Saturday afternoon featured one of the 59th annual Niagara County Peach Festival's highlight events: the peach recipe "Taste Off." Children and adults competed together on the Academy Park bandshell stage, making everything from pies and cakes to trifles and savory dishes.
Niagara County Community College hospitality, tourism and culinary arts division Chairman Mark Mistriner headed the panel of judges. After much deliberation, the final vote went to Diane Tubridy, who created a "peach 'smash' parfait." She won the overall "Food Enthusiast" category.
Kiria Gonka won the category for children and teens under 13. She crafted "cheesie peachie chimichangas."
Rachael Gifford won the culinary student category with her peach lattice pie.
In total, more than a dozen entries vied for the top prize.
Each culinary contestant received a prize bag with items from local merchants.
The 2016 "Taste Off" was sponsored by the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, the Niagara Gazette and Niagara Frontier Publications.
As the judges were evaluating the competition, a peach shortcake-eating contest took place, and pitted media members Nate Benson of WGRZ-TV Channel 2, Tom Puckett of WBEN-AM 930 and Joshua Maloni of Niagara Frontier Publications against New York Kiwanis Club Gov. Elect Steve Sirgiovanni and Town of Lewiston Supervisor Steve Broderick. The challenge was to eat the festival's signature dessert in the fastest time. Broderick won, with a time of one minute and 50 seconds.
Pictured, from left: Diane Tubridy, Rachael Gifford and Kiria Gonka.
Diane Tubridy and her first-place dish.
Kiria Gonka with her award-winning chimichangas.
Acclaimed celebrity chefs Ginger McNally, left, and Lori Caso.
Two of the younger contestants: cousins Cerulean Van Every with "Cerulean's Delight," and Salvatore Morreale with "Salvatore's Pecan Mini Peach Pies."
A sampling of peach dishes.
Eating contest contestants Steve Broderick and Nate Benson.
Eating contest contestant Steve Sirgiovanni.
Eating contest contestants Tom Puckett, left, and Joshua Maloni.
Your winner: Steve Broderick.
(Contest photos by Bob Koshinski)