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Chinberg wins Irish Celebration Contest

If Gary Chinberg is right, then one year down the road, Troy University will offer a trip to Dublin as the grand prize of the Irish Celebration Cooking Contest.

When that happens, Chinberg wants to be in a position to receive it.

“I keep thinking Troy University will offer a prize like that. Of course, it might be Dublin, Ga.,” Chinberg said laughing.

“But, anyway, I keep entering.”

Not only does Chinberg keep entering the Irish Celebration Contest, he keeps winning it.

He was the overall winner in the 2009 cooking contest held at the Trojan Center on Tuesday.

He also took first place in the sides/appetizers and main entrees categories and second place in salads.

But he had some stiff competition in Jenny Johnson who took first place in breads and second place in main entrees and side dishes.

Morgan Hooper, a Troy University student took first place in salads and Dr. Deb Gearhart won top place in desserts and Lindsey Hopper was second.

“This was by far the largest turnout that I have worked,” said Bronda Barron, coordinator of the event.

“There were a total of 18 different dished included in the five categories, ranging from salads to desserts. The Irish Celebration Cooking Contest is a great way to get the community involved and a lot of fun.”

Chinberg is a seasoned winner but he still is excited by the competition of the cooking contest.

“I grew up around my grandparents who were great cooks and enjoyed cooking,” he said.

“I enjoy cooking and experimenting with new recipes. I really enter the Irish Celebration Cooking Contest each year because I’m Irish and I love the Irish traditions. And, too, I just enjoy the competition.”

Chinberg’s overall winning recipe was a Creamy Irish O’Brien Potato Casserole.

“It’s a rather easy recipe and it’s hard to miss with potatoes,” Chinberg said. “The ingredients are a 28-ounce package of Ore-Ida O’Brien Potatoes, one cup of milk, one package of Ranch Dressing, one stick of butter, one cup Cream Havarti Cheese and a fourth cup of real bacon bits.

“Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a casserole dish and pour in potatoes. On top of the stove, melt butter and add milk, ranch dressing and the cup of cheese and heat to melt. Pour the mixture over the potatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Then bake for an hour and 15 minutes and sprinkle with bacon bits.”

Johnson was a first-time entrant in the contest. She lives in Goshen and is a graduate student at Troy University.

“I’m originally from Ohio and Ohio has a large Irish population and they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a big way,” she said. “I love St. Patrick’s Day and I love to cook so to cook for St. Patrick’s Day was a lot of fun.”

Following the decisions by the judges, the contest entries were made available to students and faculty members. Those who sampled the entries each had a favorite and the empty dishes were evidence that all entries were winners.