Skip to main content

Chef Challenge Features Culinary Creativity at Eagle’s Trace

May 16, 2016

Houston, Texas--When two chefs of Eagle's Trace put their culinary skills to the test, the result was a celebration of creativity and camaraderie unique to the Lone Star State.

The Erickson Living retirement community hosted its Creative Chef Challenge before a full house of residents, priority list members and special guests on May 3rd.

They not only enjoyed a delicious meal, but witnessed a showdown between chefs Jesica Aguirre and Joshua Raia.

The two locally-trained culinary professionals were given a mystery basket filled with random ingredients (fresh whole tilapia, cactus, lemon grass, Rice Krispies and a can of Spam) and asked to prepare a unique dish of their choice…in just 45 minutes.  

Their respective cooking stations had basic spices and oils.  They were even fitted with overhead mirrors and television equipment so the 130 guests in attendance could follow their every move.  The pressure was on as emcees Steve Aigner, Executive Director, and Pam Burgeson, Sales Director, provided "play by play" and analysis.

A three-member panel rated Chefs Aguirre and Raia in the categories of presentation, taste and creativity.  The judges were Cleverley Stone of Fox 26 (KRIV TV) in Houston, Michelle Bohreer of the law firm of Bohreer & Zucker, LLP and a member of the Eagle's Trace Board of Directors and Connie Rudloff of BBVA Compass Bank.

After the tabulation, Chef Raia was declared the champion by a razor-thin margin.

"Like a proud mom, I watched Jesica and Joshua prepare their meals," noted Faye Drennan, Sales Associate at Eagle's Trace.  "The judges commented on their poise under pressure, and of course, how great their dishes tasted."

As they watched the competition, guests were served a tasty gazpacho to start followed by a classic surf & turf entrée featuring tender grilled beef tips and stuffed lobster tail.  Delicate mini tarts filled with sweet cream and luscious fruit capped off the three-course meal, all prepared by the Dining Services Team of Eagle's Trace.

"We are proud of our culinary staff so it was fun to watch Jesica and Joshua showcase their talents in a friendly competition," said Ms. Burgeson.  "They are part of a team that prepares tasty and healthy meals at our two restaurants, and soon, at our new dining venue in Amarillo Terrace."

About Eagle's Trace:  Eagle's Trace is one of nineteen continuing care retirement communities managed by Erickson Living.  Located in Houston, Texas, the scenic 70-acre campus is home to more than 675 residents.  Eagle's Trace is the ideal greater Houston retirement destination offering a true sense of community, convenience beyond compare and a sensible financial structure. 

[[{"fid":"194401","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":"Eagle's Trace culinary team members Jesica Aguirre and Joshua Raia filet tilapia, an ingredient from their mystery basket, as part of the Creative Chef Challenge on May 3.","field_slideshow_link[und][0][title]":"","field_slideshow_link[und][0][url]":"","field_wrapper_link[und][0][title]":"","field_wrapper_link[und][0][url]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"title":"Eagle's Trace culinary team members Jesica Aguirre and Joshua Raia filet tilapia, an ingredient from their mystery basket, as part of the Creative Chef Challenge on May 3.","height":"3456","width":"5184","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]