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Garlic Cookies Take the Prize at the Gilroy Garlic Festival

Garlic Cookies Take the Prize at the Gilroy Garlic Festival

Jackie Burrell | Contra Costa Times, Walnut Creek, Calif.

What do 10 tons of beef, four tons of calamari and two tons of fresh garlic have in common? They were the featured attractions at last weekend’s Gilroy Garlic Festival, a three-day extravaganza of garlic-infused food, arts and crafts, live music and cooking demos.

Set against the backdrop of Christmas Hill Park, this year’s garlic gala drew more than 108,000 spectators for such attractions as Sunday’s Garlic Showdown, an Iron Chef-style contest emceed by Fabio Viviani of “Top Chef” fame. The secret ingredient? Tomatoes – and garlic, of course.

Several “Top Chef” contestants went head-to-head with other local chefs in the celebrity cooking challenge, with San Francisco private chef Ryan Scott besting Absinthe Brasserie & Bar executive chef Jamie Lauren.

When the dust had cleared, Ryan’s four-course combination of homemade hand-torn pasta with baby tomatoes and tomato broth and black garlic-encrusted beef tenderloin, tomato succotash, and a watermelon tomato salad reigned supreme.

Amateur cooks vied for the garlic crown in one of the nation’s more unusual recipe contests, which drew entries from as far away as Oklahoma and Indiana. Recipes had to include at least six cloves of garlic – many contained much more.

And the recipe contest winner? Winnetka home cook Andrew Barth, whose recipe for Spicy Garlic Butter Cookies with Garlic Goat Cheese and Honey works as either a starter or a dessert.

“It was so

unusual," says Carmel chef and garlic judge Wendy Brodie. “It hit all the taste categories – spicy, creamy, crunchy, savory. It just kind of popped.”

Besides bragging rights, Barth’s prize included a $1,000 check and a garlic crown.

For more information on the 2009 festivities and recipes from last year’s event as well, visit http://gilroygarlic

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Copyright © 2009, Contra Costa Times, Walnut Creek, Calif.

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