Sweet victory

By on April 30, 2014

 Scooter’s takes down ABC to become Lititz’s top pretzel chef

The defending champion from last year’s Top Pretzel Chef competition, Appalachian Brewing Company, had some major rivalries to contend with going into this year’s Lititz Pretzel Fest.

Bacon, chocolate and pretzels make a nice threesome at Candyology.

Bacon, chocolate and pretzels make a nice threesome at Candyology.

Last year’s competition was close. ABC won by one vote, and this year the competitors were determined to strip the title from last year’s champs. However, Appalachian Brewing Company was ready to rise to the occasion.

Chef Dan Crighton said, “We’re feeling a little bit of pressure, but the challenge is always worth it.” He went on to describe the dish he felt would give them the edge.

“This year I decided to do a little play on pretzels and beer,” he said. “So you have two different kinds of pretzels rolled into a cheeseball with beer in the cheeseball as well. The first one is rolled in a jalapeno pretzel and the second one is like a hot cheese pretzel. I also made a stout cheese sauce to compliment everything. It is beer on cheese on pretzel on beer. Beer and pretzels, you can’t go wrong. Beer and cheese, you can’t go wrong.”

General Manager Dave Skinner concurred, adding, “We decided this year instead of doing something sweet again we would do something savory. We use our own Susquehanna Stout that we brew here and which is available all year long. The pretzels we use are Sturgis pretzels from right down the street, so local beer and local pretzels. We are hoping for good things today.”

As calm and confident as ABC was about their dish, their fellow competitors were just as confident that the defending champions were going to fall. Julie Tallie of Dosie Dough said, “Sweet is the way to go for this competition and our caramel pretzel brownie will prove that. We will beat Appalachian Brewing Company! Any day we can beat them is a good day.”

Dawn Quinn, owner of Scooter’s, also felt that sweet was the way to go. Her chef, Tim Whitmyer, provided a decadently sweet offering of an inside-out chocolate covered pretzel: Wilbur’s milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate &tstr; yes, three different chocolates &tstr; inside a soft pretzel, grilled and then topped with a salted-caramel drizzle. Dawn said, “We are very confident in our chances this year. You can’t go wrong with pretzels and Wilbur Chocolate.”

Rita Garson of Candyology had a similar strategy when she decided to serve up bacon-chocolate pretzels. Rita said, “We were up until 1 a.m. two nights in a row working on these pretzels. We wanted to make something that befit our store so we took our inspiration from Hammond’s Pigs n’ Taters candy bar, one of our top selling items.”

Despite the plethora of sweet recipes contending for the title, some of the Top Pretzel Chef competitors went the same route as Appalachian and offered savory dishes. Bruno’s offered up a pretzel hoagie that was a spin on their #1 Sharp Italian, one of their top menu items. Bruno’s Nancy Bruhn said, “Appalachian Brewing Company is losing this one. We got it this year, they are going down.”

Pork & Wally’s had their award-winning, slow-roasted pulled pork with American cheese on pretzel rolls that were baked early on the day of the competition. Mark Wolownik of Pork & Wally’s said of his dish, “This is an ‘unplugged’ version of the Twisted Pretzel, a popular sandwich on our menu.”

When asked who he thought Appalachian Brewing Company’s biggest competition was going to be, Dave Skinner said, “Our closest competitors will probably be Bruno’s and Candy-Ology. We hear Bruno’s is doing a pretzel hoagie and they make good hoagies, so we’re worried about them. Candy-Ology has a bacon-chocolate pretzel and anytime you’re going up against bacon it gives the competition an edge.”

By the end of the day, and by a good margin, ABC had their title stripped from them by Scooter’s inside-out, chocolate covered pretzel. The triple chocolate threat was just too much for any of the competitors to overcome.

Even though the competition was intense, Skinner was happy to have Appalachian Brewing as a part of the Lititz Pretzel Fest event, saying, “Last year was our first year with the Pretzel Fest. We did the pretzel chicken with macaroni and cheese and we were fortunate enough to win the Chef’s Choice Award for that. It was so successful that we added it to our menu and it is one of our best-selling dishes. This year we were more than happy to be a part of it again. It’s a great day and the Kiwanis do such a great job with it. This town is so much fun with all the activities they do and we just love to be a part of it.”

While there was plenty of good-natured ribbing going on, the competing chefs were mainly concerned with ensuring that the spectators, who were also the judges, were having fun and enjoying themselves. Pork & Wally’s Wolownik said it best, “I hope everyone had fun. We would get waves of 10 to 15 people at a time and they were all so wonderful and patient. We had a lot of fun with them and we hope they had fun too.”

If the fun of the food competition wasn’t enough, this year’s Pretzel Fest also featured an assortment of games hosted by local businesses that ranged from Wilbur Chocolate’s Pretzel Toss to Sturgis Pretzel’s Pretzel Plinko, to the ever popular dunk tank hosted by the Zum Anker Alley Shoppes. With so much food and fun the Lititz Pretzel Fest, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, is a fantastic source of entertainment for the whole family. Best of all, the proceeds from the event’s ticket sales will go to charity, specifically The Boys and Girls Club and Project Eliminate.

Merriell Moyer is a freelance feature writer for the Record Express. He welcomes your comments at merriell071@gmail.com.

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