The 72nd Carrot Festival finale will close festivities with a tasty treat as the inaugural Wing and Carrot Cook-Off on Feb. 10 in Holt Park will stimulate the appetite and offers home chefs a chance to show off cooking finesse.
Yet it also offers a golden opportunity to bring home the bacon as three prizes for best wings and one for best side dish add a bit of spice to the already sharp competitive spirit of Imperial Valley. The champion wing earns $750, the reserve champion $500, third place $250 and best side dish $250, explained Anita Martinez, chief executive officer of event organizer the Holtville Chamber of Commerce.
“What’s different about the Wing Cook-Off is teams get to keep all the prize earnings and the proceeds from booth sales,” she said. “But all the teams need to prepare a mandatory side dish that has a carrot ingredient.”
She added, “No one has had a wing cook-off before. And this is especially fun considering how well wings go with carrots.”
While up to 12 teams can compete, as of Jan. 28 the chamber had yet to receive any completed entry forms, though four entities had taken out entry forms, Martinez said. She added she was working hard at generating further interest.
Teams will need to provide at least 100 pounds of naked (unseasoned) wings and have the option to purchasing them through the chamber, which can get group pricing from a local vendor that will be passed on to the teams. Teams must purchase wings in 50-pound increments for the discounted rate.
One person from each team is to be designated as the chief cook. Check-in time is 9 a.m. on Feb. 10 and there will be a mandatory cooks meeting at 10 a.m. behind the chamber office. The cook-off will be held from noon until 4 p.m. and judging starts at 1 p.m. Results will be announced at 3:30 p.m.
Wing samples and side dishes will be sold for cash only and may not be given away. Wings will be sold to the public three wings for $2. All teams must comply with this cost. Prices of the side dish can be set by the individual teams.
For the competition contestants must submit at least 12 wings and four small portions of the side dish, enough for four judges, to the judging area inside the Holtville Civic Center. Judges will be representatives from the sponsors San Diego County Water Authority, Holtville Tribune and Naval Air Facility El Centro.
“The wings will be judged on taste, appearance and tenderness, and the side dish is judged on taste and how well it pairs with the wings, while a garnish is optional,” said Martinez.