HOLTVILLE — For the second year in a row, the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office took first place Friday evening against six other teams vying for the best salad at the Produce Gala and Saladero Contest.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Imperial Valley hosted the fundraiser event at the Imperial Palms Resort at Barbara Worth to get the community involved with supporting youth who attend after-school activities at club branches in Brawley and Holtville.
Produce gala committee member Misty Lee, director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Imperial Valley, said seven teams competed in the salad contest. By the number of tickets sold, she also estimated more than 200 people attended the event. Guests visited each of the seven competitor’s tables, sampled the entries, and then voted for their favorite salads by ballot.
The saladero contest, in addition to showing support for the community, also builds camaraderie within community organizations attempting to show off their best salad creations by cooking with locally grown vegetables from the farms of Imperial Valley.
“I was just super excited that we won two years in a row and look forward to possibly a third,” said ICSO team organizer Cassandra Nelson as she smiled at the thought.
Nelson said the main ingredients for their entry, called Jailhouse Taco salad, were chili beans, pork rinds and lettuce. Nelson’s team of eight volunteers helped with the preparations.
Second place went to the Vessey & Company team and their Hawaiian-themed booth drew much attention among attendees. Team leader Jack Vessey and his team were all dressed in Hawaiian shirts as they served their winning entry, called Aloha Salad, to gala attendees. Adding to their prestige was the team’s achievement of earning the people’s choice award.
The Cotija Queens team took third pace for their entry, Ensalada Numero Uno.
Other team competitors included the Imperial County Young Farmers and Ranchers, Imaginative Colleagues Offering Edibles, the California Highway Patrol, and the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Aerie 1559.
California Highway Patrol Officer Tony Diaz and his team served a recipe they called Chippers Chopped salad. Officer Diaz said their dispatcher, Jaime Alvarez, came up with the entry salad. Ingredients included, romaine, iceberg, and green leaf lettuce, and other vegetables such as cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes, avocados, blue cheese and a red wine vinaigrette for the salad dressing.
Joseph Claverie, a Calexico resident, came with a friend to taste the salads. “We came over to support the Boys and Girls Club and try the salads,” he said.
When asked about his favorite, Claverie said, “I think I’m gonna have to go with Vessey Company for doing the Hawaiian theme, and creating the Aloha salad with sesame seed oil dressing. It was pretty good.”
Kim Vincent, Unit Director for the Holtville Boys & Girls Club, said the the gala and saladero contest is a big fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club of Imperial Valley. Vincent began at her position Jan. 3 this year.
According to the event program, the clubs in Brawley and Holtville provide after-school activities to nearly 500 children per year. The club averages about 100 members in daily attendance. With their support, the clubs tell donors they have the opportunity to develop “a new generation of young people who are productive and caring citizens”.