I came out of judging my first food judging competition with such a charge I vowed to go through the training next year to become a certified judge.
I was honoured, along with Mayor Sharon Gaetz and fellow reporter Paul Henderson, to be asked by organizers of the Big Red Barn Burner BBQ competition to assist with judging the garlic competition.
The task was sampling and judging in the Chef’s Choice, a sideline event to the main certified barbecue competition presented by Well Seasoned. In this round, the chefs would be using a variety of fresh, local garlic grown at Fantasy Farms in Chilliwack to make garlic the star ingredient.
Would I? Could I, was my gob-smacked response.
Mayben Amos, head barbecue judge, was giving us judging tips before our services were required to taste a handful of garlic entries.
There was to be no comparing with other judges or talking during the actual judging time when we are scoring the entries. No talking? What the?
But from the minute I got there it was a rich learning experience. Listen, I have a real love affair with garlic and I was born ready for this.
I had my score card, doggie bag, pen, spoon, knife and fork all ready, and was happy to accept a beautiful commemorative t-shirt after we were done.
So here’s what I picked up.
If it’s the best thing you have ever eaten, given the chef’s description, you can score at 10. It’s perfect, really and the taste is everything you’d expect and very appealing.
A 6 is nothing special; completely average.
If there’s something unidentifiable in the dish, like gravel from the parking lot, it’s an automatic disqualification, the dreaded DQ, that only the head judge can administer.
With barbecue meats there are set standards. With a garlic-based competition it was all over the culinary map.
We ended up judging five of the competition offerings. The soup presented to our table, French Garlic Soup, was a satisfying creamy garlic infused soup garnished nicely with tiny bits of chives and bacon.
Then it was on to the garlic-studded pork roast, served with re-constructed super-garlicky ceasar salad, and garlic roast bell peppers.
The lemon garlic custard was part of a wickedly beautiful trio. The custard was garnished with a tasty bacon biscotti and the decorative sugar item held garlic seeds suspended within it.
We were instructed to weigh each entry on its own merits, according to the savvy advice offered by Angie Quaale of Well Seasoned.
Because really, how can you compare garlic soup to pork roast, salad and peppers?
Presentation counted. Along with texture and taste, appearance of the food was the first measure we used to determine scores.
It was a garlic-a-palooza, sometimes roasted subtley into the dish, sometimes almost raw and crushed to shining glory. Or a tiny garlic seed, placed in a decorative sugar item, that made you gasp in delight.
There was everything from soup to nuts, both literally and figuratively.