HARDIN — A cold soup, served usually during the summer months, took the top prize at the 35th annual Sidney Daily News Harvest Holiday Cookbook Cook-Off, Saturday, Oct. 5.
The judges of the contest at the Crossroads in Hardin selected Gazpacho, prepared by Marguerite Meyers, of Sidney, in the On the Side category as the grand prize winner.
Meyers, who was in her first appearance as a cook-off semi-finalist, took home the $250 Clancy’s Grand Prize. The contest’s expert judges, Rob Schmiesing, executive chef of Fair Haven of Sidney; Martha Holscher, owner of Morris Landing Restaurant and Dairy King Fort of Loramie; and Mel Wildermuth, vice president of administration of Clancy’s in Sidney, selected Meyers’ entry after judging six categories in the contest..
“It’s so flavorful. There are so many flavors and the freshness of the whole thing,” Wildermuth said to the other two agreeing main judges when determining the grand prize winner. The judges noted Meyers’s Gazpacho was “very versatile” in that it could be used in various ways. Holscher said she could see the soup being used as the mixer in a Bloody Mary cocktail when judging it during the On the Side category.
“A very, very tough decision from all accounts. Not to mention how hard it was in your own categories,” Schmiesing said before naming off the dishes from fifth runner-up to grand prize winner. “Some of the things we looked at were uniqueness, versatility and color, presentation and all that fun stuff.”
Twenty-two semifinalists in six categories presented dishes to the three expert judges and to category-prize sponsors during the event. Two semifinalists were unable to attend at the last minute due to either a personal or family illness. A third semifinalist, who was admitted to the hospital the week of the contest, had her granddaughter stand-in to present her dish.
Annette Purkey, representing the Gateway Arts Council, also presented the $50 category prize to a shocked Meyers as the On the Side category winner for her Gazpacho earlier in the competition.
“I was totally shocked! Are you kidding? This was the first time (competing) and we win for the category. And that was awesome and now this (the grand prize win) is awesome-er,” Meyers said with a big smile, before admitting her husband urged her to enter the contest after he saw a call for recipes in the paper. “It was the middle of summer, and we had all these fresh vegetables, and thought this is going to be great to make. It’s a great summer dish. We have made it for decades. We had it at a restaurant once and thought it was delicious and then went searching for recipes. And then we modified it and we added the Bloody Mary mix, and then wanted V-8 instead of tomato juice. You know, that kind of thing.”
Dr. Doreen Larson, representative for Edison State Community College, presented the $50 prize to Mary Lou Veit, of Sidney, in the Bicentennial Heritage category for her Chocolate Pudding. Veit took the first runner-up spot among all six category winners.
Jennifer Sharp, representing Clancy’s, the sponsor of the No Pressure Here category, presented the $50 prize to Deb Moorman, of Sidney, for her Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya. Moorman was chosen as the second runner-up of category winners.
Anita Doll, representing Flint’s TV and Appliances as a judge in the Main Dishes category, presented the $50 prize to Margie Wuebker, of Fort Loramie, for her Seafood Lasagna. Wuebker took third runner-up with her “unique twist on a lasagna” judges said.
Eric Shoemaker, representing Ohio Living Dorothy Love, presented the $50 prize to Kathy Ingle, of Piqua, for winning the Desserts category with her Pumpkin Cake. Ingle’s cake was deemed the fourth runner-up of the category winners.
Leonard Larson, representing Allison’s Custom Jewelry, presented the $50 prize to Kristi Patzman, of Hebrorn, Kentucky, in the My Favorite Beverage category for her Pineapple Punch. Patzman’s punch was the fifth runner up of all the winning dishes.
Aside from the $50 prize money, first through fifth place runner-up category winners were also presented with an additional prize or gift card from the following business: Basil’s On Market, Small Town Boutique, CR Designs, Fort Loramie Hardware, Sidney Foodtown, a Sidney Tire and Service car care package, a Best One Tire & Service car care package. The first, second and third runner-up winners also received a free night’s stay at the Comfort Inn.
Throughout the day, newly published books from national publishers and gift items donated by area businesses or organizations were given as door prizes. Following the judging, attendees enjoyed sampling all the food and each left with a gift bag of contributed items.
The 2019 Harvest Holiday Cookbook will be distributed in the Sidney Daily News issue on Nov. 23. It will be available for single-copy sale after that date. Advance orders for additional copies can be placed now. Single copies picked up in the newspaper offices at 1451 N. Vandemark Road cost $1.50 each. Copies to be delivered by mail cost $5 each. Watch the newspaper for order blanks. For information or to order, call 937-538-4826.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.