It’s a privilege to be part of a food and drink judging panel. One witnesses wild creativity from up-and-coming stars as well as established greats in the field. Competitions are where food geniuses take risks, and step out further than the bounds of set menus sometimes allow.
Here are two upcoming contests I’ll be judging: one for cocktails up in Napa (wine country bartenders, please apply!) and one in SF showcasing five local chefs creating gourmet sausage recipes.
2nd Annual Wine Country Cocktail Competition
Head to Calistoga’s Solage Resort on a Monday night to support your favorite wine country bartender. The mixologists will compete for best cocktail using two winning products: Charbay’s exceptional spirits and Perfect Purée of Napa Valley’s purees and concentrates. Top three winners get cash prizes, while first place gets to participate in a drink photo shoot at Perfect Purée’s headquarters. Bartenders work with ingredients like Perfect Purée’s yuzu luxe sour and carmelized pineapple concentrate, and are allowed to use any base spirit from Charbay’s portfolio, from vodkas to rum (with the exception of its Whiskey Release II, Nostalgie, and brandy).
The last Charbay-Perfect Purée contest I judged at Rye delivered many memorable beauties. Wine country in the spring is already worth an excursion north, and if you attend the contest you can experience a growing cocktail scene in a region traditionally dominated by wine – not to mention a showcase of two of the area's best local products.
Monday, May 16, 6-8 p.m., free
The Solage Resort
755 Silverado Trail, Calistoga
Mark your calendars for what will be one of the most fun competitions of the summer. Tres Restaurant is the setting, and $10 is an oh-so-right price to sample five unique recipes featuring Saag's Sausage. Here's the meat of the competition: five popular Bay Area chefs will vie for best tailgating sausage recipe. You'll get to sample each entry, along with classic game day sides like potato salad and coleslaw, then vote on who you think is top dog of the night. You'll take home a swag bag stuffed with sausage samples, recipes, and more -- the winning chef gets $250. Best of all, all ticket proceeds benefit Food Runners of San Francisco.
Monday, June 20, 6:30-8:30 p.m., $10
130 Townsend, SF
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