New course: Bedford chef to compete in New Orleans | News, Sports, Jobs


Mirror photo of Cati Keith Mandisa Horn and Carla Kagarise are heading to New Orleans this week to compete in a national seafood competition.

BEDFORD — A borough chief hopes bottom eaters will rise to the top at a national seafood contest Aug. 6 in New Orleans.

Mandisa Horn, owner of the Horn O Plenty restaurant in Bedford, will compete against 13 chefs from across the country in the 18th annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off.

But because Bedford is so far from the ocean, Horn decided to focus on a closer waterway, the Chesapeake Bay, which gets 40% of its water from Pennsylvania.

“I have the opportunity to explain why I made the dish, and I thought I would use it to raise awareness of efforts to clean up PA watersheds because they end up in the Chesapeake”, she says.

From there, she decided that her recipes would focus primarily on bottom feeders, which include crab, shrimp, and all shellfish.

“They help to clean and they help to filter the water, they are the first to tell us if it is polluted”, Horn said.

She even used duck because it plays an important role in watersheds by killing invasive species and creating new waterways for other fish and bottom feeders.

In the meantime, Horn traveled to Annapolis, Maryland to talk with fish mongers, collect ingredients, and train.

His experience with seafood is when someone brings something home from vacation or the vendors in Baltimore stop by the restaurant with crabs.

The fish she tends to work with for the restaurant are locally found trout or catfish.

“I’m just trying to improve myself because I’m not very familiar with seafood, so I feel like an outsider entering this field”, she says. “However, I’m super happy, I’m going to try very hard and represent the AP well.”

Horn was selected for the contest by Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman.

Recipes she prepared for the contest include: Ramp Pasta with Clam Sauce, Crab Mushroom Seafood Chowder, and Seaweed Salad with Black Garlic Shrimp Glaze and with mustard.

“Our state is also known for its mushrooms, so I bring PA mushrooms with me which are also bottom feeders of the forest,” Horn said.

All equipment and ingredients must be sent to New Orleans before the competition begins because the chefs must be self-sufficient, she said.

“It’s a national cooking competition and it’s a big deal,” Horn said.

On August 6, contestants have one hour to prepare their recipes for four judges, who are also chefs, who will decide the king or queen of American seafood.

“We really have so much talent here at Bedford, and we’re really proud to see Mandi represent her home,” Tina Pittman, Bedford County Visitors Bureau Manager, said.

Horn isn’t sure if there was a prize for winning, but just being there to represent her home is a great opportunity, she said.

Carla Kagarise, who has worked with Horn for nine years, will be her sous-chef.

“It’s a serious competition, it’s an honor to be asked to do something like this”, Kagarise said.

She does a bit of everything at the restaurant, including waitress, human resources manager, planner and now sous-chef.

Horn developed the recipes, then Kagarise helped her perfect them.

Being new to the kitchen, Kagarise also learns more skills.

“I’m a waiter and tend to manage the front of the house, I’ve been in the kitchen a lot more recently learning new skills,” Kagarise said.

Kellie Goodman-Shaffer, director of the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce, said Horn is a wonderful cook and a leader in the community.

“If people see what we’re doing here and respect it over what Mandi is doing, that’s really great for the region and the state as a whole,” she says.

Horn is excited to see New Orleans and can’t wait to meet all the chefs.

“Talking to them is going to be cool because they’re from all over the country, and I hear they do some really cool stuff,” she says.

Horn said what made her the most nervous was the pressure and not knowing her surroundings.

“I want to perform well, and I can’t see the setup until competition day,” she says.

Horn said Horn O Plenty, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, now has a new pavilion for guests to eat out and available to hire for parties.

“We have a great summer menu going on, if I win this contest you bet the recipes will be featured there,” she says.

Mirror Staff editor Cati Keith can be reached at 814-946-7535.

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