Zehnder’s Squashtoberfest Chefs Transform Pumpkin and Squash into Culinary Masterpieces

Oct 23, 2018

[PHOTOS] On Monday, October 22nd, Zehnder’s welcomed home cooks, aspiring amateur chefs and TV network “foodies” to a Fall celebration in honor of all things squash and pumpkin otherwise known as Zehnder’s Squashtoberfest. The day long, three event cooking competition brought about delightfully creative pumpkin and squash dishes such as Orecchiette with Clams and Zucchini, Sizzling Squash Dumplings and Hubbard Squash Cheesecake Swirl Pecan Pie. Chefs competed in four categories including Savory Main Dishes, the Great Soup Challenge, Sweet Surprises and Jams, Jellies and Preserves. First place took home $200, 40 lbs. of Pioneer Sugar and 4 tickets to the Zehnder’s Christmas Dinner Show (a value of $192). Second place won $100, 20 lbs. of Pioneer Sugar and dinner for 4 at Zehnder’s Restaurant. Third place received a $50 gift card, 10 lbs. of Pioneer Sugar and dinner for 2 at Zehnder’s Restaurant.

There was added excitement to Zehnder’s Squashtoberfest this year. In honor of Pati Mills LaLonde, well known regional foodwriter and promoter of all things culinary, who died this past spring; we hosted the Pati LaLonde Future Culinary Stars Competition. We invited the three local high school culinary arts programs to compete in a baking competition in which the students prepared pies, pound breads and cakes featuring squash as a primary ingredient. Saginaw Career Center, Bay Arenac ISD and Tuscola Technology Center (Caro) instructors Julie Ivan, Denise Fahrenbruch and Bob Zehnder arrived with their teams of students all dressed in crisp chef whites andchef toques. Our Squashtoberfest crowd all turned their heads as the students entered Zehnder’s Main Dining Room! Prior to the competition we presented a special tribute in her honor to Pati’s son and daughter, who we also asked to help us judge the event. The judging was tough and only two points separated first and second place! First place team, Saginaw Career Center walked away with $1000 and trophy, Tuscola Tech Center took second – $500 and a trophy and Bay Arenac finished with $250 and a trophy. The prize money goes to the schools’ culinary programs to be used for various projects each of the programs do throughout the year.

2018 Squashtoberfest Winners:

Squashtoberfest Soup Category WinnersSoup Category:

1st Place: Pam Hornbacher-Retzler from Caro, MI with Chipotle Butternut Squash Soup
2nd Place: Richard Rizzio from Troy, MI with Squash Chowder
3rd Place: Rhonda Marvin from Laingsburg, MI with Sauerkraut and Squash Soup




Squashtoberfest Sweet WinnersSweet Category:

1st Place: Susan Nickels from Farmington Hills, MI with Chocolate Zucchini Praline Torte with Pumpkin Caramel Buttercream
2nd Place: Carol Socier from Bay City, MI with
Harvest Time Pumpkin Cake
3rd Place: Donna Bardocz from Howell, MI with
Well-Dressed Pumpkin Cheesecake




Savory Category:

1st Place: Sally Sibthorpe from Shelby Township, MI with Chicken Squash and Swiss Strudels
2nd Place: Melissa Kildow from Grand Blanc, MI with Sizzling Squash Dumplings
3rd Place: Linda Schmidt from Kawkawlin, MI with Zucchini Wrapped Chicken Enchilada Supreme




Squashtoberfest Jams, Jellies and Preserves Category WinnersJams, Jellies and Preserves Category:

1st Place: Pamela Gilbeau from Dearborn, MI with Michigan Sour Cherry Vanilla Bean Preserves
2nd Place: Pamela Hornbacher-Retzler from Caro, MI with Santa’s Fuzzy Navel
3rd Place: Cheryl Williams from Bay City, MI with Pumpkin Pie Jam




Additional Images from the event:

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