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Tierney Wolfgram (left) took fourth place in the youth division for her strawberry-topped cheesecake. Her brother, Campbell, said he ate a lot of strawberries while his sister was making her entry. Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner

Cottage Grove Strawberry Fest 'Top Chef' winners recognized

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Grace Rogers, a student at Cottage Grove Middle School, got interested in cooking when she was 5 years old.

Rogers was recovering from heart surgery and she got hooked on watching the Food Network. With her interest in cooking, she's been thinking all year about what recipe to make for the fourth Top Chef Contest at Strawberry Fest. She learned to make individual meringues and topped them with fresh strawberry sauce.

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"I saw the recipe in a magazine," she said.

Rogers' friends Anna Shearer and Riley Lennartson were at the contest to support her efforts and watch her take fourth place in the junior division. But like all of those who entered recipes made with strawberries, Rogers said she was hoping to win.

The idea to host a cooking contest during Cottage Grove's annual civic celebration came from Linda Tennis, who, along with her friends, co-hosts the contest with Anchor Bank of St. Paul Park.

This was the fourth year of the competition and interest in competing is still high with a mix of Top Chef veterans and newcomers.

Rachel Williamson, 10, saw a contest sign on a street corner and looked up the website for more information.

She made a strawberry cake "with homemade buttercream frosting," she said. Williamson likes to bake and chose the recipe without the help of her mother, Lenae. Williamson placed second in the youth division.

Tierney Wolfgram came in fourth in the youth division for her strawberry-topped cheesecake. "I entered last year and it was a lot of fun," she said, adding that it's her family's favorite.

"I accidently ate a lot of the strawberries," said Campbell, her younger brother.

Alene Colvin wanted to enter the contest but had to work in previous years. This year, with the day off, she entered her ginger honey glazed salmon with strawberry kiwi salsa.

"I've been making it for my family for years," she said.

Colvin, to her surprise, took first place in main entree.

Wendy Delmore has two first place wins under her belt for appetizers and set her sights on winning main entree for the past three years. She makes top-grade tuna, medium rare, for her family but discovered it was not a judge favorite.

This year her lamb chops with strawberry chutney glaze didn't place but she took first, again, for her strawberry bruschetta appetizer.

This year, she was making strawberry hand pies when they "blew up" in the oven and she didn't have time to do them over. Someone might copy her idea for next year, but Delmore doesn't think so.

"I have the recipe," she said.

Contest winners

Youth Division

Elle Clausen, first; Rachel Williamson, second; Allison Dulka, third; Tierney Wolfgram, fourth; and Isabella Wegele, fifth.

Junior Division

Jacob Sanders, first; Erin Glancey, second; Shane Eckes Jr., third; Grace Rogers, fourth; and Ben Sanders, fifth.

Main Entree

Alene Colvin, first; Brett Pearson, second; and Drew Sanders, third.

Appetizers

Wendy Delmore, first; Paula Mueska, second; Rachel Meawissen, third.

Breads

Jessica Roberts, first; and Marleina Moen, second.

Desserts

Judy Spooner, first; Mary Ressler, second; and Robert Workord, third.

Cakes and pies

Jane Clausen, first; Marleina Moen, second; and Chris Zolin, third.

Tierney Wolfgram (left) took fourth place in the youth division for her strawberry-topped cheesecake. Her brother, Campbell, said he ate a lot of strawberries while his sister was making her entry.

Elle Clausen, the winner in the youth division for a strawberry tart, runs to hug her mother, Jane, who won in the adult cakes and pies division at the Top Chef Contest.

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