Friday, 24 May 2024

Foodie Freak: The inaugural Catfish Derby Cook-Off

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The 26th annual Catfish Derby will be held in Clearlake Oaks the weekend of May 15, 16 and 17, and included in this year’s festivities will be the inaugural Catfish Derby Cook-Off.


Get out your old family recipes or pull something new out of your head, because the prestige alone in winning the inaugural event is worth it. We hope to see some really inspired and creative dishes to start this tradition off right.


Cooking will be done at the Live Oak Senior Center, 12502 Foothill Blvd., and judging will take place at the Clearlake Oaks fire station.


The entry fee is $15 if entered before May 2, entries received after May 2 will be $20. Visit www.clearlakeoaks.org for entry forms and complete contest rules.


Wondering where to find catfish? Catfish filets will be available for purchase at the Nylander’s Red and White Grocery store nearby the cooking facilities the week of the competition.


Entries for this contest can consist of any category of food, e.g., breakfast, lunch, or dinner; main course, salad, side dish or dessert; hors d’oeuvres or beverage; but all entries must contain catfish.


Best catfish recipe awards are as follows:


  • First prize: $250 cash, wines from almost every winery in the county and a trophy;

  • Second prize: $150 cash, a wine basket from the Lake County Winegrape Commission and a trophy (estimated values, $350);

  • Third prize $100 cash and a trophy.


There also will be a trophy awarded for the most unique dish, and another for the person who travels the farthest distance to enter.


Anyone over 21 years old can enter (Lake County wines will be among the awards and you must be 21 years old to receive).


The competition will take place on Saturday, May 16.


For the contest's complete rules go to www.clearlakeoaks.org. Failure to follow the complete official rules may result in disqualification.


Here is a brief rundown of the rules.


1. Eligibility. Anyone is eligible to enter, whether amateur or professional cook/chef. Must be 21 years or older to enter (alcoholic prizes will be awarded). Entry fee is $15 per recipe entered. Entries arriving after May 2nd will still be accepted, but the entry fee will then be $20. Entrants may present more than one dish, but each entry will be considered separately. All recipes must contain catfish.


2. Procedures and policies. Anyone can enter by sending their name, address, phone number, and name of dish to be cooked with the appropriate entry fee to: Catfish Derby, P.O. Box 1211, Clearlake Oaks, CA 95423. Entry deadline is May 2, though late entries will be accepted (see above). On May 9, every entrant will receive notification of their time slot when the kitchen at the Live Oak Senior Center will be available for them to do their final cooking and plating. Competition will begin at 10 a.m. Entrants will have 20 minutes to cook and plate their dish. The final cooking and plating must be done at the senior center. Basic food preparations are to be done off site – no facilities for preparation will be provided. To promote uniformity of entries, covered containers will be provided for each entry for transportation and presentation to the judging area. No raw fish of any type may be presented. Entrants will need to prepare four servings of each entry, one for each of the three judges and one for the announcer outside so that he/she may give a description to the audience of what is being judged.


3. Judging. Judging will be based on taste, presentation, and on any particular factors at the judges’ discretion. Judges will rate each dish independently, giving each a score of up to 10 points for taste, up to five points for presentation, and up to five points to be awarded at each judge’s personal discretion. Criteria for “most unique” will be subject to the judges’ interpretation of items that were beyond expectation, represented a new concept, or surprised the judges in some way. The panel of judges will be introduced and present at the time the winners are announced. All decisions by the judges and the Catfish Derby Committee are final.


So get creative, have fun, and we’ll see you there!


Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community.

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