An apology and “Celebrity” judging at the Uptown Art Fair…

Okay friends, I gotta say, I have completely gone off the rails…food-blogging wise.  My last post was at the end of August and the calendar page just flipped to the beginning of November.  I am so sorry!  I owe you three new Beer for a Year blog posts, a post about our first family camping trip & this post!  I have no excuse other than the need to prioritize my life so that I was working on “income-producing” activities. As much as I love this blog, unfortunately, a girls gotta pay the bills!  Speaking of jobs, this week I learned that the part-time position I currently hold, at a local hotel in the Sales department is becoming full-time.  While some may see that as a positive, it is not in my case.  I can only work the part-time, 24 hours a week I had been doing, allowing me the other half of the work week to handle my gift basket orders.  It has been a perfect balance of my time for the past two & a half years, but they need more & I am ready to do more with my Basket business.  So it’s a good thing, but scary at the same time.  All the questions I was afraid to confront, now have to be asked & answered.  This past year has been so amazing for me personally & professionally.  I feel as though the universe is working to help me achieve the type of life I want to live.  More time for family, friends, eating/drinking/food-blogging, all while doing what I am passionate about and making a decent living in the process.  Isn’t that what we all want?  So if I have any advice to you, it’s to DO IT.  Stop waiting, stop thinking “tomorrow”…Don’t be afraid to walk that edge, jump off that safe boat and make the life you dream about happen NOW!

I recently posted this Steve Jobs quote on my personal Facebook account, which I think I got off Pinterest….

That says it all really.  Unfortunately, we all need money to survive.  Why not make it by doing what you love instead of wasting your life in a job that is slowly killing you, day by day.  Do it people!  Okay, enough of that, lets talk about “Celebrity” judging, at the Uptown Art Fair this past summer!

The first weekend in August, brought the inaugural 2012 Kitchen Window Culinary Arts Competition put on by the Uptown Art Fair and sponsored in part by Kitchen Window.  The phrase “Celebrity” judging was given by one of my favorite foodie friends and fellow judge Emily Sue Anderson of The Broccoli Stalker.  We laugh about the title because it left many of us food blogger friends who participated asking ourselves, how are we “celebrities”?  (okay, there are at least a couple of you, reading this that are celebrities in my eyes : ) Pretty cool, but my guess is the real celebrities weren’t available!  Anyway, I had a blast!  The picture above is of myself along with the two other judges I had the honor of hanging with all day.  Amanda Rettke & Melissa Hoepner.  I’ve hyperlinked their food blogs so you can check them out!  These girls are the best…I miss you both!  The competition was held over Friday, Saturday & Sunday.  The 1st & 2nd place winners (most points) from each days competitions would move on to the semi-finals on Sunday.  Each local Chef contestant was paired with an Uptown Art Fair Artist and they were charged with putting together a dish, and a piece of visual art.  The teams were given thirty minutes and the food was made using three required ingredients- beer from Schell’s Brewing, artisan chocolates from local chocolatier B.T. McElrath and rice from Gourmet House®  Rice.  In addition to that, one secret ingredient, unveiled to them just minutes before competition time.  They had use of a full pantry of items sponsored by Whole Foods and the artists pretty much could do what they wanted, as long as it somehow tied into the Chef’s dish.  I saw some very creative things come out of this competition!

The first round I helped judge was Saturday morning, August 4, 2012 at 11:00am.  The secret ingredient for this round…Corn, which both chefs used creatively in their respective dishes.

 

First up,  Chef Tim Draughn from Old Chicago & Artist Paul Lundquist – Photographer.  Chocolate & Coffee encrusted Beef Tenderloin and a picture as gorgeous to match in which he used both the B.T. McElrath chocolates & whole coffee beans…

…vs. Chef Annette Colon from Sunstreet Breads & Tim Foster – Oil/Pastel.  Yes, those are luscious eggs on top of her dish (you know I am egg-obsessed) and Tim’s oil painting…oh my…let’s just say, there was a bit of a discussion after the competition of just where that painting would make it’s final home!

And the winner is….

Chef Tim Draughn & Artist Paul Lundquist!!

Next round, at 1:00pm found Cherries as our secret ingredient…

This round found Chef Josh Boge from Urban Eatery & Artist Michele Combs – Painter.  Another painting we loved and a gorgeously plated dish by Josh, was almost too pretty to eat!

…up against Chef Ben Mauk from Birdhouse & Artist Paul Gill – Sculpture.  Paul’s sculpture was made mostly of chocolate and if I remember correctly, he had beer in the center. It’s hard to see what that was, that Chef Ben made…so let me tell you, it was the most delicious chocolate-cherry rice pudding; not too sweet, a bit of heat…oh my!

And the winner is…

Chef Ben Mauk & Artist Paul Gil!

And the final round of the day, 3:00pm brought Mushrooms as our secret ingredient.

This final round had Chef Sarah Master from Barbette & teammate Artist Rebecca Phan-Tretter, Photographer up against…

Chef Tammy Wong from Rainbow Chinese and teammate Artist Bill Wolfson-Painter.

With this being the last round, we had a better handle on the whole point scoring process.  It sounds like an awesome job to have, but with so many categories and food/art perspectives to keep in mind, it truly was a difficult challenge for us judges!  Chef Sarah made a perfectly cooked & delicious piece of Pork Loin, with Chocolate-Beer Mustard sauce and an Arugula salad with puffed Wild Rice.  Chef Tammy’s dish had many things going on, from stir-fried beef & mushrooms, a chocolate fruit salad and an asian slaw that had crunchy, barely cooked bits of Wild Rice.  She took full advantage of the Whole Foods pantry for sure!  The artists creations this round were unique as well, with Artist Bill Wolfson’s gorgeous painting taking cues from Rainbow Chinese’s color palette & incorporating her dish into the final design.  I was completely in awe of Artist Rebecca Phan-Tretter rendition of the Stone Arch Bridge, incorporating the beer & Chef Sarah’s dish into the final design construction.  And in the end, the winner was…

Chef Sarah Master & Artist Rebecca Phan-Tretter!

They ended up winning it all on Sunday, congrats to them both!  You can enjoy her winning recipes by clicking on this link.

I plan to use a couple of her recipes for my belated Beer for a Year blog posts, so stay tuned on that.

My thanks to the Uptown Art Fair & Kitchen Window for allowing me to participate in this year’s competition!  I hope they’ll ask me again next year! 🙂

And to you my faithful readers, I am getting back on that darn wagon/train and promise you delicious future posts, more often!

Until then, cheers!

Shawn

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