Well since I screwed up my ankle playing softball I thought this would be a good time to talk about yesterdays competition.
I must say I was excited to be invited as a judge for a cooking competition. I was also a little apprehensive. I don't like to give bad news to amateur cooks. They tend to take things personally. When judging a competition you are not looking to hurt someones feelings you are judging them by their skills. If your skills suck then your food is going to suck. But I was more interested in going to see an old friend Keith Angell who is the Executive Chef of Grillmasters in Zionsville. The other judges were guys I either knew of or have admired. Thom England is one of the premiere culinary minds in the city and Neal Brown is kinda the mad scientist of chefs in the city. So to be sitting next to these guys was kind of a cool thing if nothing else just meeting and BSing with a bunch of chefs.
Kelly was great she was at my side all day and it was funny she kept telling the chef judges where and when we had to be. Then during the judging she would leave then come back(I found out she was going out and looking at the dishes as they were coming in and then letting me know what dishes she wanted to try and which ones she was not interested in. Very cute. We sat in on the classes that Chef Keith was teaching and it was fun to be able to just sit and relax and watch another chef have to work.
We started off with the appetizers or rather it should have been called the lets wrap it all in bacon. Shrimp, beef, chicken, jalapenos, water chestnuts, and asparagus. The memorable one was the asparagus wrapped with prosciutto and phyllo dough it needed a sauce though. That was the thing no one wanted to put in sauce with their meals. There was also a grilled oyster on the half shell that was amusing(yah I said amusing) There was also a grilled scallops on a avocado mousse and a BBQ chicken pizza that was really good. Kelly told me she tried one that was straight out of the oven that was even better. Now if you are a true foody you will know that most of those dishes are a little outdated for restaurant food but remember that these were all amateurs cooking. It was funny the last appt to come through was a trio of everything wrapped in bacon(go figure!) and one of the dishes was a bacon wrapped jalapeno and holy shit was it hot. All the chefs were grabbing water and I think Thom Englands head didn't stop sweating for half an hour.
The entrees.... ribs ribs ribs.... very little originality. There was a smoked lamb chops with a mint crust that was rather nice. All the fish dishes were WAAYYY over cooked. The one that I liked and remember was a perfectly done fillet of beef stuffed with a roasted garlic butter. Very tasty. The ribs were one of the dishes that was a subjective thing. I was surprised to see how UN-tender most of them were. of the 4 or 5 ribs entries only one struck me as being done properly. There were several tri tips again all of them seemed to be a little tough. I did like the sides that a lot of folks put up. There was a sweet potato dish with a cinnamon butter that i am going to have to go into my kitchen and try to recreate. It was yummy and all the other judges were of the same feeling. I thought that the dishes were creative in the type but were needing more work in presentation.
Dessert. After 36 course up to this point I was happy to see my favorite course to come up. When out walking and looking at the competitors I was seeing ice cream churns and baking pans. Very cool... There was the usual grilled pineapple and cherries. There was a really good pineapple upside down cake that had obviously made their own cake batter from scratch. There was also a entry that they had cored out a pineapple and stuffed it with cake batter and pineapple and baked it that was very cool. But the clear stand out was the chocolate melt away hearts with fresh whipped cream. It was funny all the judges tasted it then set them aside to eat later.... Always a good sign.
All in all it was a good day of networking socializing and eating WAY!!! to much food. I came home took a nap and generally was in a food coma for the rest of the day. Kelly was getting hungry around 10pm and asked if she could fix some hamburger helper. After the kind of day I had nothing sounded better.