Santa Paula Times

Paty Winters (above left) swept the Best of VC Marketplace recipe contest, taking both the grand prize and the People’s Choice awards for her Caribbean Blaze Pork Bites. Following close behind were first runner-up Annelie Lindberg (top right) and her Zen and Berries Meringue Cream, and second runner-up Andrea Robles (bottom right) with Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes. (Photos by Leticia Mattson and Bob Muschitz)

Winters’ Caribbean Blaze Pork Bites a spicy hit, wins Best of VC contest

April 11, 2012
Santa Paula News

In spite of talk of vegan diets and dietary restrictions it was pork, the other white meat, that took the top prize for Santa Paula resident Paty Winters at the premiere Best of VC Marketplace Recipe Contest. Winters’ Caribbean Blaze Pork Bites with Tequila-Avocado-Mango Salsa was a double hit, taking not only the top prize in judging but also the People’s Choice Award. 

Held at the Limoneira Pavilion, about one dozen cooks entered the contest, which had a requirement set by Best of VC Marketplace owner Talia Wunder that each recipe feature an item purchased at the North Main Street boutique.

Invited to judge were artist/gardener/cook/rancher Susan Petty; Allison Costa, freelance food writer and owner of Ventura Food Tours, LLC.; baker extraordinaire Peggy Russell; Jim Rice, a consultant for restaurants and bar concepts; Jason Collis, chef owner of Plated Events; and Adrien Nieto of “MasterChef” cable television show fame.

Spencer Makenzie’s Fish Company’s Caribbean Blaze Hot Sauce - stocked by Wunder - was the secret sauce for Winters’ pork bites entry, her first foray into the world of competitive cooking. “I started testing it in January,” said Winters, and she suspected she had a winner when she took the snack to a Super Bowl party and someone asked where the pork bites were purchased. 

“I made variations of this going back several years” while perfecting the hot sauce. Or rather, spicy sauce: “We like it spicy,” said Winters; and the cup holding the pork was not the pastry that several people guessed at, but rather cutout flower shaped tortilla circles.

Even before learning she won First Place - and the $300 Grand Prize - Winters said entering the competition was “fun.... And I like helping Talia out.”

Annelie Lindberg was 1st Runner-up with her Zen and Berries Meringue Cream, made with Lourdes Gourmet Oxnard Strawberry Jam; Andrea Robles’ Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes were 2nd Runner-up and made with Lourdes Gourmet Dulce de Leche. Both Lindberg and Robles were awarded gift baskets for their placing entries.