Dining With Denise Neil

Local grandma wins right to have her salsa served at popular restaurant chain

Judie Ellis of Andover chopped her way to victory at the Wichita Riverfest on Thursday, and soon, her salsa will be famous.
Judie Ellis of Andover chopped her way to victory at the Wichita Riverfest on Thursday, and soon, her salsa will be famous. The Wichita Eagle

An Andover grandma known for her salsa-making prowess had a big night on Thursday.

Judie Ellis, a home cook from Andover, won the Wichita Riverfest's first ever Carlos O' Kelly's Salsa Chopoff, which happened at the RedGuard Stage.

Ellis' salsa was named the best by a panel of judges that included me, Gaga's Grub owner Dustin Presley and Carlos O' Kelly's Jon Rolph. Her prizes: A cutting board trophy, a new food processor and a promise that her salsa will be added to the offerings at Carlos O' Kelly's restaurants in Wichita later this year.

Ellis made a chunky salsa full of flavor that was full of peppers and tomatoes picked up at a local Mexican market. She entered the contest at the insistence of a friend and because she thought "it would be fun to represent the sassy senior citizens of Wichita in this competition."

The contest was sponsored by Carlos O' Kellys and drew a crowd of onlookers, who were served Carlos O' Kelly's signature chips and salsa while they watched.

Chris Montoya, who served a super spicy salsa, placed second in the contest. And Ernie Avila got third with his cucumber-spiked recipe.

The festival still has a few fun food events yet to come.

Butler County's Hospitality & Culinary Arts students will participate in an event called "It's Not Faire" at 1 p.m. Saturday on the main food court stage. The students, coached by local chefs, will re-imagine favorite festival foods to see who can do it best.

And the annual race to ingest as many funnel cakes as possible in 10 minutes will happen at 3 p.m. Saturday on the food court stage.

2018 Wichita River Festival - Includes everything from the Sundown Parade to Wednesday's Cypress Hill concert.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle

  Comments