For the past few years, I’ve had the honor of judging many cooking competitions. In terms of food quality, my favorites have been ingredient-specific: Cochon 555 and Lamb Jam Seattle. The former has made me fatter, while the latter has made a real lamb lover out of me.
And the latter returns to Seattle on October 23 (3pm-6pm at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center) for the third consecutive year.
Like many, I grew up eating lots of meat, basically beef, pork, and chicken. Not until an adult did I discover lamb—and only recently did I start cooking it.
When the American Lamb Association surprised me this summer with a meaty delivery, I was delighted. Inside the ice-packed box: five pounds of lamb leg, cut for kabobs. With a pot-luck barbeque event just two days away, I knew what I was preparing.
I made a marinade of olive oil, honey, and lemon juice, adding in onions, garlic, rosemary, and mint. After an overnight in the marination bath, I pulled out the lamb and skewered them up with onions and bell peppers. In less than ten minutes of time on the grill, they were done. Judging by the reaction of the partygoers, they were a winner.
Everyone attending Lamb Jam Seattle gets to judge the dishes that 19 chefs will be preparing, with the winner crowned with the People’s Choice Award. Attendees will do their judging under the influence of samples from some of Washington’s finest wineries. That’s lots of great food and drinks, plus entertainment, for $50 per ticket.
Meanwhile, I’ll be sequestered with other judges choosing winners for 1st Place Awards for Shoulder, Leg of Lamb, Shank, and Loin tastes. We’ll also name a Best in Show. In 2010, that honor went to Chef Mark Bodinet from Copperleaf Restaurant at the Cedarbrook Lodge for his grilled lamb shoulder confit with creamy parsnips and preserved huckleberries. Delicious, like the entire event.