Olympic Coach Bela Karolyi Brings Food Critic Game To Town

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MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant


Celebrity Olympics coach Bela Karolyi is in town doing what he does best, coaching some of the 2013 P&G Gymnastics Championship gymnasts who are in Hartford. And then there is that other thing, judging food.

Once again the celebrity coach has been tapped to dine around the city and hand out the gold to the place he feels is the best when it comes to good food.

“It’s going to be tough but I think they will all be scored between 7 and 10,” laughed Karolyi, who, along with “Right to Play” founder and CEO, former Olympic speed skater Johann Olav Koss, stopped at Max Downtown Thursday as part of the contest. There, where executive chef Hunter Morton served the two a Garlic Farm native tomato tart with Wala Wala onions and a side of parmesan ice cream.


MaryEllen Fillo/Hartford Courant

“The stakes are high,” he joked as he tried the glorified appetizer, also being fair and praising the Mexican food he had also tried at nearby Agave as the competition got underway. “Like gymnastics, we are looking for quality.”

Other participating restaurants include Feng Asian Bistro, DISH, Salute and City Steam Brewery. Juding will be completed Saturday.

Karolyi judged a similar restaurant showdown three years ago, the last time the championship was in Hartford. And Karolyi clearly enjoyed being back.

For Koss, who heads up the non-profit that provides sports and play opportunities to children in need, this week marks his first visit to Hartford and he already likes what he sees.

“The people are all so friendly,” he said. “It’s a beautiful city and it’s good to be welcomed.”

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