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Picking who takes the cake at Fair culinary competition

Pie contest judges Deb Sweeney, Sue Dudley, Linda Traynor and Terrill Curran struggle to decide on the division winner New York State Fair Tuesday. Taste, appearance, texture, and crust were closely evaluated to pick the winner.

Pie contest judges Deb Sweeney, Sue Dudley, Linda Traynor and Terrill Curran struggle to decide on the division winner New York State Fair Tuesday. Taste, appearance, texture, and crust were closely evaluated to pick the winner. renee taylor

Whether it’s cream or crust, every detail counts when it comes to the culinary competitions at the New York State Fair.

As a long-standing tradition at the Art and Home Center, the culinary competition has challenged thousands of people to “take the cake” on a variety of dishes including pastas, desserts and much more.

While judges spent Tuesday, Aug. 30 determining the winners of the pie contest — one of the most popular competitions — a number of fairgoers were heard saying, “How do you get this job?” and “I’ll be a volunteer taste-tester!”

However, one may not know just what goes into the food judging.

Culinary Superintendent Linda Jackson said the judges are chosen based on qualifications which may include a background in teaching culinary classes in high school or even owning their own restaurant.

“The judges are people with a long history of good cooking and fair judging,” said Jackson. “They are generally qualified to judge just about anything.”

She stated that the judges come from all around the state including Albany, Rochester, and the Niagara district.

“It is the New York State Fair and our judges typically represent New York state very well,” she said.

Jackson, who has been the culinary superintendent for five years, said she herself has spent many years working as a family and consumer science teacher throughout the Syracuse area.

She said each day four judges spend hours analyzing that day’s culinary division that typically holds several classes. She added that some of the judges take part in more than one competition throughout the 12 days.

As for Tuesday’s pie contest, Jackson said 41 entries were submitted among five categories including two-crust, vegetable, cream, chiffon and savory.

With a score card in hand, each judge evaluated their specific class based on 30 percent appearance, 30 percent texture, 20 percent flavor, and 20 percent crust.

Renee Taylor is a contributing writer for The Eagle.

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