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: 2015 Great Gilroy Garlic Festival Recipe Contest and Cook-Off
Revised November 12, 2014
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 2015 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 2014 Cook-Off are not eligible to enter until the call for recipes for the 2018 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., 2015 Great Garlic Recipe Contest and Cook-off, P.O. Box 2311, Gilroy, CA 95021-2311, and postmarked no later than May 1, 2015. The e-mail 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 15, 2015. 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 25, 2015, 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 25, 2015. 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.
2014 Contest Winners
2014 – First Place
Sarsaparilla Glazed Wild West Burgers and Southwest Sweet Potatoes
By Suzanne Clark, Phoenix AZ
4 teaspoons of butter
2/3 cup of shallots
4 cups of Sarsaparilla soda (root beer can substituted)
1/8 cup of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of corn starch
2/3 cup of water
2/3 cup of cider vinegar
¼ cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of pickling spice, wrapped cheese cloth
1 teaspoon of salt
½ of a sweet onion
14 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup of diced Jicama
1 poblano or Anaheim pepper, cut in half
½ of a red bell pepper
1 ear of corn
2/3 cup of good quality mayonnaise
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 chipotle pepper packed in adobo sauce, finely diced
2 teaspoons of lime zest
Southwestern Sweet Potatoes
12 slices of thick cut peppered bacon
2 1/2 tablespoon of smoked paprika
2 teaspoons of ancho chili powder
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 tablespoon of sugar
1/8 cup of vegetable oil
3 cups of peeled and diced sweet potatoes
½ cup of diced onion
½ cup of diced red pepper
5 cloves of minced garlic
¼ cup diced fresh parsley
Wild West Burger
1 ½ pounds of ground bison (buffalo)
½ pound of loose ground Mexican pork chorizo sausage
1 teaspoon of salt
4 cloves of crushed garlic
3 diced green onions
6 onion buns, split in half
In a large cast iron skillet, add butter and shallots. Cook over medium heat until shallots soften, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in sarsaparilla, vinegar and corn starch. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until reduced to about 1 cup and mixture is thick and syrupy. Remove Sarsaparilla Glaze from heat and reserve until needed.
In a medium size saucepan, add water, vinegar, brown sugar, pickling spice and salt. Bring mixture to a boil. Cut onion into thin rings, then cut into bite size pieces and add to boiling mixture along with the sliced garlic. Cook for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and add jicama. Let relish sit for at least 30 minutes or more to pickle. Brush peppers and corn lightly with vegetable oil. Place on medium high grill or in a 400 degree oven. Roast until lightly charred. 3-4 minutes on each side on grill, about 20 minutes in oven. Remove charred skin on peppers and dice. Remove corn from the cob. Drain off liquid, and add roasted vegetables to relish right before serving.
To create Wrangler Sauce, combine mayo, garlic, chipotle and lime zest in a small bowl. Refrigerate until needed.
Place bacon on a rack fitted on a cooking sheet. In a small bowl, combine smoked paprika, chili powder, cinnamon, salt and sugar.
Line another baking sheet with foil and add oil, sweet potatoes, onions and bell peppers. Place both pans into a preheated 400 degree oven. Remove bacon when crispy, about 20 minutes. Remove sweet potatoes after 30 minutes. Stir, and add garlic. Return to oven for an additional 10 minutes or until edges of potatoes start to brown. Toss in fresh parsley.
In a large mixing bowl combine bison, chorizo, salt, garlic and green onion. Gently mix ingredients together. Divide into six portions and form into patties a little larger than burger bun. Brush grill grate with oil, and place patties on grill. (Patties can also be cooked in a cast iron pan on a stove top.) Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until meat is cooked through. Remove patties, and place into skillet with Sarsaparilla Glaze, coating patties well with mixture.
To assemble burgers, place 2 slices of crispy bacon followed by the patty on bottom portion of bun. Drizzle on any extra sauce that remains in the pan. Next place a portion of the Wrangler Relish on top of patty. Generously cover top portion of bun with Cowboy Sauce and place on top of burger. Serve with Southwest Sweet Potatoes!
2014 – Second Place
Garlic Pepper Bacon Jam Pork Tenderloin Sliders with Fried “Piggles”
By Chera Little, Austin TX
Red Pepper Jam (Part of this jam will be used to baste bacon wrapped pork)
12 slices maple bacon (thin, not thick packaged bacon)
3/4 cup thinly chopped purple onion
1 cup red pepper jelly
1/2 cup Fresno peppers (if not available, substitute red bell pepper or the sweet mini peppers that come in red, yellow or orange)
1/2 cup fresh minced sage
3 tablespoons chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, seeded and finely minced, plus 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce
3 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
Juice of 2 large limes (approximately 1/3 cup), plus zest of 1 lime (about 2 teaspoons)
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup balsamic vinegar
Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
1/2 cup fresh rosemary, removed from stem and finely minced
3 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 tablespoons fresh sage, rough chopped
2 tablespoons smoked paprika pepper
2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
3 teaspoons garlic salt
1/2 cup olive oil, reserve a few tablespoons for searing
28 (1/4 inch thick or smaller) slices of bacon, reserve 16 slices for the “piggles”
3 lean pork tenderloins (about 11/2 pounds each), excessive fat trimmed away and if present, silver skin removed
Bacon Wrapped Pickles “Piggles”
16 ounce jar WHOLE BABY Kosher Dill Pickles or WHOLE BABY Dill Pickles, sliced lengthwise, seeds removed
Reserved bacon from pork tenderloin, slice in half
1 cup olive oil
24 Kings Hawaiian Dinner Rolls
3 tablespoons sweet cream salted butter, brought to room temperature
11/2 tablespoons fresh chopped sage
1 tablespoon fresh, finely minced garlic
1 cup arugula
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon garlic juice from a jar
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
3/4 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
25 – 30 Knotted Bamboo Picks, 4 inches long or some type of food pick that is at least 4 inches long
For the Jam
To a medium size sauté pan add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove to paper towels and set aside for when plating complete dish. Add the onions to the bacon grease and cook until translucent. Add the jelly, peppers, sage, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, garlic, lime juice, and lime zest. Perform a quick taste and at this point add kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, cook for 5 minutes and then remove 1 cup of the sauce to a large measuring cup with a handle. Continue cooking remaining sauce at simmer for 15 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.
For the Basting Liquid
Stir vinegar into the measuring cup and have on hand for basting the pork.
For the Tenderloin
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
To a small bowl, stir together the rosemary, granulated garlic, sage, paprika, garlic, pepper, and salt. Line a work surface area with parchment paper. Cover the pork tenderloin in oil and then rub in the seasoning. Wrap 4 – 6 strips of bacon around the pork and secure with kitchen twine. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a medium size skillet and sear tenderloin on all sides until golden brown. Transfer seared pork to a medium roasting pan, baste the meat; place in oven and cook 8 – 12 minutes (baste midway through), flip the meat and cook for another 6 – 8 minutes (basting again midway through) or until internal temperature of the thickest side reaches 145 – 150 degrees. Tent with foil and let rest (the pork will continue to cook but will come out lightly pink and very juicy). Remove meat and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. Discard the twine and bacon and slice on the tenderloin on the bias.
For the Piggles
Slice enough pickles in half to equal 16 slices. Remove the seeds and wrap in in one half slice of bacon. Add oil to a medium size pan and heat oil until shimmering. Drop in the piggles without overcrowding and cook over medium high heat until bacon becomes crisp on all sides. Remove to paper towels.
For the Buns
Blend the butter, sage, garlic, and salt. Split the buns and spread with butter mixture on one side of each bun. Place in oven and heat according to package directions.
To Assemble the Sliders
To a medium size bowl, mix the arugula, oil, lemon juice, garlic juice, and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Spread the jam evenly on each bun, equally divide and add the shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, equally divide and add the pork, top the pork with equal portions of bacon and arugula. If there is jam leftover, drizzle it on now. Close the slider. Place a piggle on the pick and then stick the slider so that all layers stay together.
The jam can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
2014 – Third Place Winner
Crispy Pork Plantacos with Garlicky Black Bean Sauce
By Jennifer Beckman, Falls Church VA
Makes 12 tacos
For the pork
3 lbs boneless country style pork ribs
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons cooking oil (I use coconut)
2 heads garlic, halved through the equator
1 cup chicken stock
2 strips orange peel, pith removed
For the plantain tortillas
3 yellow plantains
2 egg whites
½ teaspoon kosher salt
juice of ½ a lime
2 cloves of garlic, minced
For the garlicky black bean sauce
1 tablespoon cooking oil (I use coconut)
2 serrano peppers, stems, ribs, and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup orange juice
½ cup chicken stock
For the pickled onions
1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons cooking oil
pickled red onion*
chopped fresh cilantro
To make the ribs, generously salt the pork ribs. Heat the oil in a large pressure cooker and brown the ribs, working in batches if needed. Return the browned ribs to the pressure cooker, add garlic, chicken stock, and orange peel, and lock the lid. Bring pot up to pressure over medium heat, then cook 50-60 minutes. Release pressure, open pressure cooker, and remove meat. Shred meat into a bowl, removing any large chunks of unrendered fat. Squeeze garlic halves to extract the tender cloves, and add to pork.
To make the plantain tortillas, combine plantains, egg whites, kosher salt, lime juice, and garlic in a food processor and puree until smooth. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 3 baking trays with parchment paper. Drop 2-tablespoon dollops of plantain batter onto the baking trays, 4 per sheet, then use the back of a spoon to smooth into 5-inch rounds. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, until dry on top and browned on the edges. Gently peel each tortilla off the parchment paper.
To make the black bean sauce, heat the cooking oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Saute the serranno peppers until starting to wilt, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin, and saute until fragrant, just 60 seconds. Add salt, black beans, orange juice and chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Using a food processor or immersion blender, puree until smooth. Season with additional salt.
To pickle the onions, pack sliced onions into a glass jar. Combine 1 cup boiling water with kosher salt, sugar, and cider vinegar, and stir to combine. Pour over red onions in jar, cool to room temperature, then chill before serving. Pickled onions will keep for 2 months in the refrigerator.
To serve, heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, and add pork. Turning frequently, cook until edges crisp. On a griddle or a second skillet, heat the cooking oil, then reheat the plantain tortillas until browned in spots and crisp at the edges. Transfer tortillas to serving plates, then top each with crispy pork, a drizzle of black bean sauce, avocado slices, pickled onions, and cilantro. Serve immediately.
Great Garlic Cook-Off
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