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Ethan Ray

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Re: BLT, and other Hot Sandwich Challange...

by Ethan Ray » Mon Aug 04, 2008 9:18 pm

Robin Garr wrote:And the winnners are ...

Stephen
Ethan
Dan
Marsha

... in that order, but there were NO losers in this fight. Details to follow, scores and points upon request. :)


I really don't remember the scoring and point breakdown, but if the other challengers aren't opposed, it'd be nice to have the scoring and points breakdown, and all the judging details.
Ethan Ray




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Jackie R.

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Re: BLT, and other Hot Sandwich Challange...

by Jackie R. » Mon Aug 04, 2008 9:28 pm

By the way, Ethan, damn your dish was XCELLENT! So neat in every way. So freakin interesting and every bite tasty.
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Marsha L.

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Re: BLT, and other Hot Sandwich Challange...

by Marsha L. » Mon Aug 04, 2008 9:30 pm

Jackie R. wrote:By the way, Ethan, damn your dish was XCELLENT! So neat in every way. So freakin interesting and every bite tasty.


Yes! Ethan's girl Sara's bread was great, and how about smoked ice cream? That was amazing. Kudos to everyone!
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Re: BLT, and other Hot Sandwich Challange...

by Jackie R. » Mon Aug 04, 2008 9:38 pm

I really did love the inadvertent judging on my own, and I could not have been a critic to any of the contestants. Every version was a gold medal. That said, Steven's version was such a shock. It did NOT look like it would have the layers of flavor that it did. He really went over the top. I thought it tasted like a high class BLT but could have have been showcased in a museum.
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Re: BLT, and other Hot Sandwich Challange...

by Suzi Bernert » Mon Aug 04, 2008 9:59 pm

I don't remember all the point breakdowns, Robin has them, but there was only 9 points difference between all the scores. The quality of each presentation was fantastic and like Robin said, there were NO losers. Thanks for letting me judge, but it was a LOT harder than I thought it would be. :shock: Critiquing someone's work is very difficult, especially when you know the players. Determining the subleties of layered flavors and trying to put a number to it was the hardest. Thank you chefs for your hard work, wonderfull flavors and originality. Thank you David for your hospitality (and a fantastic sorbet!). Thanks to everyone who brought all the fantastic sides and those wonderful tomatoes!!

I think a good time was had by all and all the "trash talk" was in good fun. I have a list of bacons to buy now, so I can continue my research and some wonderfull tomotoes to pair them with. :D
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Re: BLT, and other Hot Sandwich Challange...

by Jackie R. » Mon Aug 04, 2008 11:10 pm

oh yeahhh... I forgot to praise the hierloom tomato sorbet. David thought it was "basil heavy", but I thought not. I could sit for a spell and eat that frozen slush without regret that it was devoid of excess sugar and cream. I really loved it. Really, really loved it. And I loved the conversations that I had with forumites today about tomatoes being "the one". They are definately my "one". Thanks, John, for the take away bag. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
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Robin Garr

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Re: BLT, and other Hot Sandwich Challange...

by Robin Garr » Tue Aug 05, 2008 7:37 am

Ethan Ray wrote:I really don't remember the scoring and point breakdown, but if the other challengers aren't opposed, it'd be nice to have the scoring and points breakdown, and all the judging details.

Unless anyone opposes - and I hear no voices to the contrary - I'll transcribe and key in the breakdown and my own personal judging notes this morning later. I may also feature this event as part of my LEO column for the following week, again if not of the participants object. :)
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Beth K.

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Re: BLT, and other Hot Sandwich Challange...

by Beth K. » Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:10 am

I'd love to hear about the sammies too. How did they differ? Please, indulge me.
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Re: BLT, and other Hot Sandwich Challange...

by Steve A » Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:35 am

What, no photos? Without photos, all I'm left with is drool on my keyboard.
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Re: BLT, and other Hot Sandwich Challange...

by Robin Garr » Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:54 am

Beth K. wrote:I'd love to hear about the sammies too. How did they differ? Please, indulge me.

I'm workin' on it! :D
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Re: BLT, and other Hot Sandwich Challange...

by Robin Garr » Tue Aug 05, 2008 9:56 am

Steve A wrote:What, no photos? Without photos, all I'm left with is drool on my keyboard.

I'm workin' on it! This is a PROJECT!

I've almost got the notes transcribed, so I'll post my personal report (can't speak for the other judges), the specific descriptions, and the scores very shortly.

I took a bunch of shots, and Melissa R took over my camera while I judged and took more; I'll pull those out in PhotoShop and upload at least a few later in the day. I saw a lot of other cameras there, too, so come on, folks!
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Rebecca Clark

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Re: BLT, and other Hot Sandwich Challange...

by Rebecca Clark » Tue Aug 05, 2008 10:02 am

Here's my take on the evening ...

Stephen's BLT was amazing ... he even had narration going on as he assembled "The Barnyard and the ????" (field?). His BLT was in the form of sushi; each piece had various flavors and textures exploding in one's mouth. Imaginative and delicious all in one (or maybe two) delectable bites. I wish his creation was served at the sushi bar ... it was that good! I could eat "the Barnyard" for lunch today ... even after so many different types of BLT! I thoroughly enjoyed watching this creation come to life and the taste was even better. Well done, Stephen and congratulations!

Dan's BLT was on focaccia bread and was also yummy. The bread made the entire sandwich have a completely different taste than the traditional BLT. It was a messy delight. Since I do not use very much salt, the bacon was a bit salty for my taste, but the sandwich was divine! I loved the way he snaked the entire sandwich around on the platter.

Marsha's creation was more in the vein of the traditional BLT ... and boy, was it tasty. I LOVED this bacon ... Broadbent Bacon ... extremely tasty and the smell was intoxicating. Excellent bread (wink, wink Marsha!) and that bacon ... mmmm mmmm! I liked the soft outside of the bread and the toasted inside ... just enough crunch with a touch of chewiness.

Ethan ... dude, I was blown away by your creativity. Who would have ever thought to put embers IN the milk? (and thanks for straining it!!!) I would have never, in a hundred years, thought that I would have liked your BLT. It was so interesting to hear you and your lady talk about the creation. And those little dishes ... they were so cute! I am very impressed with your skills! The sourdough bread was excellent ... the entire BLT was an experience that words fail to capture. You are gifted.

In addition to those scrumptious morsels, the brownies, graham cracker stuff that melted in your mouth, potato salad, watermelon, hummus, coleslaw, bean salad ... and oh, the tomatoes! I left feeling stuffed to the gills and so happy that I had the pleasure of watching these wonderful chefs create such tantalizing treats for us. Visiting with all the forumites was an added bonus ... so nice to now have faces to go along with the names!

I did not envy the judges one bit. Each BLT was unique in its own right and they were ALL tremendous. I offer congratulations to all for a quality and entertaining evening. We need to do this on a more regular basis! :)
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Re: BLT, and other Hot Sandwich Challange...

by Robin Garr » Tue Aug 05, 2008 10:21 am

Rebecca Clark wrote:We need to do this on a more regular basis! :)

I'd be happy to help make that happen! Maybe some events have "amateur" cooks compete, some events the pros, and maybe on occasion a free-for-all ... can a giften home cook outcook a chef!?
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My report on the competition! (very long)

by Robin Garr » Tue Aug 05, 2008 10:44 am

As I said last night in announcing these results, it was a hellishly difficult chore for the judges to pick a winner, and it was particularly frustrating in that the scoring system we decided to use - the original Iron Chef Japan - with three judges each awarding up to 10 points for taste and 5 each for presentation and originality for a possible maximum of 60 per contestant - tended to reward the offbeat, deliciously "weird" entries at the expense of the delicious but more traditional entries. Next time we do one of these things, to make it even closer, we may re-visit the scoring system. Still, all four contestants have a lot to be proud of - all the entries were spectacular. Thanks to Deb and Suzi for joining me as judges. I sure wouldn't have wanted to do it alone!

Curiously, the contestants drew straws to determine the order, and totally by coincidence, this order turned out to place the four contestants in order from most traditional to most far-out, and in increasing order of point scores. Congrats to Stephen Dennison for taking the prize, but we really did have four winners last night.

It was tough to take detailed notes at the same time as judging and talking, so all of you, chefs and judges, who find nits to pick with my details or descriptions, please jump in. Here are my comments and the detailed scores.

Marsha Lynch, Pastry Chef, Cafe Lou Lou

Marsha went the traditional route, fashioning a fairly standard BLT heightened by the use of high-quality ingredients and careful prep. Honey wheat from By Bread Alone was stacked with Broadbent's pepper bacon, Kentucky Bibb lettuce, watercress, avocado and roasted garlic aioli, with a bit of Irish butter for good luck, and garnished with a crisp, tart homemade refrigerator pickle and a perfect grape tomato. The taste was excellent, although some of the judges felt that the bacon's high level of smokiness overcame the tomato; and it won loads of points for presentation, for its look and for the pretty Fiestaware-color plates she presented them on. Unfortunately, the Iron Chef judging criteria, which reward creativity and punish traditionalism, hurt Marsha on the points scale, although I heard her sammy was, for many, the People's Choice.

Taste, 23; presentation, 13; originality, 8, total 44.

Dan Thomas, Chef, Big Spring Country Club

Dan also went with a fairly traditional approach but kicked it up a bit by building a triangular sandwich on three-cheese-and-onion focaccia. Three flavors of Father's brand bacon - hickory-smoke, Cajun and pepper - added complexity to the B, with the L and the T covered by hydroponic Bibb lettuce, a mix of Better Boy and yellow tomatoes. Garnishes of guacamole, separate dollops of pesto and ranch mayo, and a toothpicked garnish of cocktail olive, pickled radish, Chicago sport pepper and kosher dill cornichon pulled it all together. So many flavors! Yet they all worked together remarkably well, complex but not busy. Dan's entry pretty much topped the group in the flavor department, and as he had said, the Father's bacon was spectacular; but he did lose a few presentation points for a "wet" sandwich that tended to fall apart in the judges' hands and run down our arms.

Taste, 29; presentation, 7; originality, 10, total 46.

Ethan Ray, Pastry Chef, the Oakroom

Now we started to move from the traditionalists toward the wild-eyed radicals, as both of the next two chefs thought far, far outside the box in putting their entry together. Ethan's, presented on a small white curvilinear plate, was an open-face work of art that essentially deconstructed the BLT and then put it back together again in a new form. An oval of savory sourdough french toast went down first, topped with yellow tomatoes concentrated into a gel; bits of Allan Benton's Tennessee hickory smoked bacon went on top, with the admirably offbeat addition of what Ethan alled "faux mayo," pure cream ice cream infused with a touch of smoke! Micro mezuna on top made a delicate substitute for lettuce, and a shake of bourbon-barrel smoked salt heightened the bacon-smoky theme. It was a microgastronomy concept worthy of an acolyte of El Bulli's Ferrà Adrian, and it wowed the judges, who gave all-but-unanimous top scores for both presentation and originality. In the flavor department, as you might expect from such an offbeat concept, things got a little more controversial. All the judges liked it, but flavor scores were less consistent than the two previous entries, and discussion centered on how successful the bold effort had been. The overall flavors were great, and the combined textures were right on, but the ice cream - not the smoke, which was subtle, but the cream - seemed to dominate the sandwich and defeat the complexity that Ethan was obviously shooting for. Still, borne on his top grades for looks and creativity, he moved into the lead at this point.

Taste, 22; presentation, 14; originality, 14, total 50.

Stephen Dennison, Key Employee, Varanese

Just when we thought Ethan had raised the bar beyond reach, along came Stephen with an even more off-the-wall effort: BLT sushi! I am not kidding about this! Stephen built a pair of sushi-maki (rolls) that he evocatively called "from the barnyard to the rice paddy," recommending that the "barnyard" roll be eaten first. I'm sure I missed some items, and even Stephen himself forgot to mention the Hudson Valley Camembert in one of the rolls. But it went something like this: The "barnyard" roll, so named for its earthy flavors, was a futomaki-size sushi-style roll of German rye bread, not rice, wrapped around applewood-smoked bacon, the meat of roma tomatoes, caraway seeds and pickle, touched with an artful stripe of buckwheat honey and black molasses scented with Chinese Five Spice and a dash of cayenne; alfalfa sprouts went on top as garnish. The "rice paddy" roll was a standard short-grain rice roll around Broadbent Kentucky Country bacon and arugula, a dill pickle slice on top, a Middle Eastern spice ("zatora"? Stephen, help me out here), topped with Sichuan pepper aioli, tomato "caviar" and pulverized Telicherry pepper. The "barnywrd," as noted, was earthy and complex, with the Camembert making a definite statement, sweetness on the back palate, but bacon and rye always coming through. The "rice paddy" roll could have turned up in a real sushi bar and no one would have been too surprised. The judges did think the BLT concept got a little lost in this one (although it was there full force in the "barnyard," but overall, this effort ultimately took top honors because it successfully bridged spectacular creativity while retaining respect for the BLT character.

Taste, 25; presentation, 15; originality, 14, total 54.

Thanks to all who brought goodies - busy with judging, I didn't get a good handle on who brought what, but Dave Pierce's tomato confit and Andrea E's wonderful brownies from her Q&A Sweet Treats cannot fail to be mentioned.
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Some BLT pictures

by Robin Garr » Tue Aug 05, 2008 11:19 am

Okay, on a quick run through my photo card, here are photos of the four food entries. I'll go back later today and see if there are some other fun shots of forum personalities.

Marsha's simple, high-quality BLT, colorfully plated:
marsha.jpg
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Dan's focaccia-based BLTs, set up on service trays:
dan.jpg
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Ethan's open-face deconstructed BLT under construction (shown in yellow-tomato gel stage). I'm still looking for a shot of the finished product and will run it in when I find one.
ethan.jpg
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Stephen's winning BLT sushi - "Barnyard" roll in front, "Rice Paddy" roll behind:
stephen.jpg
stephen.jpg (73.47 KiB) Viewed 2755 times
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