I attended the annual Delray Beach, Florida Garlic Festival this past Valentine’s Day. A weekend long event celebrating the strong smelling, spicy flavored clove from the onion family. Chef Uniforms.com was one of the privileged sponsors of the event as we supplied the competing chefs with our luxurious executive chef coats embroidered with each chef’s restaurant logo, their name and our logo. The festivities also included vendors selling their garlic inspired food products, general family entertainment in the form of amusement park rides for the children and live music. However, the reason I was in attendance was to witness the Garlic Chef competition.
Garlic is widely used around the world for its strong flavor as a seasoning or condiment. The challenges for the chefs were to use identical ingredients and a mystery ingredient that they would only discover moments before they were to begin developing their recipes for the competition. The culinary masters have one hour to decide on what their dishes will be, prepare them, cook them and present them to a panel of judges.
Each meal the different chefs prepared for the event were outstanding. The speed in which they prepared their garlic inspired gourmet dishes was also incredibly impressive. The judges, which consisted of food critics, food magazine editors and restaurant industry professionals were descriptive and complimentary to each dish the chefs prepared for them.
One of the award winning meals during Saturdays competition that left a lasting impression on me, consisted of what appeared to my untrained eye to be a salad with skirt steak grilled medium rare over a bed of cold, crisp spinach leaves, accompanied with large crumbling pieces of feta cheese and cold black beans marinated in a garlic inspired vinaigrette dressing along with tomatoes and celery. The appetizer included the skirt steak smothered in a pesto garlic cream sauce placed between two pieces of Cuban bread. And finally the main course or entree was a mouth-watering presentation of skirt steak grilled medium rare over a bed of buttery mashed yucca with boiled asparagus and a breadcrumb garnish.
As I was only photographing the event, I unfortunately did not get to participate in the tasting. However, there is always next year. Perhaps I can persuade the event organizers to allow a lowly photographer the opportunity to exercise his palette with the wonderful dishes that are prepared for this annual event and competition.
On a quick side note, as I was unable to attend Sundays event I did not have the honor of witnessing the reigning 2008 Garlic Chef Champion Chef Andy Trousdale from Le Bistro. Chef Andy Trousdale put up a tough competition and was able to hold on to his top spot as the 2009 Garlic Fest Champion. Congratulations!
~ Kelly Tickner