NORTH BEND — OK, one of the judges.
Despite having done this Cuisine section for the better part of 14 years, I'm still not comfortable judging other people's food.
Taste is such a subjective thing.
The judging panel for the Food Truck Off included travel and food writers from all over the Pacific Northwest as well as MasterChef Eoghain O'…
Take the winning entry this year: One judge thought everything about the sandwich was fabulous. Another said it didn't do much for him. Me, I leaned closer to fabulous.
So, over the years I've turned down more offers to judge contests than I've accepted.
I do make an exception for the Food Truck Off hosted by The Mill Casino. While I think I fit in with all the food and travel writers that come from all over the Pacific Northwest, it's still tough sitting next to executive chefs, and in this case, add in MasterChef Eoghain O'Neill from Restaurant O.
These guys are intimidating. They know food ... everything about food. I know what I like. There's a big difference.
I love the creativity of a contest like this.
How many other places are you going to have donuts competing against hot links, or noodle creations going side-by-side with Hawaiian-themed dishes?
Mini-donuts from Coastal Donuts took judges on a small flavorful journey from the 1980's to today, with versions of donuts that brought back m…
This judging took place over two days. On Saturday, we judged three categories: Barbecue, "Kitchen Sink," and Global cuisine. On Sunday, it was Tacos and finally Sandwiches.
We dug in to the barbecue category first and sampled ribs, brisket, bacon-wrapped sausage bites, roast beef, barbecued chicken and macaroni and cheese.
The judges were divided on this category. Some of the judges liked the ribs from Kiko's Barbecue better than the others, but some like the brisket from Elkhorn BBQ. I think what pushed Kiko's over the top in this category was the macaroni and cheese side dish. It was definitely one of the most talked about items from either day.
The barbecue competitors from left to right: Fat Back BBQ, Kiko's Barbecue and Elkhorn BBQ.
Next up was "Kitchen Sink." This is the category for items that don't fit neatly into the other categories. There were two entries here, Coastal Donuts and Papa's Doggs.
Papa's Doggs creation would be a perfect fit at the recently concluded county fair. It came with a hot link, macaroni and cheese and a cheese sauce similar to a Philly cheesesteak.
Coastal Donuts offered four mini donuts, each with a topping that was supposed to remind us of the 1980s, '90s, 2000s and now. The first frosting was a creamy peanut butter to hint back at the old PB&J. Then there was and Oreo cookie crumble, strawberry shortcake and maple bacon.
Executive Chef Roberto Pedrini from The Mill would later say the "donuts were like eating sweet clouds."
The Global Cuisine category brought out even more variety. Big Noodle offered up a foil bag with noodles, tomato, chicken, black and green olives and capers.
West Coast Bitez came up with barbecued chicken, sliced beef, sticky rice and a pasta salad.
And Walter's Wurstwagen had a hand-stuffed sausage with spicy mustard, pickled beets and kraut and a cucumber salad.
The barbecued chicken probably pushed West Coast Bitez to the victory in this category.
Day 1 came to a filling end.
Only two categories on Day 2, but as all the judges found out, there was just as much food, if not more.
The taco category featured Sprengelmeyer's against Lost Liner Seafood. Both came with a seafood variety. Sprengelmeyer's tried a cranberry chipotle glaze rockfish taco and Lost Liner offered up a shrimp taco. The double-shelled crispy taco from Lost Liner may have suffered from the time lapse of getting from the truck to the judging area. The excessive crunchiness made it hard to enjoy what was a very tasty filling.
The taco category had only two entries this year, the winning entry from Sprengelmeyer's is on the left and Lost Liner Seafood's shrimp taco i…
A chat with Mike "The Bear" from K-DOCK radio had us wondering what if the Lost Liner filling would have had a Sprengelmeyer homemade organic taco shell.
The final category would produce this year's winning entry from Big Fat Weiner. They have won the judge's choice the past two years.
This year's creation was enormous. I stopped counting the layers after I got from bottom bun, slaw, corn, fried chicken breast, macaroni and cheese and pork belly.
Anything on top of that was just a blur. Except for the softboiled egg done directly into the top bun. This made it interesting to even try to hold this "sandwich." All the places you wanted to put your fingers to try and hold it together had egg on it.
Autumn decided this was the perfect time to break out her camera and take a video. So out there somewhere is me trying to take a bite of this massive sandwich (I think I got everything but the bottom bun on the first bite) and her laughing in the background.
I'm hoping that video stays right where it is.
Thank goodness I didn't get anything on my shirt.
Katherine, if you're looking to start a list for next year's judges, consider this me volunteering.