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Local Chefs Face Off in Rota Tilapia Cook-Off (October 30, 2009)

The Northern Marianas College has announced the winners of its first-ever Tilapia Cook-off Competition, which was held recently at the Roundhouse on Rota. Laura Manglona bagged the top prize of $100 in the Youth Division (ages 15-18), while Leonardo Calvo topped the Adult Division (over 18), winning $150.

Manglona triumphed in the Youth Division with her Tilapia Soup, which included fresh tomatoes, onions, beans, and coconut milk; and Calvo’s Spicy Buttered Tilapia, which wore a vinaigrette topping, proved to be the victor in the Adult Division.

Entries were judged on taste, texture, originality, creative presentation, and use of local ingredients. Each contender was given three pieces of tilapia to use in their entry.

Other winners included Abraham Mendiola (2nd place, Youth), Nature Atalig (3rd place, Youth), Maria Fujihira (2nd place, Adult), and Coltilde San Nicolas (3rd place, Adult). A total of nine individuals submitted one recipe each to compete in the event, which was organized by the NMC Cooperative Research Extension and Education Service (CREES), a program under the Division of Community Programs & Services. Judges for the event comprised of Margaret Tudela, Tomas Mendiola, and Trina Taisacan for the Adult competitors and Tomas Atalig and Carmen Atalig for the Youth.

“We are extremely pleased with the turnout and all the recipes submitted by the contestants,” said NMC President Dr. Carmen Fernandez. “CREES is also currently in the planning stages of compiling a tilapia cookbook that will showcase all the recipes submitted at the cook-off competition.”

The competition was aimed at establishing a widespread acceptance of tilapia consumption, which in turn can increase its supply and encourage youth into aquaculture as a means of life skills development and delinquency diversion.

“The event played a key role in our efforts to promote the local consumption of tilapia, which also happens to be great source of protein,” added President Fernandez. “We are extremely grateful to all who supported this event by donating their time and resources.”

The competition, which was supported by the NMC-CREES Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and the 4-H Youth Development Program, was made possible by funds donated by the Western Sales & Trading Company, Saipan. Over fifty pounds of red and silver tilapia used in the competition was also donated by Rota tilapia farmers Nicolas Songsong and Joshua Calvo.

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