Monday, April 16, 2012

Stomach, the Jury

This is what the judges' table looked like after Saturday's Winter Wine Down to benefit the Santa Barbara Muscular Dystrophy Association, even short a judge and with a whole bunch of our food sample containers already carted away. It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it. And at times it is tough--you try to evaluate the presentation of dishes delivered in styrofoam takeout boxes (let me tell you this, it's not the best thing to open one and find chunks of beef in a sauce).

Here are some secrets to doing well as a restaurant at an event like this:

1) Enter a category that no one else enters. You win! (Now please go learn how to make a better Asian chicken salad--more chicken would be good start, and if not more, then at least less cooked chicken that you do include.)
2) If you food is sauced and you don't know when the judges are going to get it, don't serve it on bread. Yum, soggy bread!
3) A piece of mozzarella, a basil leaf, and a tomato on a spear is not a side dish.
4) Make sure the judges are drinking some good wine when they have your food. Tercero, Beckmen, and that Piedrasassi that Winehound was pouring all good choices. The one winery serving their Tempranillo at a sun-warmed 85°, a spit-take inducing choice. (OK, the food purveyors didn't get to mingle with us as an intern served as our food runner, so no bribing of any sort went on and all food entries were anonymous.)

Congrats to SOhO for winning best meat dish and best overall--they won both unanimously. Bob Hansen is cranking out his family's recipe ribs and they're lovely, especially with the cilantro liberally sprinkled atop--makes them decidedly Santa Barbaran.

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