Queen Wilhelmina State Park near Mena took home the top prize earlier this month at the Arkansas State Park’s Top Chef Competition.
Five park restaurants participated in the Feb. 11 event sponsored by Ben E. Keith at the Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute in Little Rock.
Chef Ken Morse of Queen Wilhelmina State Park won the event with a fajita salad with roasted asparagus.
“We think it was our special seasoning on the fajita steak that caught the attention of the judges, ”said Morse.
Contestants from Queen Wilhelmina, DeGray Lake Resort, Petit Jean, Mount Magazine and Ozark Folk Center State Parks prepared a new entrée and sides that each restaurant does not currently have on its menu but is considering adding it as a selection.
Judges from the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, Ben E. Keith and UAMS used criteria such as flavor, presentation and workstation tidiness to crown the victor.
The use of locally sourced ingredients and creating a healthy options of an old favorite were encouraged. And the prize for winning this exciting competition? The most valuable of all – bragging rights.