Mango Hometown Tour’s Hartford Event

The judges: Laura Koski, MA, RD at Price Chopper, MaryEllen Fillo of the Hartford Courant, Teresa LaBarbera of WTNH and me.

I love this photo. It was such a fun time — judging a cooking event here in Connecticut recently. Let me back up for a sec.

Back in July, I was invited by the National Mango Board to be one of the judges of a fun cook-off between two chefs when their Mango Hometown Tour came to Hartford, Connecticut, on August 26.

After I peeled myself off the floor in shock (there’s a National Mango Board? They want me to be a judge?) I agreed to do it. I mean, of course I did. The whole idea of tasting incredible foods from two of Hartford’s finest chefs was too good to pass up. And the fact that I love mangoes helped a lot too.

The event pitted Chef Chris Torla of Trumbull Kitchen (left) and Chef Billy Grant of Grant’s (right) in a Battle Mango. Ok, ok. It’s not Iron Chef. But it was a really fun and interesting thing to see what each of them came up with.

Billy Grant’s dish was served first: a mango barbecue braised beef short rib with a crispy onion ring and mango garnish. It was heavenly … the tender, fall-apart short rib was braised for about three and a half hours. I loved the way the mango added a tangy sweetness to the dish too. And the onion ring – Grant’s father’s recipe – was too good to stop at a polite bite.

Chris Torla did a trio of mango recipes: a mango lassi, a mango fondue tartlet and an OMG-pork belly slider topped with a mango slaw. It was my first introduction to pork belly (well, aside from its cured brother bacon), and it was an awesome one — the kind that leaves you craving more and wanting to swipe someone else’s portion (not that I would ever do that. Ever. Really). The fondue was really memorable too.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the event ended in a tie.


Mango Recipes from the Archives

Mango Iced Tea
Mango Chipotle Shrimp
Mango Salsa


  1. Karen says

    You have made the right decision accepting the offer. It is great that you enjoyed all the food. It would be understandable if you had a hard time judging since all the food sounds delicious.

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