TURNERS FALLS, MA — “Lemons! I need some lemons!” shouted state Rep. Stephen Kulik, pacing the culinary arts program kitchen at Franklin County Technical School Friday afternoon. “Did somebody already take all the lemons?!”
“If you can’t find lemons, look for some anise or anisette,” responded state Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, without looking up as he carefully slid a chef’s knife into the side of a large potato.
As Kulik made his way back toward his station, where he was mixing batter to make pizzelle — a type of Italian waffle cookie — state Rep. Susannah Whipps Lee palmed an apple corer into the bottom of her own potato, then worked a knife around its circumference. The result: a potato shaped like a mushroom; the perfect complement to her shiitake mushroom-topped sauteed chicken entree.
“That’s good, Paul,” Whipps Lee said, motioning for Rep. Paul Mark to pass her the bowl of local cheese he’d just finished grating.
This particular legislative delegation had come to the school Friday afternoon to step off of Beacon Hill and into the kitchen for a few hours, where they faced off against two teams of Franklin Tech culinary arts students — seniors Joey Barcomb and Alix Burnette and juniors Kassidy Flores and Shayla Demers — in a cooking competition modeled after the popular Food Network show “Chopped.”
Before scrambling for piles of herbs, eggs, asparagus and other ingredients from the kitchen’s pantry — most locally sourced from Franklin County farms — Chef Ben Pike revealed the secret ingredients that had to be used in the entree and dessert dishes: a whole fresh chicken for the former, and local apples from Pine Hill Orchards for the latter.