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Judging For Juniors

June 6, 2011

Being a food judge is hard work. Okay, it’s not hard work like digging ditches or working in a coal mine. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. I find that it takes a lot of thoughtful consideration, especially when trying to rank dishes with varying strengths and weaknesses. I’m not complaining. It is a lot of fun and I really love doing it. Which is why I consider myself very lucky to have these opportunities.

The World Barista Challenge this past weekend really inspired me to look into how people become sensory judges. If you watched any of the footage, these guys are the ones who are served the three rounds of coffee and push the foam aside with the spoon to evaluate its depth. They have to drink a lot of coffee, but I think in the end the jitters would be worth it.

So that project is now added to my ongoing to do list, which is filling up with burning hot items. Not least of which is this cupcake challenge. I think I need to solicit a research assistant on that one. Volunteers?

But I want to tell you about another event that is coming up a week from today. It’s for charity and about food. Plus, I’ll be there to help judge it.

The event is called A Taste of the Capital Region and is a benefit for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Schenectady. The way I understand it, there are about 25 professional chefs and about 15 amateur chefs who will be cooking up delicious things to eat for the attendees.

It is on Monday, June 13 at 721 Curry Road from 6pm to 8pm and tickets cost $50. You can even buy them online. The ticket price includes complimentary valet parking, admission to the event and a cookbook containing recipes for all of the evening’s entrees, appetizers and desserts.  I don’t know exactly what they are planning to serve for drinks, but I do know that there will be some form of alcohol and that it is included in the price of admission.

As for me, I’ll have to keep my wits about. That means demonstrating some fierce restraint in the face whatever potables might cloud my judgment.

Tasting and evaluating forty dishes is no small feat, especially in a limited amount of time. I think back to the Albany Chefs’ Food and Wine Festival, where there were some standout dishes, but a lot of lackluster performances. But mixing amateur chefs into the fray I think will be very interesting. I recall some people being more impressed with the home cooks than the pros at the Jewish Food Festival a while ago.

Anyway, I do hope some of you can make it out. It would be great to see you there. Maybe I can introduce you to Chef Christopher Tanner who invited me to participate in this thing, and who also was part of the team behind last weekend’s Mangalista dinner.

Maybe I should ask if he saved any lardo.

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