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Commentary: Guacamole contest heats up North Market

Patrick Brennan / Lantern Photographer

Twelve competitors entered, but only one could win.
Sadly, that wasn’t me.
The North Market’s “Fiery Foods Weekend” was full of peppers, chili, hot sauce and my specialty – guacamole. The guacamole contest I competed in was part of a weekend dedicated to all things spicy.
The instructions for the contest were straightforward. Bring a quart of prepared guacamole, and at least one ingredient had to be purchased at the market (I went for a cheap option and bought two limes there). The four judges were supposed to evaluate the dips on aroma, appearance, texture and taste.
Anxiously I wandered the market, buying a coffee and a pretzel, waiting for 10 a.m., when the judging would begin. I sized up the competition, mostly Columbus-area residents who wanted a shot at glory (and a $50 North Market gift certificate) just as much as me.
When shopping at the market earlier in the week for my ingredients, I talked to Ben Walters, owner of North Market Spices, and we discussed the upcoming competition. He told me he was “robbed” a few years ago of the win and this year he would be judging the competition. I made sure to buy some spices to stay on his good side and told him to remember me.
As I watched Walters and the other judges, three reviewers from iloveitspicy.com, sample mine, they all nodded their head vigorously, and went back for second and third bites. I even heard one judge say “That’s good,” and I thought I was well-set to win.
After our dips were judged, we talked with the MC about how we prepared for the competition. I told him my cooking philosophy: “Everything needs more garlic.” The other competitors had some interesting techniques, one included roasted garlic and another grilled her avocados to achieve a subtle, smoky flavor.
Finally the results were in, and first place went to the woman with grilled avocados.
While I didn’t get a chance to try her dip, I did try the second place entry and I have to say I wasn’t impressed. It tasted mainly like green peppers and needed a lot of salt and pepper.
I was only able to try about five of the entries, mostly because people left quickly after the judging, and some were delicious, but overall, I still liked mine more. My boyfriend smartly agreed with me, but maybe he just said that since he had to help me finish the near quart of leftover guacamole.
Contestants were able to collect the judges comment cards afterward and I learned I had achieved a 68 out of 100 possible points. Some judges commented that they enjoyed the texture of my dip and one wrote “Not too shabby.”
Then I realized where my downfall likely came from. There was an additional category not mentioned before the contest – use of heat. I realize it was “Fiery Foods Weekend,” but guacamole should never be described as “hot,” in my opinion. Spicy, tangy, creamy are all fine, but not hot.
So I will not say I was robbed, rather the judges and I have a philosophical difference of opinion on what guacamole ought to be. So be warned all future competitors, if you want to win this contest, you better bring the heat.

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