The Great Garlic Cook-Off is one of the most well-known cooking contests in the country. Beginning in September, the Gilroy Garlic Festival puts out a call across the United States and Canada for the best garlic recipes. Hundreds of amateur chefs respond with delicious sounding recipes that run the gamut from soups to desserts and from every type of cuisine. Recent winners have included Sarsaparilla Glazed Wild West Burgers and Southwest Sweet Potatoes; Crispy Pork Belly with Caramelized Onion and Fig Agrodolce and Creamy Polenta; Warm Weather Watermelon Crabmeat Kissed South Seas Soup; and Spicy Garlic Butter Cookies with Garlic Goat Cheese and Honey.
The most delicious-sounding recipes, approximately 50, are forwarded to a professional food consultant who makes the final selection of the eight recipes. The consultant prepares each recipe to ensure correct measurements and use of ingredients. These finalists’ recipes are those considered to make the most interesting and exciting contest.
The finalists come to Gilroy to prepare their recipes on the Saturday of the festival in front of the public. By 12:15, celebrity judges pick their favorites. The winner of the Great Garlic Cook-Off is appropriately honored with a crown of garlic and goes home $5,000 richer. Second place is awarded $2,500; third place, $1,000. The other finalists are given $100 each.
- Margee Berry (White Salmon, WA)
- Gloria Bradley (Naperville, IL)
- Loanne Chiu (Fort Worth, TX)
- Merry Graham (Newhall, CA)
- Tresa Hargrove (Lawton, OK)
- Lauren Katz (Ashburn, VA)
- Jodi Taffel (Altadena, CA)
- Sherri Williams (Crestview, IL)
View press release
Official Rules: 2016 Great Gilroy Garlic Festival Recipe Contest and Cook-Off
Helpful tips: Take care when submitting recipes. Be sure to read the rules completely as there are changes. Follow these directions to ensure your recipe(s) will not be disqualified. Finally, check your recipe(s) carefully for errors and omissions; avoid the need to send a corrected version.
1. Recipes for the 2016 Great Gilroy Garlic Festival Recipe Contest and Cook-Off:
• Must be original and specify at least SIX cloves of fresh garlic, or the equivalent packaged form (three teaspoons minced or chopped).
• Contestants must prepare seven separate plates, five plates for the judges, one plate for the emcees and one plate to be used for presentation to the judges and for media purposes all within a maximum of two hours.
• Contestants may enter ONLY two recipes, one entry per envelope or Internet transmission.
• Each entry must be typewritten or hand-printed legibly in recipe format.
• Recipe format lists ingredients in order of use with amount/quantity, followed by step-by-step method of preparation. The contestant name, address, telephone number and e-mail MUST be included at the end of each recipe.
• Recipe name may not exceed ten (10) words.
• A photo of each entry must be included with the recipe submission. The photo does not have to be professionally done; it will serve as an aid in the initial review process.
2. Professional chefs, cooks, food stylists and other food specialists are prohibited from entering this contest. This would also prohibit those who have received payment for services related to food, including television appearances. Previous Gilroy Garlic Festival Cook-Off contest winners (first, second and third place) are ineligible to enter for three full years (e.g. the winners of the 2015 Cook-Off are not eligible to enter until the call for recipes for the 2019 Cook-Off). Contest is open to U.S. and Canada residents only, twenty-one years of age or older. Void where prohibited, taxed, or restricted by state or local law.
3. Recipes must be mailed, or electronically submitted to Gilroy Garlic Festival Association, Inc., 2016 Great Garlic Recipe Contest and Cook-off, P.O. Box 2311, Gilroy, CA 95021-2311, and postmarked no later than May 1, 2016. The email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. All recipes submitted as entries become the property of the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association, Inc. By entering the contest, all participants consent to the commercial use of their name, picture, likeness and recipe for advertising and publicity purposes without further compensation.
4. Culinary enthusiasts and food professionals will consider qualifying entries and select the eight finalists. Notification and details of Cook-Off participation will be made to the eight finalists prior to June 20, 2016. A certification of recipe originality will be required from each finalist.
5. Finalists provide all ingredients necessary for their recipes (with the exception of garlic which the festival provides), as well as all required cooking utensils and dishes for presentation (gas stoves, sinks and refrigerators will be provided). Any other specialty equipment must be provided by the contestant.
6. On July 30, 2016, dishes prepared by the finalists on the festival Cook-Off Stage will be judged by a panel of five judges, food experts and celebrities. Selection of the five judges is at the sole discretion of the Garlic Festival Cook-Off Committee. The basis for judging will be flavor, texture, creativity, appearance and use of garlic. The decision of the judging panel is final and binding.
7. On stage participation during the Cook-off is limited to the contestants and volunteer helpers provided by the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Family and friends of the contestants are not permitted on-stage during the Cook-off.
8. Prizes at the Great Gilroy Garlic Festival Recipe Contest are offered only to those finalists who participate in the Cook-Off on July 30, 2016. The prizes are: $5,000 for first place; $2,500 for second place; and $1,000 for third place and $100 for each of the other five finalists. All taxes are the sole responsibility of the winners. Contestants receiving $600 or more in prize money will be required to have a signed W-9 on file prior to payment.
9. The Garlic Festival will provide each contestant (from out of the area, i.e. greater than a distance of 100 miles from Gilroy) with hotel accommodations, one room for two nights in Gilroy. Additional room charges are the sole responsibility of the contestant.
10. Each contestant is expected to make his or her own travel arrangements to Gilroy, California. If warranted, one coach class ticket for air travel will be reimbursed to the contestant. A rental car for a contestant will be reimbursed at mid-size or smaller rate for a maximum of two days, not to exceed $55 per day.
Note: Maximum reimbursement per contestant shall not exceed $600.00.
2015 FIRST Place Winning Recipe
Shakshuka with Deep Fried Garlic
By Jodi Taffel, Altadena, CA
½ pound bacon
1 large shallot, minced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
½ cup pickled jalapeño peppers, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons ginger, grated
2 tablespoons chipotle in adobo, chopped
1 tablespoon sambal
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
4 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons dried tarragon
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup crumbles feta cheese + 2 tablespoons
7 extra large eggs
¼ cup chopped scallions (for garnish)
Deep Fried Garlic:
3 cups whole milk
2 cups olive oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1 extra large egg
1 teaspoon water
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
14 whole garlic cloves
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Roughly chop the bacon and fry in a medium sized stockpot or Dutch oven.
Remove bacon and add shallot and onion to the bacon fat.
Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until translucent.
Add the red pepper and jalapeño and cook until the red pepper is softened, about 5 more minutes.
Add the garlic, ginger, chipotle and sambal and cook 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.
Add the entire contents or the can of tomatoes, crushing the tomatoes with your hand. Cook 5 minutes.
Add the honey, paprika, tarragon and cumin. Cook for 20 minutes, lowering the heat to a low simmer as sauce begins to bubble.
Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach.
Evenly distribute the cup of feta in the bottoms of 7 individual mini casserole dishes. Pour about 1 soup ladle full of sauce on top. (The amount of sauce will vary based on the size of the mini casserole dishes). Using the bottom of the ladle, make a depression in the middle of the sauce.
Crack the eggs, individually, into a small bowl and gently pour one egg into the depression you created in each casserole dish.
Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of feta evenly over each casserole.
Place casserole dishes on a sheet tray and cook in the oven for 10 minutes. Baste the eggs with a bit of the sauce and cook another 5 minutes.
Garnish with a few cloves of deep fried garlic, some chopped scallion and fresh Barbari or pita bread.
Deep Fried Garlic:
Place garlic in a saucepan and cover with 1 cup milk. Bring to a boil, then drain.
Repeat step 1 two more times.
Place the oil in a heavy bottom saucepan and bring to 375 degrees.
Set up dredging station: 1 bowl with flour, 1 bowl with the egg and water beaten, and 1 bowl with breadcrumbs.
Working in batches of 3 or 4 at a time, dredge the garlic in flour, egg wash, then breadcrumbs and deep fry for 30 seconds or until cloves are golden brown.
2015 Second Place Recipe
Glazed Garlic-Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Savory Waffled Grits
by Lauren Katz, Ashburn, VA
2 pounds chicken breast, cut into strips
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1½ cups + 2 tablespoons buttermilk, divided
3 teaspoons salt, divided
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
3-4 cups oil for frying (canola or vegetable)
1½ cups flour
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups water
½ cup old fashioned grits
4 cloves garlic, minced
1½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup fresh chives, chopped
½ cup buttermilk
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
⅓ cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons cayenne-based hot sauce
7 dill pickle sandwich slices, cut into squares
3 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
In a gallon-sized zip top bag, combine chicken, garlic, buttermilk, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Seal and marinate for at least 1 hour (and up to 8 hours).
Begin cooking the grits, while chicken marinates. Bring water to rolling boil, slowly pouring in grits while whisking. Reduce heat to low, cover, and stir occasionally for 10 minutes. Stir in butter, cheese, and chives. Let cool for 10 minutes. Add in egg, buttermilk, flour, baking powder, soda, and sugar. Stir well to combine. Heat waffle iron and prepare surface with non-stick spray. Cook waffles according to appliance directions. Set aside, reheating in low oven if necessary.
Pre-heat oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat.
In a bowl, combine flour, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, 2 teaspoons salt, and remaining
2 tablespoons buttermilk. Mix well with a fork until clumpy mixture forms. Remove chicken strips from marinade and dredge immediately in flour mixture, making sure each strip is well coated on all sides. Fry for 4-6 minutes per side in the hot oil or until deep golden brown and crisp. Set aside.
In a small sauce pan on medium heat, sauté butter and sliced garlic for 1-2 minutes. Add maple syrup, hot sauce, and a pinch salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes or until slightly reduced and syrupy.
To assemble, place waffle on plate, top with 2-3 chicken strips, pour glaze over top (as much as desired), sprinkle with chives, and top with pickles and a toothpick. Serve immediately.
2015 Third Place Recipe
Chipotle Cilantro Chimichurri Steak on Enchiladas with Roasted Salsa Verde
by Tresa Hargrove, Lawton, OK
6 chipotles in adobo, seeded and chopped
2 Tablespoons adobo sauce from chipotle peppers
3 cups cilantro, chopped
6 cloves garlic, microplaned
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup water
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients in blender until well incorporated about 1 – 2 minutes.
5 filet mignon steaks, 1 inch thick about 4 pounds
¾ Tablespoon kosher salt
¾ Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Cut steaks in half making them ½-inch thick.
Pour ½ Chimichurri into large baggie, add steaks, marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour.
When ready to cook heat grill to high or grill pan over high heat.
Remove steaks from marinade and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Grill for 2-3 minutes per side or until desired doneness.
Charred Salsa Verde:
10 tomatillos, husks removed and washed
2 small jalapenos
6 garlic cloves, microplaned
2 cups cilantro, chopped
1/4 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
4 ounce can chopped green chilies
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup onion, minced
Heat cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot.
Place tomatillos and jalapenos in skillet, turn heat down to medium high heat.
Char tomatillos and jalapenos on all sides until black, turning as needed.
Remove seeds and stem from jalapenos.
Place tomatillos, jalapenos, garlic, cilantro, chicken bouillon, cumin, green chilies and water
Pulse-chop in blender until desired consistency.
Pour into container, stir in onion and set aside until ready to use.
16 corn tortillas
Non-stick cooking spray
1 pound block Colby Cheddar cheese, chopped
4 cups cheddar jack blend cheese, shredded
¾ cup white onion, minced
½ cup cilantro, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and pour 3 to 4 tablespoons Salas Verde in bottom of dish.
Heat large skillet over medium high heat.
Spray 1 side of each tortilla with non-stick spray.
Cook each tortilla until slightly golden on each side, being very careful not to overcook.
Lay 2 tortillas on top of each other slide the bottom one out halfway extending for rolling up.
Place 1½ tablespoons Salas Verde on the top tortilla.
Place generous amount of chopped Colby and cheddar jack cheese.
Sprinkle with desired amount of onion and cilantro.
Roll enchiladas and place in prepared baking dish, cover with foil.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, remove foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes.
Place enchilada onto plate, top with steak and drizzle with Chimichurri. Serve with additional
Chimichurri and Salsa Verde.
Great Garlic Cook-Off
Shakshuka with Deep Fried Garlic
Jodi Taffel, Altadena CA
Sarsaparilla Glazed Wild West Burgers and Southwest Sweet Potatoes
Suzanne Clark – Phoenix AZ
Carnival Style Fish Sticks with Lemony Jalapeno Mayonnaise and Spicy Apple Kohlrabi Slaw
Karen Harris – Castle Rock CO
Crispy Pork Belly with Caramelized Onion and Fig Agrodolce and Creamy Polenta
Laureen Pittman – Riverside CA
Stacked Steak Napoleon on Garlic Paper with Asparagus, Radicchio, Shiitakes and Stilton
Jamie Brown-Miller – Napa CA
Warm Weather Watermelon Crabmeat Kissed South Seas Soup
Margee Berry – Trout Lake WA
Spicy Garlic Butter Cookies with Garlic Goat Cheese and Honey
Andrew Barth – Winnetka CA
Walnut-Garlic Tart with Garlic-Infused Cream and Chili Syrup
Laurie Benda – Madison WS
Chai Steeped Chicken Breasts with
Oriental Aioli, Vegetables Vinaigrette and Spiced Black Rice
Roxanne Chan – Albany CA
Oh Baby! Prosciutto Wrapped, Roasted Garlic, Feta & Rosemary Stuffed Bellas
Jennifer A. Malfas – Orland Park IL
Basil & Garlic Stuffed Sea Scallops Wrapped in Prosciutto with a Spicy Beurre Blanc
Mary Beth Harris-Murphree – Tyler TX
Garlic Seafood Soup
Ginger Moreno – Rancho Palos Verdes CA
Grilled Candied-Garlic Salmon on Crispy Rice Noodles and Baby Asian Greens
Joann Donangelo – Salinas CA
Garlic-Scented Seafood Cakes with Citrus Salsa & Chipotle Aioli
Beth Royals – Richmond VA
Garlic Marnier Duck Pot Stickers
Adam Sanchez – Gilroy CA
Creamy Potato Gratin with Gorgonzola, Pears & Pecans
Camilla Saulsbury – Bloomington IN
Creamy Cancun Roasted Garlic Soup with Fiery Garlic Shrimp
Sharyn L. Hill – Organ NM
Garlic Spring Rolls with Garlicky-Lime Sauce
Kim Landhuis – Ft. Dodge IA
Sizzling Garlic & Citrus Shrimp
Ellen Burr – Truro MA
Garlic Country Cornmeal Scones
Patricia Lee Henry – Moreno Valley CA
Spicy Garlic Chili
Kelli Larspur-Honda – Gilroy CA
Jim Kelley – Glendale CA
Bedoni’s Oyster Boat
John Bedoni – Rocklin CA
Garlic Mushroom Soup
J.O. Manis – Mill Valley CA
Garlic & Chili Relleno Souffle
Maria Sandoval – Alameda CA
Carmelized Garlic Phyllo Focaccia
Pricilla Yee – Concord CA
Grilled Turkey Tenderloins in Garlic-Ancho Chili Sauce
Alan Dell’ario – Oakland CA
Green Card Casserole
Debbie Sheesley – Oxnard CA
Healthy Hot & Garlicky Wings
Winifred Harano – Los Angeles CA
Garlic Cheese Ravioli & Bechamel Sauce
Bob Salyers – Monterey CA
Renee’s Seafood Fra Diavolo
Renee Telese – Saugus CA
Grilled Fish with Garlic Salsa
Beverly Stone – Berkeley CA
Neil Mahoney – Ventura CA
Artichokes Alla Rosina
Rosina Wilson – Albany CA
Rudy & Gloria Melone – Gilroy CA
Jo’s Baked Garlic Soup
Jo Stallard – Pacific Grove CA
Kelly’s Asian Chicken
Kelly Greene – Mill Valley CA