By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — Borough chef Carol Koty will compete to become World Food Champion after she was crowned World Seafood Champion last fall in Dallas.
Koty, 36, who has been a Naugatuck resident for four years, competed alongside her husband, Nicholas Sidorick, during the ninth annual World Food Championships on Nov. 5-9. Koty won the seafood category with a 95 score and now looks to win the World Food Championship this spring.
“I am tremendously honored,” Koty said Tuesday. “Excited and humbled by the amount of talent at the competition.”
The 10 category champion chefs will face off in the event’s Final Table culinary challenge for a $100,000 grand prize. The event, which is slated for April 28 to May 1 in the Lake Murray area of South Carolina, will feature three rounds of challenges.
Last fall, Koty earned a medal for being in the top 10, a trophy, a knife engraved with the Dallas skyline and $7,500 for her first-place showing. Koty credited her victory to a lot hard work, testing and trial runs.
“Really solid group of friends and family that backed me up no matter what I do and a little bit of luck,” she said.
Koty is the food and beverage director for Pomperaug Woods, a senior living community in Southbury. She married her husband in September. Sidorick, a retail seafood manager, has been Koty’s sous chef in the competition for the past three years. Koty competed in seven World Food Championships and earned second place in 2018 and 2019. Every chef has a sous chef in the competitions, Koty said.
In November, the competition featured 10 food categories and expected 50 chefs in each category, but ended up having slightly less than 500 chefs total, Koty noted.
She made three seafood dishes. She had an hour to cook each of her first two dishes. Each entry was comprised of a presentation dish and food portions for five judges. After her category got narrowed down to the top 10, she had 90 minutes to cook her third dish, which was judged more critically, she said. This included a presentation dish and portions for 10 judges.
Koty said one of the personal challenges is people in New England are spoiled with seafood all year.
“I had to work at really sourcing the seafood down there,” she said of Dallas.
Koty’s first two dishes featured a beer-battered catfish taco and caprese stuffed scallop with lobster orzo pilaf. Her third dish was sea bass with shrimp sausage and homemade fettuccine. She made her own sausage using shrimp protein, she added.
The competition included blind judging so chefs and judges didn’t get the opportunity to see each other, Koty said.
A Stratford native, Koty said seafood is one her favorite things to cook.
“Part of it is growing up in New England, being in love with everything to do with the ocean,” she said. “I’m partial to shellfish. I’ll take shellfish any day.”
Koty said she’s been cooking as far back as 5 years old, when she used to help her mom in the kitchen.
“She used to have her own tomato garden,” Koty said of her mother. “At the end of the season when we harvested the tomatoes, we would spend hours making tomato sauce and canning it.”
Koty began cooking professionally about 15 years ago, including stints as former executive chef at the Hilton hotel in Hartford and as a caterer of weddings.
In the final championship round, all of the chefs will cook the same type of dish with an opportunity for a little creativity, she said.
“This is going to level the playing field and test all of us outside of our category comfort zone,” Koty said.
She said the stakes will be high and competing against other talented, diverse chefs could be stressful, but she is very excited.
“It’s an honor to be in the same competition with them,” Koty said. “The experience is going to make me a better chef.”