2016 Great Garlic Cook-Off Winner
30 Jul 2016 by Jason
Rebecka Evans Wins Top Honors in 2016 Great Garlic Cook-Off!
Amateur chef Rebecka Evans from Danville, CA claimed the coveted garlic crown – and a $5,000 cash prize – as winner of the 2016 Great Garlic Cook-Off at the 2016 Gilroy Garlic Festival on Saturday, July 30, in Gilroy, CA.
Evans beat out seven other finalists from around the country with her original recipe, “Garlic Goat Cheese Bacon Soufflé with Creamy Garlic Mustard Sauce”.
Second place (and a $2,500 prize) was awarded to Veronica Callaghan for her Roasted Garlic Pizza with Spicy Rosemary Caramelized Onions, Figs and Bacon. Third place (and $1,000) was awarded to Kelly Velasco for her Garlic Risotto Stuffed Mussels with Garlic Herb Toast. The remaining contestants each received $100. All contestants prepared their own original recipes containing at least six cloves of garlic. Source: gilroygarlicfestival.com
Covering the Great Garlic Cook-off in 2015 (see the article and past winners here) from the perspective of a blog writer was a pleasure but as a food competitor, not so much! I was itching on the insides to be cooking on that stage and knew at that moment, I had to create a winning recipe for the 38th Annual, 2016 Great Garlic Cook-off.
This year, I not only garnered a place as one of the top eight finalists with my recipe, I won the coveted Gilroy Garlic Crown! You could have blown me over with a feather when they announced my name! Thank you esteemed judges, Gilroy Garlic Staff and assistants. I’m honored to be added to the list of Great Garlic Cook-Off Winners.
The Great Garlic Cook-Off offers the best set-up I’ve ever seen at a food competition stage.
- A large stadium with covered seating is beautifully decorated and complete with a Jumbotron so guests don’t miss any of the cooking action
- A working sink (with hot and cold running water) is situated between an awesome four(4) burner gas range with a full size oven
- Two large prep stations offer ample room to cook with ease
Gilroy’s generosity goes even further, offering each food competitor their own personal chaperone/sous! This group of talented men and woman can wait several years to be chosen as a Cook-Off chaperone. Each Chaperone is eager to offer their undivided attention and “stay calm” presence to the contestant. They are willing to carry heavy boxes of food and cooking paraphernalia to and from the stage, help with food prep, clean up our mess and other miscellaneous jobs, too numerous to count. They even wash all your dishes when your done!! After seeing them in action, I can attest that they are the backbone of the show!
Special thanks to my “Chaperone” Barbara Orth! She was a rock star behind the scenes, super chill under pressure and a blessing from above! I have a new friend and cooking partner for life! xoxo
My favorite aspects of Food Sport (besides winning of course) are making new friends, meeting new people, and competing and visiting with friends from across the country.
Meeting my long time Facebook friend, Veronica Callaghan for the first time and sharing top honors in the cook-off was the delightful! Despite our competitive natures and intent to win, we will be… “forever” friends.
Two longtime Facebook friends were also in attendance: Mary Edwards from Long Beach, CA cooked her dynamite dish for the judges: Lamb Tenderloin with Sweet Pea Risotto and Garlic Demi-Glace and Michaela Mercer Rosenthal, previous Great Garlic Cook-Off finalist. I’m so pleased to finally meet them both!!
I met Chef Jason Gronlund, Executive Chef and culinary strategist, Vice President of Culinary for Smokey Bones & Fire Grill and Judge for the Great Garlic Cook-off not to mention, Master of Ceremonies for several Gilroy Food Stage events.
Chef Jason was gracious enough to share his professional insights and advice as well as, offer his friendship to our group. He made fast friends with my husband Blake (pretty sure they are now drinking buddies for life) and offered to share his chef wisdom in the future. Believe me, I will be taking him up on the offer!
Last but not least, Lisa Keys, Owner of Good Grief Cook, Winner of Chopped Mother’s Day Edition and my dear friend, attended the Cook-off with media credentials. She covered the event with expertise and was my personal photographer for the day.
The list of other contenders and their delicious recipes (not in any specific order)
Andre Alban (Coconut Creek, FL)
Black Butter Skirt Steaks with Herb Garlic Mushrooms and Potatoes
Gloria Bradley (Naperville, IL)
Veggie Eggplant Mushroom Stacks, Green Chili Garlic Adobo & Peppadew Vinaigrette
Mary Edwards (Long Beach, CA)
Lamb Tenderloin with Sweet Pea Risotto and Garlic Demi-Glace
Greg Fontenot (The Woodlands, TX)
Beef Short Ribs in Garlic Balsamic Cherry Sauce
Betty Hass (Sanibel, FL)
Wasabi-Glazed Garlic Stuffed Shrimp with Sweet Garlic Rice Crisps
A resounding thank you to my sweet husband Blake, for supporting me in my Food Sport journey, and to my family and friends, for your love and encouragement and eating my mistakes!
Finally…my winning recipe!!
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more for buttering ramekins
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/3 cups whole milk
- 3 ounces mild fresh goat cheese
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
- 1 tablespoon snipped chives
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper
- ¼ cup bread crumbs (for dusting ramekins)
- 4 large eggs, separated
- Boiling water
- 4 heads garlic (about 35 cloves) peeled and separated
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ pound bacon, drippings reserved
- 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
- 2 tablespoons Bourbon (optional)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 8-ounce package red and yellow grape tomatoes
- Salt and white pepper to taste
- 1 bunch Mache or baby greens
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Butter six 1/2-cup ramekins, dust buttered ramekins with bread crumbs, removing any excess by gently tipping upside down, and set them in a large roasting pan.
- Make garlic paste: To a small sauce pan, add about 30 cloves garlic and about 1 tablespoon water. Cook over medium high heat until all water is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and continue to cook until garlic is caramelized/roasted. Transfer garlic to a food processor. Add ½ tablespoon chopped thyme and a pinch of salt. Process until very smooth. Makes about 4 tablespoons paste. Set aside until ready to use.
- Chop bacon and fry until crisp. Remove bacon from grease and set aside. Turn off the heat and keep pan with reserved bacon grease. Cool bacon slightly and chop fine. Set aside until ready to use.
- Thinly slice 4 garlic cloves and set aside until ready to fry. Mince 2 remaining garlic cloves. Set aside until ready to make blistered tomatoes.
- Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook over moderate heat until lightly golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and simmer over low heat, whisking constantly, until the white sauce is thick and has lost its floury taste, about 4 minutes. Mixture will be thick and creamy. Stir in the goat cheese, Parmesan, chives, thyme, 2 tablespoons garlic paste and season generously with salt and pepper. Transfer the sauce to a large bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the egg yolks one at a time.
- In another bowl, beat the egg whites at medium speed until firm peaks form. Stir one-fourth of the egg whites into the white sauce to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain. Add about ½ teaspoon crumbled bacon to the bottom of each prepared ramekin. Pour the soufflé mixture into the ramekins, filling them almost to the top. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden and firm. Remove the soufflés from the roasting pan using tongs
- Re-heat the pan with bacon grease to medium high. Fry the thinly sliced garlic until golden brown. Remove garlic to a small bowl to garnish soufflés leaving bacon grease in pan.
- Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to hot pan. Add tomatoes to hot pan and blister for 1-2 minutes, shaking pan to keep them moving. Add minced garlic and continue to cook for additional 1-2 minutes or until garlic is fragrant but not browned. Remove tomatoes to a bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt
- Reduce heat to medium. Deglaze the pan with ¼ cup hot water. Add 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon honey, 2 tablespoon remaining garlic puree, and whisk until incorporated. If using Bourbon…add 2 tablespoons and flame the liquor. When flame subsides, add 2 tablespoon butter and continue whisking until butter is melted. Pour in ½ cup heavy cream and whisk to combine. Add remaining crumbled bacon and cook for 2-3 minutes, and taste for salt. Add more if necessary. Turn off the heat and keep in the pan until ready to use. If sauce becomes too thick, add 1 tablespoon hot water
- Run a thin sharp knife around the rims of the ramekins and gently remove soufflés, carefully transfer the soufflés to plates. Pour Garlic Mustard sauce over each soufflé and serve blistered tomatoes alongside the soufflés.
- Top each soufflé with fried garlic chips and Mache or other mini greens. Serve immediately
- You will need six 1/2-cup ramekins and one large shallow roasting pan.