2006_08_bear2.jpgWe didn't make it to the Central Park Zoo for the icy food-for-animals competition, but luckily Julia Meredith Levy did. She sent us a detailed report:

Ice replaced Iron in a Chef competition yesterday at Central Park Zoo. Fittingly, the contest's taste testers were Polar Bears Gus and Ida, weighing in at 1,000 and 700 pounds respectively. In the wild, their diets consist mainly of seals, eating as much as 100 pounds in one setting. On Sunday however in the Ice Chef Competition they had a more adventurous and scaled down menu of raw fillet Mignon, tilapia, peanut butter, whipped cream, Cheerios, and carrots to eat. The competition placed a guest chef from the Leaping Frog Café, who typically prepares food for the human visitors to the zoo, versus a zoo keeper in a race to prepare a "cake" for the bears.

2006_08_fishcake.jpg

The completed creations were tossed into the rocky water habitat almost as quickly as they werer prepared. Ida and Gus devoured the mid day treats, unusual for a pair who is typically fed in the evenings after visitors have departed for the day. And in case you were wondering who won the competition? The real winners were the zoo visitors who watched the meals prepared in front of the Polar Habitat.

And Rachael Ray competed in the Saturday Ice Chef event - does anyone know what she made? We think she'd be perfect for this, as it's all about jumbling together a bunch of stuff. Also, the menu does sound like stuff a little kid would think polar bears would like ("Uh, maybe some peanut butter...and fish... and Cheerios..."). We asked Julia if there was an official winner, but zoo didn't say - maybe the polar bears just immediately ate both cakes and it was a draw! Update: Sunday's competition was between zookeeper Gretchen Stoddard and Chef Gill from the Leaping Frog Cafe, and Gretchen won. On Saturday, Rachael Ray bested zookeeper Rich Camilli.

More Central Park Zoo events can be found here.

Photograph of bear with cake from Central Park Zoo's Chill Out 2005 event; photograph of fish cake from Julia Meredith Levy