Thursday, June 9, 2016

On the Unique Non-Coms offered at ToC

A few words on the tournaments from Becky "Naralia" Garbos:

Some of our more unique tournaments are our cooking tournaments. We have brewers, dessert, and campfire chopped. The dessert and chopped tournaments come from the love of cooking that both Ben Greene and I share.

I introduced the Dessert tournament several years ago. Probably around 10 years ago now. I love baking myself and I knew there was a lot one could do to make a delicious dessert over a campfire. We do not supply anything. Bring us your best dish. Be as creative as you want.

The first few years we got they typical desserts one would think of. Then they tried to get really fancy on us. We have had some very interesting desserts. Some so good, we couldn't stop eating them and others not so good. We've had cakes and pies. Stuffed strawberries. Banana boats. Pudding. And even a popcorn ball once. We like things that are well made and looks good as well as tastes good. 

  The Campfire Chopped tournament is run just like the show. Jana goes out and picks up the food that will be in the "basket." People are given a set of ingredients, all of which they must include in their final dish. We also provide a small limited pantry. And they can also use whatever they brought themselves. They also have to provide their own cooking equipment. The winner of the previous year gets to judge the present year competition. I personally have tried a lot of foods I normally don't eat because of this tournament. The food is always very good and can be hard to judge. 

Our baskets vary from year to year. You never know what you're going to get. It could be the year of the cans. Or everything fresh. Or some sort of combination. Jana could have found a new fruit to try. Ya just never know. 

The Brewers Competition has been running for longer than I've been an event-holder for this event. For years we kept having the same guy win. His stuff was always extremely good. We've asked him to stop participating. And offered to let him judge. If you brew it, we'll judge it. No mixed cocktails. We are looking true homemade alcohol. 

All of these tournaments are marshaled by the event-holders. We love these. That is why we've moved them to Sunday night. We can give them the attention that they deserve. By Sunday, we are more relaxed. We have less going on. We would love more people to enter all of them. There is usually no more than three entrants in each. And often time the same three. The judging criteria for all are about the same. We look for how well it's cooked. How good it tastes. How it's presented. We also look at how unique it is. We like for people to be creative. 
The Bookmaking tournament is very deceptive. It is not making books. I thought that same thing when I started at this event back in 2003. It's part of our thieves' tournaments. Those that participate know what it is. 

We also do a Monopoly tournament with a Realms-opoly board. It was the first tournament I introduced. I'm pretty sure we were the first event that ran this as a tournament. I personally collect monopoly games, so it makes sense that I would want this as a tournament.  I wish I had pictures of the board. It's pretty awesome. 

We also do Jenga and I'm not sure if anyone else does. We don't change the rules of it at all and it seems super popular.

Every few years or so we take a look at our tournaments and try to mix things up and keep it fresh. We add things we think people will like. We also take off things no one seems to want to do. We are also open to ideas. Not promising we'll use them, but we'll listen.

My experience in Campfire Chopped by Matthew "Salbastro" Alberghini:

This year's Tournaments of Creathorne was my first TOC as well as my first ever Realms event, so winning the campfire chopped tournament was a huge surprise.

At around 7:30, me and the two other competitors gathered at the tavern to hear the rules and receive the ingredients. We had an hour and a half to cook 3 courses, an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert, and throughout those three courses we had to incorporate ground beef, veggie patty, mushrooms, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, gouda cheese, Greek yogurt, Fruity Pebbles, pineapple and mini bagels. My appetizer was rather plain, just Greek yogurt with grilled pineapple and toasted bagel chips, but I think that the entree and dessert is where I really shined. My entree was supposed to be beef, veggie patty, and gouda ravioli with roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted cauliflower, and sauteed mushrooms, but the ravioli ended up more like a dumpling. For dessert, I toasted the Fruity Pebbles with graham cracker, added some honey, maple syrup, and brown sugar to make a crumble, and topped it with some alcohol-soaked cherries and raspberries that were reduced to a glaze.

I would say that my success came from being over-prepared. I brought with me almost anything one could want from a pantry: salt, pepper, butter, olive and canola oil, flour, sugar, etc., as well as some special spice and herb blends, garlic, rosemary, and soy sauce, just in case. The yogurt really threw me for a loop though, I just wasn't sure what to do with it, and the judges were very critical of that.

It was so much fun pitting my cooking skills against other people though, and waiting on the judges' results was insanely nerve racking. I look forward to next year, though I haven't decided if I want to defend my title or help judge the competitors next year.

My experience in the Dessert tourney, by Lynna "Nova" Foster:

I made Toasted Fluff on a strawberry with drizzled chocolate.  I used a s'more stick to toast the strawberry with the fluff on it. Then I used a cast-iron dutch oven and made my own campfire double boiler. The judges absolutely loved the taste and texture. This is my second year winning the campfire desert competition. 
My experience in the Brewers' tourney by Ethan "Jean-Baptiste" Goldman: 
The unique thing about the Brewers' tourney is that by the time you reach the event site it's already over, it's only a matter of waiting for results. This year I used a Scottish ale I made with my family when we went to one of those Build-A-Brew workshops. Incidentally, Build-A-Brew Workshop is a thriving Gift Store chain in my nation.

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