Sean Conlin, a former Niagara County 4-Her from Lockport, recently took third place in the Chuck Wagon Challenge to benefit the Double H Ranch in Lake Luzerne, N.Y.
Sean's wife, Amanda, suggested he enter the contest that she saw on the Internet for a creative southwestern appetizer. His original recipe for "Tumbleweeds" can be viewed on his contest entry YouTube video.
"I learned how to cook as a 4-Her in Niagara County many years ago, and as I got older I got more comfortable changing ingredients and creating my own recipes," he said.
Food contests and demonstrations are nothing new to Conlin as he gave several foods demonstrations as a youngster, even being selected to participate in District 4-H contests in Rochester.
Conlin's Tumbleweed concoction, made from a mixture of rice, ground chicken, corn, beans, peppers, onion and spices, was judged by industry professionals based on creativity, suitability of a southwestern theme, originality, simplicity, taste, texture, flavor, best use of local products and a creative video presentation.
Upon becoming one of five finalists, Conlin traveled to Lake George where he was paired with sous chef David Britton, managing partner of the Saratoga Polo Catering and Events and the Springwater Bistro. Britton can be seen on "Dinner Impossible" on the Food Network. Conlin worked with Britton at the end of June to prepare the Tumbleweeds for 700 people attending the Double H Annual Fundraising Gala. The attendees tasted and voted on the winning recipes.
The Double H Ranch was co-founded by another Lockportian and self-made philanthropist Charles R. Wood and actor Paul Newman to provide year-round free programs and support for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.
"It was coincidental that I met Mr. Wood a few years ago when (he) was working in Glens Falls. What a small world that he was from Lockport and I would enter a contest to support his work in the Adirondacks," Conlin said.
Conlin plans to demonstrate his Tumbleweeds at the Niagara County Fair on Friday, Aug. 3, in the 4-H Training Center in celebration of 75 Years of 4-H programming in Niagara County. The fair schedule can be found at www.niagaracountyfair.org.