This weekend I had an amazing opportunity to be at judge at Marietta Square Farmers Market Culinary Competition. Thomas James Sparvka contacted me a few weeks ago and asked if I would be a judge and of course I immediately accepted.
Two chefs from nearby restaurants would have 1 hour to shop the Marietta Square Farmers Market for ingredients and 1 hour to prepare an appetizer and a main course with the produce that they purchased. Chef April Higdon from Johnnie Mackracken’s was up against Chef Micah Pfister from Simpatico’s.
Along with my fellow judges, Tara of Saucy Mouth and Mike “GadgetGeek” of 285 Foodies, we had to judge the dishes based on taste, plating and how well the dishes reflected the diversity of the Farmers Market. It was a tough job but somebody had to do it, and that somebody might as well be me!
Did I tell you that it was being filmed? And did I mention a large crowd gathered in the square to see what all the excitement was about? Yes…at first I felt as though I was under a microscope but quickly got over it once the competition was underway. While the Chefs cooked there was a demonstration by the Georgia Coalition for Physical Activity and Nutrition whose mission was to showcase the healthy and economical advantages of shopping at the Farmers Market. Afterwards, Tara, Mike and I browsed the Market to familiarize ourselves with what’s available and let me tell you, if you haven’t been you need to go. There’s an amazing array of fresh fruits, vegetables, artisan cheeses, baked goods, flowers and much more; the Chefs were lucky to have such an amazing assortment. After we picked up some things for ourselves we headed back to the Square to snap photos, mingle with the contestants and get ready for the best part-eating!
Both Chefs had to incorporate a mystery ingredient into their main dishes, which were pork short ribs. Chef Micah was all about the bounty of the Farmer Market and utilized the ingredients well.
He prepared a sweet fennel and peach salad with local cheese, braised short ribs with succotash and a bonus dish with more of that amazing local cheese and tomatoes on a crostini….it was amazing!
Chef April’s flavorful summer gazpacho showcased the wide variety of vegetables. She also prepared green eggs and ham on a bed of hash browns and as a surprise she prepared beer ice cream with peaches and bee pollen….beer ice cream people, beer!!! I was quite partial to the crostini with the tomatoes, it was definitely the star. After we ate, and ate and ate…did I mention that it was in front of a large audience? Yeah…eating under a microscope..but I digress. Once the eating was over we got down to business and turned in our scores. And the winner was *drum roll please* Chef April. It was an amazing event and the Chefs were great sports. Thanks to Thomas for putting together a great event.