About an hour and a half deep I wanted to throw in my cranberry and stuffing stained towel, crack another Brooklyn Summer Ale, and stuff my face with my competitors’ much more appetizing offerings. By that time my intended artful presentation of the “Plymouth Rock Pie” had disintegrating into what your younger cousin’s plate looks like before he asks if he can be excused from Thanksgiving Dinner. Turkey, stuffing, bread, gravy, cranberry sauce, picked over over, mashed, just sort of there. Feeding the growing line of hungry people became more important than soliciting votes and falling behind would be worse than not showing up. (I’m looking at you Mac ‘N Cheese Bites!)
No, I didn’t win, or even come in the top three. But I finished. I kept up. And I had a really good time.In theory, my concept sounded great. Thanksgiving? In a pie? Hell yea! Everyone who I told the idea to seemed impressed by the creativity and made that sexually over enthusiastic “hmmm!” moan as the components were described. You see, where I let myself and all those horny eaters down was on execution. Sure, I tasted everything at every step and adjusted seasoning as necessary, but I guess the entire dish just never came together. My other downfall was that I decided to plate my portions individually, on site. With five elements to my sample bite, plating became meticulous and tedious. So while other teams just got to kick back and schmooze with their pre-made pies, I was stressed and on edge because my fucking squeeze bottle was clogged with pulp and my stuffing wouldn’t sit right on the puff pastry. I hate it when that happens.
Being the competitive bastard that I am, I would have loved more feedback on my pie. The judges were stone faced when I presented, and while there was occasional praise from the crowd, not one person assured me I earned their vote. For all I know, not a single person could have voted for me [highly likely]. Since only the top three entries are announced, the 25 other teams were just left to wonder. For me, it’s not even a ‘what place did I finish?’ thing. I just like criticism so I can know what to improve on and do differently next time.
The big winners were the awesome sibling duo “Gee Point One Four” and their pissaladière, a French tart with caramelized onions, olives and anchovies. There’s was actually one of the few pies I got a chance to sample at the end, and I understand why the judges picked it as their favorite–intense flavor, balance, subtle notes and a diesel crust. Honestly though, I was surprised that it also took home the crowd favorite. Either voters wanted you to know that they had really sophisticated palletes, or Gee Point One Four had a lot of family in the building. (I kid).
Seriously though, I had a lot of fun and it was a experience that I’m glad I put myself out there for. I was proud to represent for New Hampshire, and a huge shout out to my marketing director/table designer Mrs. Diesel for all her hard work and support.
Nick and Theo are such cool dudes; I wish them nothing but success as they grow The Food Experiments across the U.S., and hopefully internationally. Having Theo repeatedly address me as “Diesel” throughout the weekend always made me crack up, and it was an honor talking about food and previous tour stops with Nick during the happy hour on Thursday. Everyone I met at the Experiment had a positive vibe, and it was a pleasure to be accepted by all the other chefs. Thanks again to everyone who participated, cooked and showed up.
The final competition of the 2011 National Food Experiment Tour is September 18 at the Brooklyn Brewery in New York. If you’re in the area, I highlight recommend attending.
As for me, I’m gonna have to pull a Jay-Z and say that I’ll be retiring from competition. When the Tour rolls around next year, you know I’ll be there, but just a spectator.
Unless the theme is mussels. Then I’m back like Jordan in the 45, and you’re all getting steamed!
Want to see some photos of the event, none of which I’m in? Check out Flickr. For some images of my prep, see below.