I spent the evening sitting next to a hipster with a patchy beard who appeared to have skipped a shower or two. That’s the look people try to capture these days and I knew I was at some pretentious art scene event when I spied Mr. Shiny Hair sipping a Heineken.
Now that I pause to think about it, this was a hackneyed attempt at trying to marry the vegetable culture with the art world. I’m not complaining as I’m a self-admitted hack. As a matter of fact, Ben Franklin would call me a hack of all trades.
The “mystery ingredient” I selected was tomatoes. Simple enough. I thought about spaghetti, but there were only two mystery ingredients to choose from. I needed something different to stand out from the other tomato infused dishes.
I suddenly realized what I was going to create yesterday after church. I decided upon carnitas (über braised pork that I nestled In soft corn tortillas). I tossed in some tomatoes, but the star was going to be the salsa. Salsa is pretty typical for tomatoes, so I added cantaloupe and mint. It was more cantaloupe than tomato, but it went great with the pork tacos.
I really didn’t think the competition was going to be a big deal but I was competing with sixty-five other contestants. As I waited on the judges to do their work, I was hit with a wave of flop sweat. I tried to focus on a gaunt senior citizen wearing a CamelBak. I couldn’t help but notice his steampunk glasses that appeared to be a horse blinder but I decided it was either a monocle to give him X-Ray vision or it was a tiny rearview mirror. I only wish he had a steampunk time machine so I could skip the waiting.
I often question my abilities as I’m self taught. Granted, I have learned a lot from my chef buddies on Mercy Chef deployments, but I was curious to see how I fared among a sea of strangers.
The panel of judges consisted of chefs at great restaurants and I was competing with chefs. I could tell I was over my head when I saw the presentation of the dishes. I left out the hoity and the toity. Most everything else looked like it belonged on magazine covers.
I was shocked when I received an honorable mention. Even my great friend, Chef John, congratulated me and called me Chef. That means a lot coming from a chef of his caliber.
I don’t know if I’ll do another competition as the flop sweat is a killer, but I’m quite satisfied with an honorable mention. Oh, and one of the judges from the west coast said that this was something he would serve at his restaurant.