas-powered hot plates stood at the ready with all the accoutrements a chef would need: pots, pans, grilles, knives and cutting boards.
The scene was the monthly meeting of the Rio Grande Valley Chapter of the Texas Chefs Association (TCA). This meeting included the added bonus of an impromptu “seafood throw down challenge,” as described by the organization’s assistant director, Dustin Stair.
“We are a professional organization of chefs, culinary arts students, bakers and our main focus is to work for education in the culinary arts as well as community service,” Stair said, explaining what the TCA is. “It’s an outlet for people to get out of their kitchens.”
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