The Invasive Species Cookoff 2022

The Invasive Species Cookoff 2022 ‘Foodcart Edition’ had some surprisingly tasty offerings

Hot takes from the 2022 Invasive Species Cookoff!

Well over one hundred billion dollars are spent annually in the U.S. to combat invasive species, a problem so great that it rivals many other ecological catastrophes. But on a recent Saturday evening 150 people came to the table to discuss this issue and dine upon some of the worst offenders.

The Institute for Applied Ecology held its first Invasive Species Cookoff since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in Corvallis Oregon on September 12, 2022, at Common Fields, a food cart haven with remarkably delicious offerings that on this unique evening included a menu more adventuresome than ever.

A panel of six judges ranked dishes based on taste, presentation, and creativity.
IAE Invasive Species Cookoff (2022). A panel of six judges ranked dishes based on taste, presentation, and creativity.

People’s Choice Award

Five food carts offered small plates for Cookoff ticket holders, vying for the coveted People’s Choice award from the event’s attendees. Kalamata Bistro (Chef Jacob Oliver) cooked up a delectable sample of steamed purple varnish clams in a flavor packed broth. Hearty wild boar over spaetzle was prepared by Black Forest Kitchen (Chef Tyler Hunziker). Pupuseria del Valle (Chef Arely Hanson) created a delightfully fresh and tasty Asian carp ceviche, and Nai Nai’s Burmese Snack Shack (Chef Will de Glanville) made a moist yet flakey green crab samosa. To finish the menu, Oregon State University’s Dairy Club (Chef Robin Frojen and OSU students) churned up a stunningly delicious blackberry ice cream sprinkled with freeze-dried mint.

And the winner of the People’s choice award?  Pupuseria del Valle, who edged out Black Forest Kitchen by one vote, putting the ceviche in first place and the spaetzle in second.

Arely Hanson from Pupuseria del Valle with the 1st Place winning dish of Wild Boar Chicharrones.
Blackberry ice cream with freeze dried mint tied for Second Place in the People’s Choice competition.

But that was just round one!

A panel of six judges, among them Oregon state senator Sara Gelser Blouin and J.D. Morgan, a local restaurateur from Old World Deli, held court while the food cart chefs presented specially prepared dishes to demonstrate their culinary prowess with invasive ingredients.

Here were their daring entries:

The judges based their rankings of the dishes on taste, presentation, and creativity.  Second place was a tie between Black Forest Kitchen and OSU Dairy Club. And first place went to Pupuseria del Valle (again!).

The judges also selected two winners from a lineup of amateur entries from the attendees.  First place went to Leda Kaye and Finley Leytem for their presentation of purslane pesto on homemade invasive hazelnut crackers.  Lynne Shore took second place with vanilla invasive-mint cupcakes topped by a creamy mint chocolate icing – one judge raved about the delicious lemon-mint flavor!  Tom Kaye’s entry of fried American bullfrog legs received an honorable mention.

Leda Kaye and Finley Leytem took First Place in the amateur competition for their presentation of purslane pesto on homemade invasive hazelnut crackers.
Vanilla invasive-mint cupcakes topped by a creamy mint chocolate icing by Lynne Shore came in Second Place in the amateur competition.
Invasive American bullfrog legs took honorable mention in the amateur cookoff.

Three sponsors of the event staffed tables for their organizations.  A big thanks to Matthew Slaughter and Kinser Nyden from Earthfort, Mackenzie Saunders and Aaron Williams from Fender’s Blue Hemp, and Benton Soil and Water Conservation District staff Michael Ahr and Sara Roberts for joining the event.

Many thanks to the Brutal Bridges Band for bringing some lively rhythms to the scene.  We are grateful to Common Fields for providing a wonderful space for the cookoff.  We couldn’t have done it without them.


A huge thank you to our Business Sponsors!

Business sponsors