Cupcake Crazy

Sooo good!

September 12th was the annual fair Cupcake Contest, and wow, did all the entries look delicious.  Contestants submitted their recipes in July, all of which were homemade with ingredients you can find at your local stores (Them’s the rules!).  On the big day, each contestant brought six delectable offerings for this year’s judges.

Regina Young, Marissa Ceja, Carlos Velesqez, and Laurie Brandler were our four distinguished experts for today’s event.  All four were beyond pleased to take part, and were full of smiles throughout the event.

Participants were graded on four different aspects, of varying importance:

  • Overall Taste                        40%
  • Originality/Creativity             30%
  • Appearance/Presentation     20%
  • Ease of preparation              10%

After sampling from each of the 11 contestants, the judges picked three outstanding examples of this culinary delight.

In 3rd place, with her light and fluffy Lemon Blueberry with Lemon Buttercream cupcake, is April Burton!

2nd place goes to Pepper Parker, with her scrumptious Banana Pudding cupcakes.

The coveted 1st place is awarded to Monine Zerby, for her Boozy Caramel Apple cupcake.  Need I say more?  All participants then began a cupcake trading bonanza, and who could blame them, with all of the entries looking so mouth watering?

If you think you have what it takes to be top baker here at the fair, check in online for next year’s entry forms.  Who knows, it could be you taking home that colorful Rosette with your cupcake supreme~!


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You Know You Want a Blue Ribbon

Sure, the Fair is still six months away but it’s not too early to be thinking of entering your best cookie or salsa recipe or your best photograph into one of our fun & exciting contests and competitions. Entries are open for all categories in Culinary Styles, Tapestry and America’s Kids. You look great in blue (ribbon, that is), so what are you waiting for?

Culinary Styles features preserved foods, baked goods and several specialty categories like cheesecake recipe, all-American pie, BBQ, cupcakes and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Every year the judges have a blast tasting all the goodies, and Fairguests love seeing who runs away with a first place. Deadlines for entry are:

  • Preserved foods – June 25
  • Baked goods and other featured contests - Aug. 2
  • Tablescaping – July 19 (hurry, this one fills up fast!)

Tapestry, which includes jewelry, arts & crafts, needle art and photography, has a June 25 deadline.

America’s Kids is themed A Living Library of Fun (part 2) – a continuation of last year’s fun adventure where books came to life. Competitions include magic shoes (turn an ordinary pair of shoes into something spectacular), build a model hot air balloon, creative cakes, build a scarecrow, crafts, writing and so much more. Deadline for America’s Kids competitions is June 27.

Details, including rules & regulations and entry forms, for all the contests and competitions can be found at

Ok, ready, set – cook and create!


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Food Competitions Come to a Close

From the first weekend of the Fair we have had non-stop food competitions, from the Ghirardelli chocolate creations to cupcake mixtures, from grilled cheese recipes to BBQ cook-offs, the list goes on and on. Sadly, the fun had to end this afternoon but we had some fun with pizza and salad!

Peggy Linberg from Upland took first in the pizza category with her four-cheese arugula and pine nuts recipe while Montebello resident Joanne Magno took second prize with her sausage and pepper mixture. Lauren Jarvis placed third with his smoked salmon, dill and goat cheese pizza.

The salad competition was a unique blend of flavors from every entry. The three categories were pasta, vegetarian and meat salads. Peggy placed first in the vegetarian category with her Mediterranean quinoa salad, served in a lettuce bowl. First place in the pasta category went to Lauren Jarvis for his beautiful oriental pasta salad and George Rametta placed first in the meat category for his rasberry asada steak salad, mixed with avocado and feta cheese.

All in all, the final food competition was the perfect end to the Fair, mixing the sinfully cheesy pizzas with the refreshing flavors of salad. Personally, my favorite competition to watch was the Ghirardelli one. You just can’t beat the sweet scent of chocolate! Each event featured an incredibly large pool of talent and creativity, however. I wonder what next year will bring…



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The most delicious food competition yet

Today’s food competition was all about the chocolate: Chocolate chip cookies and brownies, that is. Walking into Culinary Styles is like a waft of heaven with the warm, inviting scents of freshly baked cookies and rich, chocolaty brownies drifting towards your nose. I have to say, I envy the judges of their job yesterday!

Frank n Chips

In first place for chocolate chip cookies was David Miller, Los Angeles with his Gramercy recipe, a gooey sweet treat that made the judges coo in delight. Second place went to Jessica Kubel, Monrovia for her unique chocolate bacon toffee cookies. In third was Maya Howard, Montclair for her fun Frank n Chips cookies, getting into the spirit of Fall with a classic Halloween character.

The brownies were equally fun to look at. Danielle Buckland from Ontario snagged first with her Blondies brownies creation. Jessica Kubel took second again with her white chocolate mixture!

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Let the chips fall where they may – they’ll come up winners if they’re chocolate!

Marina Castle, First Place, Blue Ribbon Chocolate Chip Cookies

These certainly weren’t your grandmother’s Hershey-variety chocolate chip cookies. Competitors in the Blue Ribbon Chocolate Chip Cookie & Brownie competition held Sept. 18 used plenty of exotic ingredients in their winning recipes.

Take for example, First-Place winner Marina Castle’s Decadence Chocolate Chip Cookies. The North Hollywood resident and Culinary Styles competitor since 1985 added mocha cappuccino mix, instant chocolate pudding mix, chopped malted milk balls to up the decadence quotient 10-fold.

Second-Place winner Monine Zerby of West Covina added dried pineapple and chopped roasted, salted macadamia nuts to her aptly named Tropical Chip Cookies.

Cathy Hagerty-Clemens of Fullerton placed Third with Mouth-Warming Chocolate Chip Cookies that got their heat from a ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Instant coffee granules and bittersweet chocolate chips added distinct flavors.

Cathy Hagerty-Clemens, First Place, Brownies

Hagerty-Clemens added another win – First Place for her Dark Chocolate Caramel Cashew Brownie – a recipe that included 40 caramels and chopped cashews for the topping.

Castle won another ribbon, Second Place, for her Raspberry-Almond Brownie Cups that were served a la cupcakes in wrappers.

Caramel starred again in Kelly Hagerty-Clemens’ Sweet Chloe’s Favorite Ooie Gooie Caramel Pecan Brownies that earned the Lake Havasu City, Ariz., resident Third Place.

Winners of the Brownie competition at the 2010 L.A. County Fair were, from left, Cathy Hagerty-Clemens of Fullerton, first place; Marina Castle of North Hollywood, second place, and Kelly Hagerty-Clemens of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., third place.

Winners of the Blue Ribbon Chocolate Chip Cookie competition at the 2010 L.A. County Fair were, from left, Marina Castle of North Hollywood, first place; Monine Zerby of West Covina, second place, and Cathy Hagerty-Clemens of Fullerton, third place.

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Chocolate’s Guaranteed to Attract a Crowd

Fairguests watch the Ghirardelli Chocolate Champions contest on Sept. 18.

One of the most anticipated Culinary Styles contests brought out chocolate lovers of all ages on Saturday, Sept. 18 – the Ghirardelli Chocolate Champion Contest.

The scent of rich chocolate – dark, milk, white and every variation thereof – filled the contest area as competitors delivered precious choco cargo before judging started at 1 p.m. There was a definite buzz of anticipation as passersby stopped not only to observe the judging but to simply inhale.

Thirty-three contestants turned out, bringing a wide variety of treats – cakes, mousses, cookies, cupcakes, brownies, tortes, candies – to challenge any expert to choose first-, second- and third-place winners.

Winning entries were a diverse lot – mousse, cookies, cakes – offered by contestants from near and far.

Chino resident Kathleen L. Cable’s S’more-iffic Cup of Ghirardelli Chocolate Mousse won First Place of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Champion contest.

Chino resident Kathleen L. Cable’s S’more-iffic Cup of Ghirardelli Chocolate Mousse won the First Place ribbon, $150 and a Ghirardelli Gift Basket. In addition to the “great blend of flavors” the judges praised Cable’s presentation as “worthy of a gourmet magazine.” Her s’mores inspiration was complete with a toasted marshmallow topping each mug of rich mousse to be enjoyed by accompanying chocolate-dipped spoons.

Fullerton resident Kevin N. Haw’s Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake won Second Place, $50 and a Ghirardelli Gift Basket. The judges enjoyed each layer of texture from the bottom up: chocolate cake, chocolate mousse and white chocolate cream cheese.

North Hollywood resident Gigi D’Amore’s Dark Chocolate Chipotle Cookies won Third Place. Judges noted her creation’s “great cookie texture” and the chipotle “heat creeps up on you” for good flavor.

Heather Moloian of Thousand Oaks earned an honorable mention with her Pecan Chocolate Roca Torte that judges enjoyed for its toasted nuts and toffee.

Fullerton resident Kevin N. Haw’s Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake won Second Place.

North Hollywood resident Gigi D’Amore’s Dark Chocolate Chipotle Cookies won Third Place

Thousand Oaks resident Heather Moloian’s Pecan Chocolate Roca Torte won Honorable Mention

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Talk about The Whole Enchilada!

Gayle Bauer of La Verne won 1st place blue ribbons for Best Enchilada Recipe for both chicken and vegetable categories.

Gayle Bauer of La Verne literally took home the whole enchilada, winning the Best Enchilada Recipe contest at the 2010 L.A. County Fair. She won 1st place in both the chicken and vegetable enchilada categories.

The Culinary Styles judges particularly praised Bauer’s Chicken Enchiladas for the creamy texture achieved from her blending of whipping cream and chicken bouillon for the sauce in which she dipped tortillas.

Her Surprise Vegetable Enchiladas did indeed have a surprise ingredient – tofu. The tofu was sautéed until golden brown, then combined with onion, zucchini cubes, black olives, corn, cilantro and cheese for the delectable filling.

Juliet Murphy of Fontana won second place in the chicken enchilada contest with her Chicken Relleno Enchilada. Rellenos of shredded chicken, mozzarella cheese and chopped black olives wrapped in pasilla chiles were then rolled into tortillas dipped in green enchilada sauce.

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Big Dippers

These folks take their party dips seriously. Actually their guacamole and salsa dips seriously.

Peggy Linberg of Upland won first place for the 2010 Perfect Guacamole contest with her Cobb-amole, a recipe incorporating the best parts of the classic Cobb Salad – crumbled bleu cheese, bacon and sour cream – into a chopped avocado mixture. Yum!

Second place in the guacamole category was won by Gayle Bauer of La Verne with her Guac Your World Guacamole that featured her own Fresh and Easy Salsa (Pico de Gallo) along with cilantro.

April Burton of Rowland Heights named her third-place winner Guacamole a la Mom that had flavors of a roasted serrano chile. Any Mom would be proud.

Tomatillos, serrano and habanero chiles were the stars of the first place winner for Best Salsa – Steve’s Super Salsa created by Steve Motisi of Claremont.

It was truly Salsa Deliciosa for second place Salsa winner Anna Marie Martinet of Pico Rivera. Roasted anaheim, yellow, serrano chiles and chile arbol gave this salsa a memorable flavor.

Third-place Salsa winner Teri Siciliano of Brea called her salsa Cowboy Caviar. The “caviar” combined white corn, black-eyed peas, black beans, white beans with jalapeno, serrano, yellow wax and habanero chiles.

You, too, can join all the cooking competitions at next year’s Fair. Contact the Culinary Styles department for details.

Winners of the Perfect Guacamole Contest at the 2010 L.A. County Fair are, from left, Barrie Linberg, daughter of first place-winner Peggy Linberg of Upland; Gayle Bauer of La Verne, second place; and April Burton of Rowland Heights, third place.

Winners of the Salsa Contest at the 2010 L.A. County Fair are, from left, Joseph S. Motisi of Claremont, first place; Anna Marie Martinet of Pico Rivera, second place; and Teri Siciliano of Brea, third place.

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Yum! The 2010 All American Pie Contest – heaven in a pie pan

I don’t know about you, but I’ll take pie over cake any time, and covering the All American Pie contest earlier this week was pure mouth-watering heaven.

The contest was intense as judges lingered over each entry, taking just one more bite (two or three – wouldn’t you?) to make sure they picked the right winners. And they lingered, then lingered some more. The entries were that good!

Finally the ribbons were awarded and proud winners were photographed by friends and family (who could finally enjoy slices of their own).

Here they are:

2010 All American Pie - Custard Winners

BEST CUSTARD PIE (from left):
1) Jessica Kubel of Monrovia, Key Lime Pie
2) Emily Coffman of Moreno Valley, Roasted Acorn Squash and Apple Pie
3) Norma Barajas of Pasadena, Key Lime Pie

2010 All American Pie -- Cream Winners

BEST CREAM PIE (from left):
1) Peggy Linberg of Upland, Strawberry Cream Pie with a Triple Berry Layer
2) Marina Castle of North Hollywood,
Seven Layer Dulce de Leche-Peanut Butter Mousse Toffee Cream Pie;
3) Dawn-Michele Anaya of Whittier, Key Lime Pie.

2010 All American Pie -- Double Crust Fruit winners

1) Rebecca Mourer of La Habra, Blueberry-Raspberry Pie
2) Robin van Geest of Norco, Caramel Apple Pie
3) Avis N. Mitchell of Fontana, Avis’ Hot Apple Pie.

And there’s more food contest action to meet any appetite in Culinary Styles (you’ll find that in the Grandstand). Don’t miss these, bon appetit!

Cupcake Baking Contest: Saturday, Sept. 11, 1 p.m.
European Pastry Contest: Sunday, Sept. 12, 1 p.m.
Tamale! Tamale! Tamale!: Wednesday, Sept. 15, 1 p.m.
Enchilada Contest: Wednesday, Sept. 15, 4 p.m.
The Perfect Guacamole and Salsa Dip Contest: Wednesday, Sept. 15, 7 p.m.
Run for the Fair Contest: Thursday, Sept. 16, 7:30 p.m.
Fleischmann’s Yeast Bake for the Cure Baking Contest: Friday, Sept. 17, 7 p.m.
Ghirardelli Chocolate Championship: Saturday, Sept. 18, 1 p.m.
Blue Ribbon Chocolate Chip Cookie & Brownie Contest: Saturday, Sept. 18, 7 p.m.
Big Baking & Recipe Contest: Sunday, Sept. 19, 7 p.m.
The Perfect Reception Cake: Saturday, Sept. 25, 1 p.m.
Karo Perfect Pie Contest: Saturday, Sept. 25, 7 p.m.
Shelton’s Leftover Turkey Main Dish Contest: Sunday, Sept. 26, 7 p.m.
Pumpkin Contest: Oct. 2, 1 p.m.
Homemade Pizza Contest: Oct. 3, 1 p.m.



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BBQ and Chili Contests Just Perfect for Labor Day Weekend Fun

Culinary Styles kicks off the 2010 contest season Sunday with the much-anticipated Best BBQ, BBQ Sauce and Chili contests. Just follow your nose to the Big BBQ Ranch at Wilderness Ridge by noon to see all the action.

The Best BBQ Sauce Contest with eight contestants starts at noon with judges rating sauces on taste, appearance, overall appeal and texture to award the 1st place Rosette and $25 and Rosettes for 2nd and 3rd places.

Next up is the Chili Cook-Off at 1 p.m. when seven competitors vie with recipes for bold, Tex-Mex, meaty, veggie and others for the 1st place Rosette and $25 and Rosettes for 2nd and 3rd.

The Best BBQ Contest wraps up the day at 2 p.m. when judges will evaluate recipes for fish, pork, beef and poultry submitted by 16 competitors. They’ll be looking for flavor, tenderness and juiciness, the use of side dishes cooked on the grill to complement the main entrée, and the overall table theme. They’ll also ask contestants about the preparation of the entrée, side dishes and general knowledge of equipment. Prizes are 1st Place – $100 and Rosette, 2nd Place – $75 and Rosette, and 3rd Place, $50 and Rosette for all meat classs, and the Best in Show winner will take home a Rosette and $300.

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