Company cooks up colorful carrot contest

Geoff Parks/For the Capital Press A Numhems employee takes a selection of colored carrot spears during the company's fourth annual Colored Carrot Cook-Off at its plant in Brooks, Ore.

Employees prepare various dishes laden with company's signature product

By GEOFF PARKS

For the Capital Press

Onion breeder Rick Watson and seed health specialist James Dunning showed off their vegetable versatility as the big winners at Nunhems USA's recent Colored Carrot Cook-Off.

The light-hearted affair -- the fourth such event -- is a lunchtime potluck, food presentation and tasting contest held at Nunhems' Brooks, Ore., vegetable seed production plant. Nunhems is the vegetable seed business of Bayer CropScience.

At the Colored Carrot Cook-Off, employees of the Brooks plant create a side dish or salad, a main dish or a dessert that utilizes three types of carrots chosen from the company's five developed varieties -- purple, red, orange, yellow or white.

Around 40 dishes and desserts created by the employees dominated two tables in the lunchroom. They were judged by employees for visual presentation and best overall flavor. Separate prizes -- chosen by carrot breeder Roger Freeman -- were presented to the creators of the best main dish, best side dish and best dessert.

Freeman, the instigator of the event, said the cook-off has become an annual activity that generates a lot of interest at the plant.

"There's a lot of diversity in the flavors and the colors of these carrots, so we just like to see how creative (employees) can be with them," he said. "And everybody likes potlucks."

With all employees having a say in who won the four presentation and flavor awards, seed health specialist James Dunning's enchiladas with chicken, mushrooms and, of course, three colors of carrots, was one of the hits of the main dish section, winning a first place award certificate for best overall flavor and $40 in cash.

Ana Regalado of the food lab garnered second place in that category with her festive and colorful Mexican carrot stew, which also earned her $20 in cash.

In the best visual presentation category, onion man Watson and his wife, Teresa Burgett, split the $40 first place prize with a Moroccan bird display. An associate breeder of cucumbers, Michele Wood, also slipped in among the carrot people with a second place prize certificate in the presentation category and $20 for her nonalcoholic carrot margaritas.

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