Saturday, August 8, 2009

Food for thought: Make it competitive.

A few of the dearest people I know, and I, had a cooking throwdown in the spirit of Iron Chef. The secret ingredient was corn, there were 2 teams, and each team had 2 hours to prepare an appetizer, entree, and dessert using the secret ingredient.

To legitimize this contest, we randomly selected 2 members of our rowdy bunch to act as judges. Both judges had to scrutinize each appetizer, entree, and dessert based on four criteria: Originality, Taste, Texture, and Presentation. Each criteria had a five point scale (1 being the lowest, 5 being the highest.) The team with the most points was proclaimed winner.

When the dishes were ready to be presented, there was a noticeable difference between the two teams. Team 1 chose a heavier fare (applesauce-cornbread, mini corndogs with sauces, meatballs bespeckled with corn kernels and served with mashed potatoes, Popcorn-crispies made with marshmallows and chocolate, and cornflour blinis with cream,) while Team 2 went lighter (cornbread flecked with bacon, croissants filled with creamed corn and bacon, chicken fajitas with corn salsa and crema fresca, and creamed corn vanilla ice cream.)

In addition, Team 1 prepared a "Corn Drink" (the recipe of which remains a well guarded secret) and Team 2 prepared Sangria (sorry, no corn, just Sangria.)

Finally, as if to top off the hilarity of our dishes, the table was decorated with grilled bacon-wrapped-corn centerpieces.

When judging finally began, it was obvious--from my perspective-- who the winner was. Unfortunately for Team 1, as it was summer in the blistering heat of the desert, our two lady judges favored the overall "light and refreshing" presentation and flavors of Team 2.

After prizes and bragging rights were handed out, the real fun began: eating the food. Competition can really work up an appetite.