Cook-off rookie wins grand prize

HUDSON – First-time Telegraph Culinary Delights Cook-off contestant Cindy Martel was chosen the grand-prize winner for her Fresh Fruit Pudding Compote at the 22nd annual competition Saturday at Alvirne High School’s Checkers Restaurant.

A longtime family favorite that she picked up from her mother, Diane Fauteux, who made it for years for her summer pool parties, Martel said the recipe has never been altered.

“I haven’t changed a thing,” she said, after hugging 12-year-old daughter Jenna in celebration upon the announcement by head judge Dan Cathcart. “There’s no reason to, everyone’s loved it for a long time.”

On its way to the grand prize, Martel’s compote first won the Desserts and Baked Goods category, in which it was one of few non-chocolate entries.

In the day’s first category, Soups and Appetizers, Litchfield resident Dee Breton won with her Hearty Southwestern Salsa Soup. The next category, Vegetables and Salads, was taken by Denise Cushing of Hudson with her Zucchini Stir-fry. Cook-off veteran Mary-Ellen Reed’s Peaches ’N Cream French Toast won the Main Dishes category.

The four category winners each get a $100 cash prize. Martel’s grand prize earns her an additional $250 and the opportunity to serve as a judge for the 2005 cook-off.

A postal worker who lives in Manchester, Martel said she began reading The Telegraph food pages when she was transferred to the Nashua post office two years ago. She noticed the contest and decided to put her compote in the running; it was selected the weekly winner in August.

Joining Cathcart at the judges’ table were last year’s grand-prize winner, Brenda Sanville, and Fairgrounds Middle School consumer sciences teacher Lorinda Nye, a longtime judge.

More coverage of the cook-off, including additional photos and the winning recipes, will appear in The Telegraph’s food section on Wednesday. The annual cookbook compiling the past year’s weekly winning recipes will be inserted in the newspaper on Wednesday, Nov. 17.