Tuesday, November 17, 2015

World Food Championships

Long time, no see. That's because I was doing a bit of traveling this month. I had gone off to the World Food Championships held in Celebration, Florida. This is the same place where our own Pangaea Cafe, winners of the Sacramento Burger Battle, were off to compete against the best in the nation...and the world.

In actuality, I was at the blogger component, a conference called Food Fight Write. I was among about 40 other bloggers from across the United States and even one from Myanmar, thus contributing to the World component. The real goal of Food Fight Write (FFW) was to bring in bloggers to promote the World Food Championships (WFC) and "food sport" or competitions.

This was the fourth year for the WFC. Prior to this they had been held in Las Vegas. The creators of the WFC had the idea to create the equivalent of the Olympics or the Superbowl — for food. After all, every year there are regional cook-offs at events or State fairs for everything from chili, to barbecue, to desserts. The idea was to have a final arena for these regional winners to compete and claim the ultimate title of World's Best.

The competition categories are: dessert, pasta, recipe, chili, barbecue, burgers, sandwiches, bacon, seafood, and steak. Dishes are judged based on the EAT methodology of Execution, Appearance, and Taste. This year the competitors included 17 countries and 40 States.

Each category has two stages of cook-off. The first stage sets everyone to prepare two dishes — their signature and a "structured" dish that has create their own spin on the same basic dish.  The top 10 then go on to compete in the finals where they must use a specific ingredient . The winner wins $10,000.  The winner of each category then goes to a final competition where they compete for the $100,000 grand prize and title of Best Dish.

For this endeavor the competitions took place in two places. In downtown Celebration, where I spent my time, there were 50 cooking stations set up down their main street. Every station was equipped with brand new Kenmore Pro Series appliances that included: range, microwave, toaster oven, gas grill, food processor, standing mixer, blender, pots and pans. Every few stations shared a refrigerator.

The other location was at the Westgate Resorts where the barbecue and burger competitions took place. I believe the reason is that they had more than 50 competitors and also that they had a range of barbecues available and there was more concern for fire danger.

I should mention that Pangaea just BARELY missed the top 10 by like fractions. Good job though! VERY close to cracking the top 10.

Our pantry selections
Meanwhile I had the lovely honor of competing as well. We actually were the first to use the Kenmore kitchens in an "all in fun" cooking competition. It was designed to  make us see what it's like to participate in a cooking competition with the timing, judging, etc. We had to use filet mignon from Kansas City Steaks as well as one of six sauces from Saucy Mama. I knew everyone would be cooking, so I chose to do a steak tartare. Let's just say at least I didn't come in last place.

My overall impression is that someday the WFC will be a huge deal. Right now it's still in growing pains. They've chosen to stay in Celebration for the next five or so years. While I understand that it's easy to keep coming back to the same place logistics-wise, downtown Celebration is small and I just can't see tens of thousands of people crowding and attending it there. 

Each year there is sure to be more sponsors. Last year Kenmore wasn't one, this year they are. Also, celebrities will help as well as the TV coverage that takes place by some of the food networks. 

Meanwhile, Sacramento should try to send more competitors in more categories besides burgers. I hope to see that grow as well. 

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