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Competition Is Hot in College's Salsa Cook-Off

May 20, 1999|IRENE GARCIA

It only takes about half an hour to make, but Juan Flores' salsa has lots of history.

The recipe has been in his family three generations, he said, and a special rock, used by Mayans centuries ago, is essential to enhance the flavor.

The result is a thick and tasty green salsa that packs a punch.

"My grandmother gave my mother the recipe and my mom gave it to me, but I refined it a bit," said Flores, a culinary arts student at Mission College.

On Wednesday, Flores entered his family secret in the SalsaRama contest at the college. Fourteen of the school's top culinary arts students and two from the culinary arts program at Monroe High School in North Hills entered the event.

Entries included all sorts of exotic salsas in several different colors, some light green, some dark, others yellow, red or pink. One was made of fresh chopped fruit and poured over vanilla ice cream.

The judges, five professional chefs from around the Valley, scrutinized each salsa for taste, texture and presentation.

Three winners were selected, one each for mild, spicy and hot. Some judges got teary eyes and runny noses while tasting the spicy and hot entries.

"We're going to have to take an intermission because I got to find my tongue," joked judge Mario Sosa, a chef at the La Canada Country Club. "That is hot!"

Maria Perez, a Monroe senior, won the spicy salsa title. Her thick, red salsa included tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, cilantro and a few other secret ingredients.

"I make this at home all the time," Perez, 19, said. "But at home I make it really hot."

The other winners were Mission College students Jonathan Greek for his mild salsa and Guadalupe Ramirez for her hot concoction.

The winners will now compete in a contest at the 53rd annual Valley Fair June 10-13 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank.

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