Friday Culinary judging, a sweet job
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[August 06, 2019]
morning at the Logan County Fair always means that one lucky person
needs to eat sweets. Yes, needs. The judge of the Culinary judging
candies, cakes, and snack foods had a very sweet job for about two
hours Friday morning as she carefully went through the multiple
entries in each of the three primary categories.
The, judge, Pat McAllister, is a teacher and as
such she said that she felt compelled to teach as she went. Being an
educated expert on foods, her words carried a lot of weight for
those who were on hand to watch the proceedings.
In the three categories this year, there were fewer entries than in
past years, especially in the cakes.
McAllister started out saying that we all consume food in a similar
manner, starting with our eyes. Food needs to look appetizing. Her
first class to judge, candies, need to show uniform size and texture
on the plate. She warned cooks to be aware when they are preparing
their entries of what the weather conditions are or will be. She
noted that certain weather conditions will cause undesirable
stickiness in a product and the cook needs to adjust accordingly.
The first category in the candy class was Peanut Cluster and there
were several entries. McAllister looked, touched and tasted each
entry before making her placing decisions. The first place winner
for that category was Allison Matthews.
In the Peanut Brittle category there was only one entry belonging to
Kathy Buse. McAllister examined and tasted the candy then noted that
there are judges who say that a single entry does not necessarily
warrant a first place finish. However, she doesn’t think that way.
She said that if there is one entry, then it’s the best entry there,
and as such must be given a first place award.
Chocolate Fudge without marshmallow crème was the next category with
a number of entries. McAllister noted that she did touch each piece
of candy because she was looking for something that was tender and
not too dry. She also talked about the judging process, saying that
there are competitions where a team of judges are asked to evaluate
the entries. With a team she said there were differences of opinion
and compromise involved in selecting a best of the best.
When there is only one judge, it is just one judge’s opinion. She
said what she really likes, another judge might completely disagree
and vice versa. Therefore she concluded, “Mine is an opinion.
Someone else might not agree, so don’t be crushed if your entry
doesn’t win first prize.”
The winner of the category was Melinda Lessen.
There were three entries in the Caramels category. Each of the
plates were to contain three pieces of candy individually wrapped.
The winning candy in that category was that of Rebecca Johnson.
Most all of the candy and snack food participants had dropped off
their entries but did not stay for the judging. Rebecca Johnson was
on hand because she would later be talking with the cake winners
about competing in the Sunday Cake Classic.
Rebecca posed for a picture with her blue ribbon candy.
[to top of second column]
In the Fudge with Marshmallow crème there were
several entries. McAllister judged each one in a similar style to
the previous candies. She did at one point remove three pieces of
candy brought to her on a dark red plate and placed them on a white
plate. She explained that the fair book did not specify that the
plate had to be white, but that contestants should be aware that the
color of the plate will alter the visual impact of an item, so use
caution when plating on colored plates.
The winner of the category was Kathy Buse.
Moving on, McAllister was next called on to judge the Pretzel Treat
category. She noted that on snack foods and candies, creativity is
one factor in the judging. However, one particular entry was just a
little too creative for her personal taste.
The entry was a plate with three mice on it. The mice
had been carefully constructed with a bark coated pretzel as the
base. A Marciano Cherry complete with stem was the body of each
mouse. The head was a candy kiss with pale pink candy pearls for
eyes and sliced almonds for ears.
McAllister said that many, many people would consider the treat to
be cute, but for herself, she grew up in an old farmhouse, and mice
were not cute. She did however examine and taste the candy. As she
raised it to her mouth she commented, “This takes guts.”
The winner in the pretzel treat category was Julie Cross.
The Caramel Corn category had three entries with Darlene Crider
being named the winner. Crider also won the Trail Mix category.
The largest group of the day in the snack foods was that of the No
Bake Cereal Treats. McAllister had a number of entries to examine
and taste. She took her time and in the end chose the entry
submitted by Gail O’Donohue.
McAllister did note that on judging day, the judges will be looking
at the finished product in front of them. She said that what is
intended when creating the entry is not necessarily what comes out
in the end. The judge doesn’t know if the product presented is what
the contestant intended for it to look and taste like. The judge
works in the here and now.
That concluded the candies and snack food judging and McAllister
then moved on to judging of the cakes.