I am a huge fan of avocados. I’ve always loved their intense creamy flavor, high nutritional value, and overall versatility. I love eating them in sushi (even though it’s not particularly authentic to Japan); I’ve made avocado ice cream and it’s divine; and I regularly make guacamole at home.
Imagine my excitement when the Painted Burro invited me to come and be a judge at their annual “Guac Off”.
I, along with two other judges, Somerville firefighter (and Burro Churro Challenge winner) Jay McKenzie and Somerville Scout writer and blogger at The Economical Eater, Michelle Lahey, would be solely responsible for picking the ultimate winner of this competitive event.
Here’s how the contest worked.
Earlier, interested competitors had submitted their guacamole recipes to the Painted Burro for consideration. Out of all the entries, the Painted Burro picked twelve finalists to feature in the Guac Off.
These twelves finalists picked up their avocados from the Painted Burro a day before the event. They prepared their masterpieces at home and brought them in on the day of competition.
While the contestants personally prepared their guacamole for the judges, the staff at the Painted Burro helped prepare larger portions of the same recipes for the general public to sample.
The public’s vote would determine the People’s Choice winners, while the judges would determine the ultimate winner.
Aaron Goldman presented his dish called Smoke and Fire. He made a smoky bean dip to go along with his guacamole, which had a kick. A nice touch was his homemade pita chips, which were really good.
Lauren Wentworth presented the Caribbean GiacaMANGO!, which included chunks of chopped mango. The guacamole had an overall sweetness caused by the fruit.
Christina Oliveria made Crispy Pork Belly & Mango Guacamole, which also included chunks of fresh mango but had crispy pork belly, which added a nice salty umami to offset the sweetness of the mango.
Ellen Wong presented Cilantro Lovers with a Twist. Her guacamole included Asian fish sauce as the secret ingredient, which added a subtle umami to the dish without overpowering the fresh avocado flavors. I really enjoyed this one.
Nicole Leavenworth presented “Abuela Irene’s Guacamole“. The presentation for this dish was definitely one of the most unique. A man came out with a tiny little guitar (ukelele perhaps?) and sang us a song that he wrote for the guacamole, which included lyrics revealing the secret ingredient – “dried oregano”. The dried oregano was very pronounced and most certainly defined the dish.
Jay Nungesser presented GuacaMOLE! Verde, which had toasted seeds on top. I really liked the textural contrast as well as the nutty flavor that the seeds added.
Isaac Hendrick presented the Granada Guacamole, which had fresh pomegranate seeds mixed in. I really enjoyed the slightly tart pop that the pomegranate seeds added to the guacamole.
Adam Riegel presented Buffamole!, an avocado mixture topped with a shredded buffalo chicken served with tortillas and carrots. It was a playful take on buffalo wings and had great flavor.
Maya and Andy presented “A-Town’s Great Guac”, which was beautifully presented in an avocado shell, complete with tortilla stars and an umbrella. They pointed out that the stars were edible and most importantly, there was no cilantro, because some people do not like it.
Aditi Pai presented A Smoky Summer Night, which included chopped cantaloupe for a unique, sweeter flavor profile.
Dasha Smirnova presented Dasha’s Dynamite Guamacole. This was by far the spiciest of the entries. It was made from smoked ghost chilies from Dasha’s own backyard. She included a ghost chili in each bowl, but told us it was just for decoration and recommended not eating it.
Lyle Bradley presented the Eastie Special, a classic guacamole that was just downright delicious. It was balanced in flavor, had a nice citrus (lime?) kick, and was one of the few that was perfectly salted. I felt like I could eat this one forever.
It was a hard decision for me. We were supposed to judge them on various aspects, including creativity, presentation, and taste. After repeatedly crossing out numbers and changing things around, I finally reached my decision.
The manager, Alec, averaged all our scores to figure out the final winner.
We had no idea who it would be.
Ellen Wong for her Cilantro Lovers with a Twist and Lyle Bradley for Eastie Special!
I really enjoyed both of their guacamoles and thought that prize was well deserved.
And now . . . the runner up winner of the 2nd Annual Guac Off is Lyle Bradley (again!) for Eastie Special! Clearly this guy’s guacamole was really good.
And then the crowned winner of the Guac Off?
Isaac Hendrick with his Granada Guacamole!
Isaac won $150, bragging rights, as well as the honor of having his guacamole featured on the Painted Burro menu.
I really liked his guacamole because the pomegranate seeds added a lovely, surprisingly zing to the guac that made it strangely addictive.
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