Yesterday Andrea and I participated in our very first Cooking Competition! It was a complete blast! We had so much fun meeting fellow "foodies", sampling tons of delicious dishes and spending time together for five straight hours! Below is a summary of our day, complete with pictures.
The competition was held at Trolley Square and put on by Lindsey Joy Smith, who owns a company called "Feast Upon Delights" (FüD). I was so impressed with how well-organized and well put together the entire event was. She had tons of fantastic sponsors and lots of great help, including a very impressive line-up of judges. This is a picture of the check-in table as well as a view of the room where the event was held as everyone is setting up.
We arrived shortly after 9:00 and had one hour to set up or "stage" our 1 1/2 x 2 foot space on our table. This was the part we were a little nervous about, but we did just fine.
This is Lindsey welcoming everyone and giving us the run-down on the events of the day. Andrea and I met her and chatted for a bit. She is a super cool person and may find herself an invitation to one of our gourmet nights! When we arrived we each received a "goodie bag" complete with an apron, hot mits, a brownie server, a chef's hat and a copy of her book Feast. It's Sunday night at 10:00 and I've already finished this delightful little book! She has a darling wit and a fun style.
At 10:00 the judges began coming around, tasting all of our dishes. There were three judges for each of the four categories; appetizer, main, side and desert. This is me with my Marinated Cheeses, a recipe from Lara Dixon. Lara brought these to our very first gourmet night and I have loved them ever since. I make them anytime the opportunity for an appetizer arises!
Marinated Cheeses8 oz cheddar cheese (I used Extra-Sharp Cheddar)
8 oz Cream Cheese (Andrea has convinced me that the store brand is just as good as Philadelphia).
Cut into small squares and alternate in a glass dish.
Mix the following ingredients well, pour over cheeses and marinate overnight.
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
3 TBS fresh parsley, chopped
3 TBS fresh green onions, chopped
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 cloves chopped garlic
2 oz jar pimentos (I can never find a 2 oz jar so I use 1/2 of a 4 oz jar)
For this competition I doubled the recipe, but I ran out so I should have tripled it. A single batch is usually adequate for a party or shower. I marinated the cheeses in a Tupperware dish overnight and then put together my serving dish once I arrived to the event. I'm glad I brought paper towels to clean up the extra oil on the dish! We were asked to plate three plates, one for each of the judges.
Here is a shot of Andrea's lovely plated salads, all ready for the judges!
Grapes and Pasta Salad
1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 TBS lemon juice
1-2 tsp onion (grated onion)
1 tsp Sweet Hungarian Paprika
1 tsp celery
3/4 cup light vegetable or canola oil
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
12 oz bow tie pasta, cooked & well-drained
1 pound baby salad greens
1 cup seedless red or green grapes, halved
3-4 green onions cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cups toasted pine nuts
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Place 1st eight ingredients in blender and blend at medium speed until all is blended. Place in small container and refrigerate until ready to serve.
In a large salad bowl, combine the next 5 ingredients and toss well. Sprinkle shredded cheese over all, toss with dressing just before serving.
Andrea brought all of her salad ingredients in a cooler, in separate containers. She made a small salad for each of the judges and once the people's choice voting came around, she mixed together a huge salad in her punch bowl! I make this salad frequently and everyone always loves it! It's a unique mix with the pasta and greens and the dressing is delish!
Each contestant was given two tickets to invite guests to vote for the "People's Choice Awards". My darling sister-in law Whitney and my adorable niece Halle counted as my first guest and my cute piano mom Claudia Nielson was gracious enough to be my 2nd taster!
I thought this was one of the coolest entries there!
I definitely want to learn to make something this fancy!
I thought this display for the Asian Salmon Burgers was cool.
They ended up winning the gold medal for main dish.
This was the awards table. Each Category was awarded a gold, silver and bronze. They also awarded a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place award for "People's Choice" and then tons of raffle drawings, just for entering!
Andrea took home the bronze for the side dish category! She won $50 cash, a $25 gift certificate to California Pizza Kitchen, a cookbook Cooking with Jaxon, a bronze charger and a bottle of Martineli's! Way to go Andrea!
Andrea was so excited about her winnings! She also won a raffle drawing! A gift certificate to Whole Foods and appetizers for two at Biaggis!
Andrea and I after the Awards Ceremony!
I also won a raffle drawing! A chocolate party for eight at The Melting Pot. We both agreed we definitely want to participate again next year and hopefully all of the other gourmet girls will join us!