Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in this year’s Solebrate! Food & Music Festival that’s held annually at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Hilliard, OH. I was invited by Christy Clark of Destination Hilliard, and Greg Butauski, who runs Rock on Ice and Art the Experience, to come and serve as a judge in this year’s food art competition. I was honored to accept the invitation, but really had no idea what to expect since I had never judged a food carving competition before….
When I arrived, there were tables set up with boxes and boxes of melons, pineapple, and other fruits and veggies that would soon give their lives in the name of art. After meeting the other judges, and a short meeting to brief us on the rules and to answer any questions, the competition began and the contestants started assembling their stations.
They had an hour to assemble their bases, and would later add detail and life to their sculptures. The contestants were chefs from all over the country, including some from Colorado, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and several from right here in central Ohio.
While they were setting up, I took the opportunity to check out some of the other cool things at the festival, including the sand sculpting displays. This was my favorite, and eventually the 2nd place winner, Castle Grayskull!!
My fellow judges took advantage of the down time by creating carvings of their own. I was joined by retired chef and former culinary instructor at the University of Akron, Richard Alford, and Nicole Bennet, who is a culinary instructor at Columbus Culinary Institute. Greg joined us for a while as well to do some carving.
After an hour, we judged the structures based on a listing of several categories. Food art judging is no joke!! All of the sculptures looked great at this point.
After a short break, the chefs got back into creating the details for their sculptures. This was their chance to add all of those special touches to make their pieces come alive!!
Just a look down one side of the line of sculptures…
After the time limit expired, judging for the final product began. I took the opportunity to capture just a few of my favorites…
This one was a favorite of a lot of people.
The dragon eventually won 3rd place overall, and was picked as the “People’s Choice” winner.
The grand prize, 1st place winner was this awesome, underwater scene. The detail on this sculpture was fantastic, and the picture doesn’t really do it justice.
It was an incredible day, despite the energy-draining heat. I had a blast and hope to be able to participate again next year. I really enjoy the extra perks that writing this blog has afforded me – things that I would not have had the chance to do otherwise. It’s a lot of fun !!