When I volunteered for the North Market Apron Gala Mary told me that I would be assigned the role of ‘Apron Fairy’. She assured me that it would be fun. All I had to do , she informed me, was hand out stickers to the best aprons, oh, and wear a set of wings. Dressing up is not my forte. Halloween costumes fill me with dread and the last time I appeared in public as a fairy was in the 1970s (see exhibit A). But, I love the North Market and if supporting the market meant wearing wings, so be it.
As a not-for-profit organization, the apron gala is an important annual fundraising event for the North Market. It’s a big event and the fierce competition between the vendors ensures that there is a fantastic spread of food. At the last minute I was asked to be a food judge as well. [I’m learning (a little slowly perhaps) that one shouldn’t always say yes to these requests] Of course, I said, I’ll be walking around anyway, I can handle both.
It was harder than I expected: crowded market, sticking-out-wings, trying to juggle a camera, pen, list of foods, stickers, plate, fork, glass as well as trying to make sure I didn’t miss any of the best aprons and that I tasted all of the food (there was A LOT of food) in time for the winners to be announced.
Despite the ‘pressures’ of being the apron fairy and a food judge, the gala was fun. I saw a lot of friends, ate wonderful food and enjoyed working with my fellow judges Walker Evans (Columbus Underground) and Brian Wilson (Senior Development Chef at Bob Evans). Sadly I didn’t have time to watch any of the Edible Columbus cooking demonstrations, but I did try one of Tricia’s appetizers radishes with butter on bread.
As apron fairy I picked 12 of the best aprons that I saw during the evening. I tried to select the people who had made their own aprons, or obviously put a lot of thought and effort into their aprons. The winner was chosen by audience applause. The winning aprons were the ‘spill baby spill’ couple, who received loud cheers for their topical BP themed aprons.
At the same time I was apron spotting I was also trying to make sure that I tried all of the appetizers, main tastes and desserts. The appetizer course was the mostly hotly contested and the judges deliberations were lengthy. The winner was the Candy’s shacks panko crusted deep fried shrimp with mole sauce and orange. Other strong contenders included the Omega crawfish bread, Taste of Belgium waffle with buffalo mozzarella and Hania’s mielone (chicken croquettes with a cheesy center).
The winning main taste was the buffalo and foie gras slider with duck fat fries from North Market Poultry and Game. It is the one dish that people have not stopped talking about since the event. Mine looks somewhat squashed. That may or may not be because I had to snatch it out from under someone’s approaching hand. Pretty – no, a deserving winner – Yes.
For a much better picture of the winning slider I refer you to Columbus Foodie. Becke was also gracious enough to give me her Pure Imagination Chocolatier dessert (below) as there were none left for me to judge. Unlike other food judging competitions, the judges don’t get a preview or have samples set aside, so I was lining up for waffles and chocolate cups just like everyone else. The winning dessert was the bananas foster from Omega, and the winning display was the Greener Grocer, neither of which, sadly, I have pictures of.
This was the 14th annual apron gala. Its a great event for a special place. If you value the North Market and want a chance to try foods from all of the vendors, enjoy an open bar and have fun with friends I encourage you to plan on attending the 15th apron gala next year. I’ll be there, with or without wings.