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Rawlings-Blake victorious in United Way healthy cooking contest

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz hosted a set of powerful peers for a healthy cooking competition at the Hunt Valley Wegmans Wednesday, but home field advantage wasn't enough to top his counterpart from Baltimore City.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake topped a field including Kamenetz, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, and Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman in the first ever Executive Showdown Healthy Food Cook-off, an event promoting simple, nutritious meals for the area's residents in need.

"It was a great time," Rawlings-Blake's partner, chef Cindy Wolf of Baltimore's Wolf Foreman Restaurants, said. "She was out to win it. She's a great spirit, and I really enjoyed it."

Each elected official was teamed with a local chef and given 30 minutes to prepare a simple, tasty meal from a selection of fresh products from Wegmans.

Rawlings-Blake and Wolf took top honors with a meal of chicken breasts sauteed in grape seed oil with mushrooms, over a salad of garbanzo beans in virgin olive oil with spinach and dandelion greens.

Ulman and his teammate, chef Tony Foreman, finished second with their warm salad of chicken, fennel, dandelion greens and onions. Neuman, who was teamed with Wegmans chef Kevin Grenzig, and Kamenetz, who teamed with Evan Orser of McFaul's Ironhorse Tavern, tied for third.

Kamenetz, who said his previous experience in the kitchen was limited to doing the dishes, said he enjoyed working with the chef of McFaul's, one of the county's fastest-growing restaurants.

"I kind of had a fear of (cooking), I think," Kamenetz said. "I never took the time to cook and handle any of this, but working with

The politicians were mostly relegated to chopping and grating vegetables, leaving the heavy lifting to those who said they deal with cooking healthy meals every day.

"We provide a good, healthy place for people to eat," Wolf said. "All of the restaurants (in our group) cook seasonally, and cook with the healthiest products we possibly can. That's what it's all about, working seasonally and working within our concept."

The event was one of several scheduled for the United Way's Families Living United Healthy Food Week, which began Friday May 3 and ends Saturday, May 11. Healthy Food Week will culminate with a food drive Saturday, when residents can leave food donations at their mailbox to be picked up by letter carriers.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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