Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Dates are great!

The California Date Commission has announced the dates for this year's Date Chef Competition. Each year, in April, the commission holds a chef competition for professional chefs. If you are a culinary professional you can enter this contest and compete for $5000 in awards. The problem is that I rarely see entries from anyone outside SoCal. Occasionally someone like Dean Frangopoulos, from New York will enter and win! Palm Springs, er, La Quinta in April? I think I'd like to be there!

The rules for entering are here. Simply stated, you submit a recipe for the competition featuring dates. The categories are dessert, entree or appetizer. If you decide to compete, you must submit their entry form and a color picture of your entry. If you are chosen as a finalist you win $100. Then you will be invited to compete for the people's choice award, which is held in conjunction with a gala, where you will cook your entry for the public. The afternoon event is fun and a great way to showcase your talent. The only other requirement is that if you are chosen a winner, you must feature your recipe at your place of business for 30 days.

I say go for it! Dates are so versatile, The French Laundry features dates as part of their menu. Can you compete with Thomas Keller? Of course you can because he uses Medjools. They're not eligible for the competition. You must use California dates including Deglet Noor, Zahidis, Halawys or Khadrawis. Let's get cooking!

Credit for picture: This was last year's winner Carolina Sanchez', "A Date Tasting" entry, photographed by Arthur Coleman.