On Sunday, September 13th, Good Food Awards held the Blind Tasting Event to judge the entries for the 2016 Good Food Awards. I attended at the invitation of the organizer Sarah Weiner. She felt it was time I saw this piece of the whole puzzle.
I think I had the best role in the whole event. With the self appointed title of "guest of the event" I had no official responsibilities. This gave me all the time to meander around, try the samples being judged and chit chat with the many judges, staff and volunteers. In between the noshing and the conversations, I took quick snapshots of things that caught my eye.
It was certainly a joy to see familiar faces again and to meet new people. I met Lynne Devereux standing in line for lunch and we soon got to talking like old friends. Like Lynne said, food people are the nicest people you'll meet. And they feed you!
Lynne was judging in the honey category and she and Amina, the committee chair, both explained to me what to look for in tasting honey, how to prepare the honey when tasting the samples and the ways the beekeepers can shape the product. Amina is the one with the spoon in her mouth. She is a tiny bundle of energy. Maybe it's all that honey she's consuming. She got me to chew on a piece of honeycomb. It was an interesting experience...like chewing on a candlestick.
I saw the volunteers working the cheese category and had visions of Vermeer; the large soft light coming through the window on the left, a beautiful blond maiden quietly and intently cutting cheese into smaller wedges.
I can't imagine spending the whole day eating the same food over and over again. My mouth puckering up from all the salt from the charcuterie or pickles or the headache I'd get from eating chocolate all day long! I was told the toughest category to judge is the oil category; all those oil just sitting in you stomach at the end of the day!
The loudest category, especially as the day went on was the beer category. Festive people, these judges.
Then after a certain point, a kind of zen moment descended upon the group.
Like Sarah said, it was fun and interesting to see all the details of how the Good Food Awards eventually come together. One fun thing to see was the little things that made the day go smoothly and more fun for everyone involved. Here, Jen from the staff is delivering wine to the volunteers in the confectionery category in exchange for some sweets to take back to the wine crew. It's like a mini United Nations of Food, bartering and trading to keep good relationship amongst each other.
Of course bartering or not, the day could not have gone as smoothly as it did without the large number of staff and volunteers. Above are just a small group of 100+ staff and volunteers that made the day possible. Christine Schantz from Seedling Projects and Zola Hart from DPEM really did an outstanding job putting the event together.
When the event started in the morning, I thought, "man, this is gonna be a long day!" Then after the eating and talking, suddenly the day was over! Just like that!
1927 entries from all over the country. 200-some judges who came from near and far. 100+ staff and volunteers who put in lots of their time and sweat for their love of Food. These photos show only a fraction of the people who were there. I'm sorry I did not photograph them all. Hopefully next time.