The Arbors of Bedford chef wins Fire and Fusion

The Senior Activity Center in Nashua hosted a virtual ‘Fire and Fusion’ chef competition this year. Picture are Senior Center development director Judy Porter, Fire and Fusion winning chef Guy Streitburger, the Arbors of Bedford director of marketing Paula Whittier and Senior Center executive director Margo Bell.

NASHUA – Although Nashua’s Senior Activity Center’s biggest fundraiser, “Fire and Fusion,” was forced to go the virtual route this year, it still had surprises in store for the many executive chefs who took part in the competition.

The ingredients were secret, the dishes creative in flavor profiling and appearance.

The winner was Guy Streitburger, food service director and executive chef at the Arbors in Bedford, New Hampshire.

Streitburger, who participated in this competition last year, said he was warned that the 30 minutes allotted to each chef – who were video recorded and had their videos played on different social media platforms and channels – would go by fast.

“They said those minutes would go by in the blink of an eye,” he said. “So, I concentrated more on the flavor profile than I did for my plate presentation.”

This year, Streitburger took a long look at the ingredients and focused on appearance as well as taste.

“I didn’t want to do a stir-fry and just put all the ingredients in there like that,” he said. “I wanted to make sure that each ingredient had a reason for being there and it worked out.”

The ingredients were jumbo shrimp, fennel, pineapple, pink peppercorns and shaved coconut.

“On the video, I wanted to come up with a storyline as to why I was preparing this particular dish,” Streitburger said. “Years ago, I had opened a restaurant at a B&B in Cornish, Maine. And the innkeeper, Judy, used to make her own Grand Marnier for French Toast.”

Judy shared her recipe with Streitburger; many years later, he was a general manager at a steakhouse in Merrimack.

“We had run this perfect Saturday evening, no refires, and there was a young lady who I was just smitten with,” he shared. “She was the dining room manager and it was late and I asked if she was hungry and she said that she loved shrimp. Ding.”

Streitburger sauteed shrimp with Grand Marnier and it was love at first bite.

“We have been married for 25 years now,” he said. “That was the crux of the shrimp idea, and this time, I was going to make my own Grand Marnier.”

Instead of using fresh OJ, Streitburger used fresh blood orange, brandy, peels and sugars, and allowed it to ferment for several weeks.

“That was the liquid that I used to sauté the shrimp,” he explained. “And toward the end, I added the coconut.”

For the pineapple, Streitburger put that in a bag with nectarine, apple and a pear, which releases Ethelene – slightly.

“It softens and ripens,” he said. “I cut it and peeled the pineapple and sauteed those with blood orange juice and then sprinkled pink peppercorn. And for the fennel, I quartered it and sauteed that, because of the similarity to licorice, I added in some diced Twizzlers and more blood orange and for the plate presentation, I took a blood orange in the middle, took some fennel sprigs in the middle and around that put the rings of coconut and inside each ring, I placed the shrimp and coconut.”

The plate was well balanced and the colors popped.

Flambéing the Grand Marnier, Streitburger created a syrup which he poured over everything.

“I just wanted to use all of my 30 minutes,” he said. “I think I used 28. And it was a success.”