How to Judge a Food Contest?

Nowadays, different food contests are being organized around the world due their increasing popularity among common people. Therefore, demand for judges is increasing too. Judging these food contests is very important since success of any food contests mostly depends on the judges. An ideal judge of food contest follows some important guidelines.

Before Contest Starts:

It is important to get a clear idea about food contest rules before the contest starts. Besides, judges must study to have more idea about recipes, foods, ingredients, garnishing, cooking apparatus etc. Try to be as professional as possible and set your personal preferences aside.

During The Contest:

Talk to other judges to know if there is any last-minute change in instructions. Have your judging sheet ready. It is good to judge foods according to their difficulties. Get introduced with the contestants at the beginning of the food contest.

Judging Steps:

Time – First step in judging is to see if the food prepared by contestants is within the time allocated according to the contest rules.

See – Look for the presentation of foods along with color, garnishing etc. The look of food should be attractive. However, do not hesitate to penalize for excessive décor or inappropriate or extra use of garnishing.

Smell – Try to smell the aroma of foods. Also check if there is any burned smell coming from the food. Do not give extra point for using excessive flavoring or seasoning.

Inspect – To get the clear picture of a food you must cut the dish and expose the bottom, middle and top layers along with sides and center to inspect. Look for burned, off-colored, overcooked, undercooked or raw portion in the dish. Also check for evenness in color and cooking. Give more points for even cooking, consistent surface texture & color, pleasant aroma. On the other hand, penalize for soggy, tough, raw, burned spots, crumbling or brittle results, spotty cooking.

Taste – To taste all the dishes prepared by contestants it is important that you keep your hunger even for the last dish to be tasted. Taste for all the ingredients that mentioned in the recipe. Check the flavor if that is too strong. Also check if all the ingredients are perfectly cooked. Find out if there is any ingredient used that is not mentioned. Also penalize for missing ingredients. Try to taste a smallest amount of servings that are enough to judge a dish.

Make Notes –You might forget specific observation about an item after tasting few others. That is why it is important to write down any notes about dishes when you are judging.

Double Check Scores – Double check your scores for different dishes. Do not hesitate to taste again a dish if you are confused about that.

Filling Up My Tummy With BBQ

Filling Up My Tummy With BBQ

I had the opportunity to judge a wide variety of steaks and BBQ specialties at a contest in Memphis, where barbecue is a major part of this city’s lifestyle. The cooks at this contest put their hearts, hands and minds into preparing the foods and it showed in the way the meals tasted. Before judging the meals I walked around the downtown part of Memphis and I saw street performers who sang, danced and clapped to traditional blues music. This is interesting because many British music legends such as Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles were heavily influenced by blues music. After a few hours downtown, I returned to Memphis to judge the BBQ.

Start With The Steaks

The competition started with a tasting of different steaks and there were contestants from the United States, the UK, Canada, parts of Africa and from countries in Latin America. One steak I had from an American contestant was interesting in that he served fried steak with creamy avocado-basil salsa, and while I loved the salsa, the steak was a bit bland and was so rare that I wonder if he only grilled it for two minutes as this was a huge steak. The Canadian contestant served his steak just the way I like it; medium rare with loads of black pepper and minimum salt. He also put a little spicy horseradish sauce on the side instead on top like some restaurants do, which gets me upset. A UK contestant served a small and thin steak with plenty of flavor but he included no side condiment or side dish such as cheese potatoes. I picked the Canadian contestant as the winner of the steak contest.

BBQ Ribs

Now it was time to judge the BBQ ribs and once again I judged the same contestants. The American contestant served habanero-lime BBQ ribs and I must say that although I love spicy food, these ribs were out of my comfort level  yet they were delicious. From the Canadian contestant I sampled Thai flavored ribs that were soaked in coconut milk before rubbed with cardamom, curry powder, ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and a little honey. I had a blast with these ribs but somehow they were not that original in my opinion. Moving on to the ribs from the UK contestant, I had Italian-style ribs which were seasoned with traditional Italian herbs such as thyme, oregano, basil and parsley. This contestant also served fried spaghetti fritters, which tasted good. In the end I chose the American contestant as the winner.

Talking Amongst The Crowd

One thing I loved about judging in the contest and attending the festival in general is talking with the crowd. By this time the winners were chosen and I talked with festival goers who were home cooks themselves. One cook told me that when she first prepared a plate of BBQ chicken and chunky potato salad for the man who is now her husband on their second date, he started preparing the marriage proposal. That was 40 years ago and judging from his plump belly, he never regretted the proposal.

photo credit: Sandis Grandovskis

Fish, Fish And More Fish

Fish, Fish And More Fish

This time I’m in Pensacola to judge a fish contest and what’s interesting about this contest is that the contestants are cooking only with fish that the staff caught by getting help from the best fish finder which they got from The staff members uploaded the fish finder and typed in “Pensacola.” The fish finder led the staff to eight locations for the fish and they arrived to the competition with three bags of fish for contestants to choose and cook with. I can smell the freshness of the fish and I saw so many diverse ingredients at the competition site.

Shrimp Dishes

The first contest dealt with shrimp and I needed to judge each dish on taste, texture, presentation and uniqueness. The first dish I tried was shrimp and calamari salad with Vidalia lemon dressing. I loved the combination of the shrimp and calamari and the dressing had a tangy taste to it. After that I tried the shrimp and smoked salmon mini pot pies and I couldn’t get enough of those. I tried the shrimp and green bell pepper wraps in whole wheat pita pockets but I wasn’t crazy about them. In the end I voted for the shrimp mini pot pies and I really hope the contestant decides to sell them in stores nationwide because they taste great.


The only thing I don’t like about trout is all of the bones in them but overall trout is a good fish to have. I tried a baked trout with Indian pineapple curry and it was served with fingerling potatoes. I thought this was very delicious and I wanted seconds. The next trout dish I sampled was trout and oyster gumbo, and since I’m from Louisiana I was eager to eat it.I must say I was a bit skeptical but actually it tasted wonderful. Finally, I tried the smoked trout with roasted white corn and pickle salsa and of all the trout dishes, this was the most amazing. I voted for this dish in the trout contest.


You can do so much with crabmeat and that’s why I cook with it a lot. The first crabmeat dish I tried was the crabmeat burgers on foccaccia bread and it was interesting. The next crabmeat dish I ate was crabmeat inside of chicken broth-flavored gelatin molds with onion dip. This was a little taxing because I actually hate savory gelatin but I love fruit gelatin.


Overall the fish contest was fantastic and I had a great time judging the meals. As a food judge I get to attend and participate in different contests throughout the year. Some contests are more exciting than others but overall I love what I do. Sometimes I have to spend quite a bit of time in the CrossFit gym doing WODs from CrossFitWay but I’m not obsessed with weight control. As long as I have good health overall I’m not worried. The best part is that I can attend these contests for free.

photo credit: Roving I

Things to Consider Before Opening a Fast Food Restaurant

Things to Consider Before Opening a Fast Food Restaurant

There is a huge popularity of fast foods among people. Therefore, it is not a bad idea to open a fast food restaurant. However, food is not the only thing that you must consider before opening a fast food restaurant. You have to consider several other factors too.


The first thing you must consider before opening a fast food restaurant is type of food you want to provide. Selling all types of fast foods is not a wise idea. You must decide your specialty in providing foods. For example, Pizza Huts is not popular for selling burgers or chicken fries and you will not go to McDonalds to have a pizza. Therefore, determine what type of food you want be specialized in. It could be sandwiches, burgers, chicken fries, pizzas or any other types of fast food.


Location is important for any small business. Fast food restaurants’ businesses greatly depend on their locations. If your location is not good, it will be tough for you to continue. It is better to choose a location close to office area, schools, colleges, universities, shopping malls etc. You also may consider a location by the highways.


Try to indentify the possible cost associated in starting up the fast food business. Also consider how you will manage that cost. Moreover, it is important to manage the cost until your business makes profit. If you need other investors or bank loans to fund your business, make a business proposal that convinces them.

Health Codes:

You must abide by all the rules and regulations related to health. Therefore, before you open a fast food restaurant, have a clear idea bout those rules. The laws could differ in states to states and country to country.


Different fast food restaurants require different types of equipments to prepare foods. And you might need to spend most of your initial investment buying equipments. Therefore, you may consider leasing those equipments instead of buying if you are starting with a lower amount of money.


Not only foods but also staffs make a restaurant profitable. It is wise to hire highly skilled staff during the beginning of the business to create a strong image of your fast food restaurant. If the image is good, people will come back automatically. Besides, if customers do not get proper service, it is unlikely for them as well as other potential customers to come to your restaurants.


It is important to know your competitors before opening any sort of businesses. Indentify the other fast food outlets in the area where you are planning to open your restaurants. Try to know there strength, weakness, strategies in details.

photo credit: lambda_X

What natural foods are good with CrossFit?

What natural foods are good with CrossFit?

The popularity of CrossFit training is increasing day by day. Most of the athletes, bodybuilders, martial artists and government forces are combining CrossFit training with their regular training. CrossFit improves body strength and endurance along with improved fitness. However, if proper diet is not taken, you might not get the desired result. You must be aware of the foods that are good with CrossFit and that are not. It is better to depend mostly on natural diets for CrossFit like Paleo diet. Some natural foods that are good with CrossFit are discussed here.

Eat Plenty of Vegetables:

It is good to eat plenty of garden vegetables (Except beans, corns and potatoes). Vegetables contain wide range of vitamins and minerals and do not spike insulin. At the same time they fill you up. They also help keep acid-base balance in your body. Some healthy vegetables are – broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, cucumber, green peas, beans, tomato, mushroom, carrot, pumpkin, lentils, spinach, butternut squash, soya beans and so on.

Eat Natural Foods That Contains Fat:

It is also important to intake sufficient amount of fat too since fat is essential to body. That is why eat any seeds or nuts except peanuts. You can eat them either raw or lightly roasted. Besides, you can also eat olives or avocados. Fatty natural foods help keep the ratio of omega 3/6/9 normal. These foods ensure healthy blood circulation and have anti-inflammatory elements.

Eat Some Fruits:

You can eat any fresh fruits. Fruits are full of nutrients and good for human health. However, insulin level could be raised if too much fruits are eaten. If you want to lose weight or have diabetic conditions, do not eat too much of fruits and avoid any juices. Try to eat an amount of fruits that is less than the amount of vegetable you eat. Some natural healthy fruits are – apricots, apples, oranges, raisins, strawberries, blueberries, pears, plums, grapes, pineapples, cherries, peaches etc.

Foods That Should Be Avoided:

You must avoid excessive consumption of foods that contain high glycemic carbohydrates. High glycemic carbohydrates could cause severe health problems. Foods containing high glycemic carbohydrates rapidly raise the sugar level in human blood. The foods that contain high glycemic carbohydrates are – potatoes, rice and most of the carbohydrates that are processed from natural grains. Processing like refining, grinding, baking, bleaching of carbohydrates amplify the amount of glycemic carbohydrates in foods.

Gear up:

Try to get some Crossfit gear. It is important to choose only the best crossfit shoes and equipment possible to get maximum results from your workout. Eat healthy food, workout regularly and get in the best shape of your life.

photo credit: entitee

What natural foods can you grow at home?

What natural foods can you grow at home?

People are becoming very conscious day by day about their foods. This is because many harmful chemical are being used to grow many natural foods. Therefore, many people are growing natural foods on their own at home. It not necessary for you to be a farmer to grow few plants at home. Spending a portion of your leisure time can make that possible. Growing natural foods at home you can eat fresh and healthy foods. At the same time you can save your money that you would otherwise spend to buy those foods. Few natural foods that can be grown at home are discussed here.


You can grow cauliflower in your garden quite easily. Remember cauliflowers needs fertile soil that has well drainage facilities. It is better to add some fertilizer to the soil well in advance before cultivating cauliflower. Shelter spot increases the growth of cauliflower. Do not forget to water them time to time.


It is quite easy to grow ginger at home. Just buy some ginger chunks and cover them with soil at pots or in the garden facing the freshest bud up. Ensure indirect sunlight for best result.


Growing broccoli is much more similar to growing cauliflower at home. Broccoli needs the same soil condition as cauliflower needs. It is wise to cultivate broccoli after every two years for best growth at the same soil.


This is another common and popular vegetable that you can grow at your home in abundance. Potato best grows in worm and moist place. Make sure the soil has proper drainage facilities as sogginess could hamper growth of them. Ensure the maximum sunlight for the soil possible.


Autumn is the best time to grow blackberries. At this time of the year blackberry plants get sufficient sunlight without over exposing roots. Make an arch for the blackberry bush to grow. Add some fertilizer to the soil at spring. Do not forget to water them time to time but make sure the soil does not get soggy.


Sandy soil is ideal for growing asparagus. Find a sheltered but open place for their bed. You can grow them from both seeds and crowns. Make the bed for asparagus raised.


Once you grow an apple tree in your garden, you do not to buy apples from market for many years. Before you plant a apple tree make sure the soil is well fertilized. You can use organic materials or compost to the soil. Make a wide hole into the soil to plant the young tree. You can put some compost at the bottom of that hole for better growth. Gently fill the hole with soil mixed with compost.

photo credit:

What diet should you follow best for BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu)?

What diet should you follow best for BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu)?

Diet is very important for any high intensity training like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Without having proper diet you can not achieve the desired goal during competitions or trainings. Besides, you might face some skin problems, digestive problems or might gain excessive body fat if you neglect your diet for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. However, most of the people who are doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu do not have clear idea about what to eat and what not to. Therefore, the best diet you should follow for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is discussed here.

Have Breakfast:

It is important to energize yourself at the start of the day by having a healthy breakfast. You will feel much more energy and less hungry throughout the day. Skipping breakfast is highly prohibited if you are training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The best breakfast could be cottage cheese, smoothies and omelets.

Take Meal After Every Three Hours:

Make sure you eat after every three hours throughout the day. It will provide sufficient energy for your training and you will always be full. It is better to eat at fixed times though you feel hungry at those certain times.

Include Protein In Every Meal:

Protein in food is a must for muscle. It is important you eat protein with all the meals you take throughout the day. For protein you may have red meat like buffalo, pork, lamb, beef etc and poultry like duck turkey or chicken. Besides, you can also get protein from eggs, milk or cottage cheeses or from fishes like sardines, salmon, tunas etc.

Eat Vegetables and Fruits:

Most of the garden vegetables and fruits contain very low calorie and therefore, you can have them as much as you like. They also contain anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins in plenty. You will not gain any fat or weight eating them with every meal.

Do Not Forget to Eat Carbs:

Though many people get fat eating excessive carbohydrates, still it is important to eat them in right amount. It is better to take them after workout.

Intake Fats:

You must eat sufficient amount of healthy fat too to recover the fat loss because of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training. Healthy fats also help improve your health.

Hydrate Yourself:

Keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. Because of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training your body looses water which could cause problem in muscle recovery. Try to drink four to five liters of water throughout the day. It will help you lessen the hunger during your training too.

Have Whole Foods:

Try to avoid refined or processed foods. It is better to eat whole foods that come in their natural states.

photo credit: Michael Fludkov