Food & Drink

Italian cook-off open to all mountain cooks, tasters

ItalianChallengeBy Jennifer Pund
It’s time to break out your favorite Italian recipe, cook up a tasty dish and see how it stands up against other mountain home chefs. Coal Creek Canon Improvement Association members are excited to host the third Italian Challenge, April 16 (RESCHEDULED TO FRIDAY, APRIL 22) from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the CCCIA Hall. Everyone is welcome to enter a dish or just come and sample their neighbors’ submissions—it’s a popular way to socialize, have a hearty meal and help decide the event’s winners.

Judging by community tasters in three categories determines who earns bragging rights for the year, along with a gift card for 3 Sons Italian Restaurant on 64th Avenue in Arvada. Salad, garlic bread and drinks will be provided thanks to a donation from United Power and  everyone is welcome to bring wine or beer.

Kate Tallman and the CCCIA board wanted to start an annual challenge at the CCCIA when they met in 2012. “My husband’s Grandmother was from Sicily, and it was around that time that we had inherited her famous sauce and meatball recipe. Our friends and family raved about the meatballs, and I thought it would be fun to compete in an Italian cooking competition at the hall,” Tallman said. “I pitched it to the board, and we were all excited to start a new food challenge tradition.”

Bring your favorite Italian dish to the CCCIA Hall to be judged in three different categories: red, tomato-based pasta dish; white, cream-based pasta dish; and dessert. These categories have been changed slightly from previous competitions. “In the past, it was difficult to distinguish between different types of dishes, and we hope that these categories will open the floor to more competition.” Tallman said. Competitors include a list of ingredients or common allergens along with the description and title of their dish so there are no surprises.

Once the tasting begins, guests receive a ballot and make their way around the room to pick up small, numbered cups for each dish. “Don’t let the cup sizes deceive you, everyone will walk away with a full belly.” Tallman said. The CCCIA will provide salad, garlic bread, soda, water, and some dessert. Everyone is welcome to bring their own wine or beer.

Admission to the 2016 Italian Challenge is $7 for CCCIA Members, $9 for non-members and $5 for 12 and under with an adult. Everyone gets to taste all the entrées to find a favorite.

The proceeds go directly to the CCCIA and help keep the doors open at the community hall. “The hall is a busy place that hosts local businesses, community groups, church services, weddings, funerals, and more,” Tallman explained. “It really is the ‘heart’ of the canyon and we incur significant costs throughout the year. For example, this year we will be refinishing the floors and paying off some rather large snow removal bills. In the next few years, we will begin fundraising for a new fire suppression system in the kitchen. This will be one of our most expensive—and mandatory—renovations in recent memory.”

Don’t feel left out if you don’t live in Coal Creek Canyon, the Italian Challenge is open to everyone. “I think that one thing that people might misunderstand about the competition—and any event at the CCCIA Hall—is that it is open to anyone. Some might feel like they need to be members of the CCCIA, or they might assume that everyone knows each other and that strangers would feel unwelcome. This is not the case,” Tallman said. “The CCCIA Hall is open to all during these events, and we have a lot of new faces joining in the fun. This is a friendly competition designed to bring neighbors together to celebrate everything that is great about living in Coal Creek Canyon and the Front Range foothills.”

The CCCIA was established in 1947 and the original hall was built in 1950. The Hall plays host to many events and gatherings including Sunday church services, Cub Scout meetings and arts and crafts shows. It can be rented for weddings, birthday parties, company meetings and private parties. Easter parties and a 4th of July festival are also among the many events held at the hall.

Tallman said United Power’s donation to the Italian Challenge is a huge help to the CCCIA. “Their financial sponsorship will help us purchase additional food and it helps take the financial pressure off of the CCCIA. United Power’s consistent and generous sponsorship of CCCIA events allows us to charge less and do more with our events. Our goal is not to make a big profit, but to provide a family-friendly fun evening of good food and company.”

The Coal Creek Canyon Improvement Association Hall is located at  31528 Colo. 72. For more information, call Kate Tallman at 303-642-0534 or visit

Originally published in the April 2016 issue of the MMAC Monthly

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