A great perk of this job, as I think I’ve mentioned before, is that I frequently get called upon to judge cooking contests.
It’s almost always difficult — and before you heave a big giant sigh, you try judging 18 seafood dishes made by trained chefs or 13 pies made by the area’s best bakers. And doing so while they’re all sitting there staring at you.
So difficult, yes.
But also a huge amount of fun.
First of all, these contests are frequently accompanied by a festival, carnival or fair of some sort, and south Louisiana knows how to throw a festival, carnival or fair. It’s also great to meet all the creative cooks we have out there and to try their dishes.
Past contests have brought me face to face with fried soft-shell crawfish, alligator curries, delectable barbecue, bisques, wraps, jams, jellies and pies.
The ones that make the best impression, though, are the home cooks and amateur cooks. Those whose got their training not in culinary schools, but at the elbows of moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles.
While the chefs and professionals who grace these pages also do an impressive job, watching what someone can do in their own kitchen — with enough time and practice — is truly amazing.
Sans sous chefs and fancy equipment, some of south Louisiana’s home cooks churn out dishes that can challenge the most decorated of chefs.
I never get tired of seeing your best recipes and your best efforts on full display. It’s truly inspiring and I only hope I can, on some level, match your considerable skills in this small space every week.
Beth Colvin is the assistant Food editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.