Flavors of Central Texas 2012

Chef Steve Southern, executive chef at the Vineyard at Florence and owner of Southern's Fine Dining, demonstrates how to cook his dish "Texas Big Blonde Chili" during the fourth annual Flavors of Central Texas on Aug. 7, 2012, at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended Flavors of Central Texas to help judge a top chef cooking competition.

I left with a better education about the culinary creations available across Central Texas.

While people walked through the Killeen Civic and Conference Center ballroom sampling items and voting on their favorites, chefs from Central Texas College, the Fort Hood Culinary Arts Team and the evening’s celebrity chef, Steve Southern, gave cooking demonstrations.

My favorite demo was the Fort Hood team, but only because they catered to my sweet tooth, showing those gathered how to make mango gelato and cream puffs.

But the best part of the evening was judging the top chef competition. I got to sample four amazing dishes that highlighted the day’s secret ingredient — coffee, one of my favorite flavors.

While chef Southern, Monica Reid and I had no idea who made each dish, I wasn’t surprised when the results were tallied and the Fort Hood culinary team finished first. I’ll be rooting for them again when they compete later this year in Germany.

Other winners at Flavors of Central Texas Aug. 7 included Let Us Do the Cooking, which earned the people’s choice award for best entree, best side dish and best overall. Fort Hood claimed best dessert and best decorated booth.

If you didn’t get to this year’s event, make plans to attend next year. It’s a palate pleasing experience and a wonderful way to show off all the great food Central Texas has to offer.

Mango gelato


  • 4 whole mangos
  • ½ cup lime juice
  • 2 tablspoons sugar
  • ½ cup cream


  • Peel, seed and dice mangos.
  • In a blender, put mangos, lime juice and sugar. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture into ice cream maker. When gelato starts to freeze, stream cream into mixture until it gets creamy. Continue to freeze until mixture hardens. Store frozen in an airtight container.

Pate a chou (cream puff dough)


  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 6 eggs


  • In a medium sauce pan, boil together water and butter. Remove from heat. Beat in flour.
  • Return to heat and cook about three minutes, or until the mixture pulls away from the pot and rolls into a ball.
  • Put mixture in a mixer and blend until it starts to cool. Add eggs one at a time and mix to blend.
  • Pipe or spoon dough onto a greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 until brown and dried out.
  • To serve: Fill with whipped cream or pudding as desired. Dip in melted chocolate or cover in powdered sugar to top puffs.

— Recipes courtesy of the Fort Hood culinary team

News/Design Editor M. Clare Haefner enjoys cooking for family and friends. Contact her at chaefner@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7551.

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