This article was edited on 8-13-2014. A slide show was added!
The World Food Championships hosted by Adam Richman! Lawd have mercy!
The World Food Championships is a high stakes food competition that goes on in Las Vegas for 4 days. During the preliminary rounds, the panel of judges decide which contestants qualify to move on to the next round, by placing them in the top ten of each competition food category.
Saturday, my evening was spent photographing the event and chatting with some of the top ten qualifying competitors. The top ten qualifying competitors in each food category were not like the hard nose hot tempered chefs that are glorified on television. The competitors that I met at the World Food Championship turned out to be very friendly people who had a fun upbeat way of showing their stuff!
The 2012 World Food Championship was hosted by Bally's Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. This prime geographical site actually is where world's busiest intersection is located, which is the crossroads of Flamingo and Las Vegas Boulevard. Every restaurateur wishes for a prime business location like this.
The World Food Championship could not have picked a busier location! Even so, there was no huge crowd gathered all at one time to see the preliminary rounds, but there was a steady flow of interested onlookers. A steady flow of customers is never a bad thing. The top ten food competitors that I met did not seem fatigued by a constant barrage of questions from mobs of spectators. The competitors were energetic and very upbeat. A good positive energetic attitude is a good asset to have when participating in a food competition. Judges observe the composure of the competitors, as well as the food!
Since most of the competitors that did not make the final cut had already packed up their gear and left the scene, there were many empty spaces between the locations of those who made the top ten cut in each food category. Some of the final competitors were located in front of Bally's by the Strip and the rest could be found near the open area behind the casino, all the way back to Koval Street, where the Ellis Island Casino is located.
Because of the distance involved with walking the World Food Championship grounds, it made for a great opportunity to burn off some calories and get some exercise. All that walking has a way of creating some powerful hunger and many of the competitors had food for sale.
One of the most notable food for a price vendors was the UNLV Rubbin' Rebels Rib Fest BBQ. I have featured the UNLV BBQ Team's food in blog articles that I wrote when covering the 2011 Las Vegas BBQ Championship and the 2012 Las Vegas BBQ Throwdown events. The Rubbin' Rebels name is a funny dry rub BBQ take on the official UNLV Runnin' Rebels team logo. Kind of catchy!
The BBQ and side dish competition area was full of hard core BBQ, side dish and potato salad competitors from as far away as Georgia and Montana. I showed up to the World Food Competition just in time to hear the winners for those categories being announced over the loud speakers. I actually watched the champions being congratulated from an upper tier parking space at the Paris Casino that overlooked the awards ceremony area. I had no clue that I had parked in a lucky spot for a good vantage point, till I stepped out of the car and looked over the rail. Sometimes showing up fashionably late does lead to a good viewing opportunity!
I had a nice chat with the friendly ladies of Just A Pinch Recipes. We hastily exchanged contact information, because the television crew had just arrived to do an interview with them. The ladies from Just A Pinch Recipes were some really fun competitors to chat with and we briefly exchanged recipe ideas. Feel free to check out the interesting Just A Pinch website via this link: http://www.justapinch.com/
The Gettin' Basted BBQ Competition Crew were busy frying tortilla cups for salsa and making a very nice queso fundido creation with long strip of crispy tortillas. These guys had it goin' on and they were fun to chat with! Their competition food presentations were well thought out and I wished them luck. Here is a link to the Gettin' Basted web site: http://www.gettinbasted.com/
Another competitor that I chatted with was Dan Jablow, President and Chief Meat Officer of Jablow's Meats. Chatting with the Jablow's competition team was really entertaining. These wild guys were great to talk food with. Jablow's Meats is a great source for smoked organic hormone free meat treats. No chemical enhancers are allowed in their products. Here is the link for Jablow's Meats: http://www.jablowsmeats.com/
The Paris Casino's Le Village Buffet chef was another top 10 sandwich competitor that I chatted with at length. This competitor was church reverend who became a chef. Talk about having a competitive advantage from the heavens above! He was preparing one of my all time favorite sandwich meats, which is slow cooked pulled pork BBQ! His twist on the pulled pork recipe was a good one. He added bourbon whiskey to kick the flavor up a notch. That was a novel idea! A glass of bourbon goes great with a pulled pork BBQ sandwich, so why not add bourbon to the pulled pork BBQ recipe!
Two Las Vegas Le Cordon Bleu School Of Culinary Arts Instructors made the top ten list of competitors in the sandwich and recipe categories! The two Le Cordon Bleu chefs had completely different themes that they were working on. One chef was preparing a cutting edge recipes that included American autumn season ingredients, like red yam cheesecake and butternut squash shiitake bread pudding. The other Le Cordon Bleu chef chose some fine classic Italian flavors like a tomato basil bruschetta topping for the sandwich competition event. Both Le Cordon Bleu Chefs were within an hour of the recipe entry deadline, so I moved on and got out of their hair, so they could concentrate on winning the top prize money. We did have fun chatting and we exchanged some sandwich ideas.
One of the competing Le Cordon Bleu chefs had a fancy custom engraved French knife that looked very impressive. We exchanged a few cooking war stories, like veteran cooks do. He talked about how he had to deal with deliveries of fresh food that always showed up at the job site frozen, while he worked in Antarctica. I responded with my own war story about receiving fresh food that was wilted or cooked till it was well done, in overheated delivery trucks at Furnace Creek, Death Valley. Talk about opposite cooking extremes! We both cooked at both the coldest and hottest places on earth!
The other Le Cordon Bleu chef took the time to explain what the World Food Championships was all about and how the prize money pools were distributed. He confirmed that sponsors promoted their products through this competition event. Philadelphia Cream Cheese, butter companies, spice purveyors, Grey Poupon Mustard and many other food manufacturers required that their sponsored products had to be used in the World Food Championships contestant recipes. Of course the sponsored products were donated to the competitors. When I asked the lady food competitor, who was working on a butternut squash au gratin, about how much butter was donated by the sponsor, she responded by saying "Believe me! I have got plenty!"
Most of the other competitors that I chatted with were busy preparing food with sanitation gloves on, so rather that interrupting their work to shake hands, I placed a business card for this blog site at their booth and kindly asked them to drop a message with contact information for their company. Any World Food Championships competitors that I chatted with that responded, had their information posted as updates to this blog entry.
As it was as of Saturday, November 3rd, anybody that made the top ten in a category received a nice tidy sum of money as a prize. Those who won first prize in their respective food categories were qualified to be sat at the final table on Sunday, November 4th. The contestants food at the final table was judged to determine the World Food Champion! The top prize for winning the World Food Championships final showdown was $50,000!
Because the final table was an event thate required paid admission and because television coverage was involved, only the top winners of each category have been announced at this time. Information about the World Food Championship Winner can be found at their site and the list of the final table competitors is also posted. Here is the link to the World Food Championships web site: http://www.worldfoodchampionships.com/home
The World Food Championships seems to be an honest run competition. Regular everyday talented chefs and professional cooking competitors all have an honest chance to win. Adam Richman is likable television personality who comes across as an average everyday kind of honest guy. Because Adam Richman hosted this event, the judges honesty for selecting the winners was never in doubt. In fact, the atmosphere of the event was laid back and fun!
Because I covered this food competition event in the late rounds, there was little actual competitive food items to see. To add a little bit of punch to this article, photos of the Bally's & Paris Shopping Mall were included. Since I parked at the Paris Casino, I had to traverse the mall anyway, so snapping a few pictures of the sights was the natural thing to do. There are many dining destinations worth mentioning in this fine shopping area. The Bally's & Paris Mall is something to experience, when visiting Las Vegas!
The World Food Championships was a great easy going food competition that was fun to attend! I highly suggest checking this event out, the next time it takes place in Las Vegas. Admission to the preliminary rounds is free. Tickets for the final table competition are sold for average prices. If hunger sets in while attending this event, there is plenty of great food to sample. Yum!