The crisp night of November 19th, The Food Adventure Crew were preparing their tummys for some of the most incredible sweets in the Dayton area. Your humble Food Adventurers had been invited to use their tastebud expertise to judge a dessert contest at the Carrillon Park /Dayton Heritage Museum’s “Ringing in the Holidays” gala. Five top area chefs were competing for “Most Delightful Dessert” which included two categories, Best Dessert and Best Presentation.
As we entered the museum, we were greeted by Christmas Carolers who lined the entranceway. The wonderful aroma of the food displayed in the lobby was also music to our ears. As we entered the party, we were greeted by the organizers of the event which included local attorneys Nicole Mitchell and Mark Engling. They gave us the VIP treatment! We were given nametags, and asked to mingle among the people, open bar and hors d’oeuvres. If you know us, we gladly participated. Eating among many local socialites and the movers and shakers of Dayton’s society, we enjoyed some incredible appetizers from the caterers, which included Scratch Catering owned by Chef Matt Hayden.
Besides being our first time as celeb taste testers, we had another “first” at this event. We both had our first martini, which was a fantastic Candy Cane Martini, prepared with the holiday spirit in mind. We were chastised in fun by an older gentleman who asked when we were going to drink something more “manly,” so we quickly went back to beer. The Big Ragu was very happy to see that the open bar included Sam Adam’s Winter Lager.
As we made our way to the dessert area we saw our pal Lisa Grigsby from DaytonMostMetro.com and Dayton Dining. She introduced us to fellow judges Amelia Robinson the “smart mouth” from Dayton Daily News, and local TV personality Jim Bucher from WDTN Channel 2. Glancing at the desserts, we noticed some other appetizer areas that we decided to hit before finally getting to the “expert judging.”
Our job, if you will, was to taste 5 premium desserts and rank them 1 through 5. This was like trying to rank your children, as the plates were all amazing.
The first dessert we tried was Culp’s Cafe’s Rustic Hot Chocolate with Chocolate Covered Churro. This was one of our favorites and believe us, all the desserts were top rate! The chef Jose Calzada had some incredible chilli powder spices that gave a unique and addictive twist to the drink. Something simple, a classic that was reinvented.
Dessert number two was the Champagne Chocolate Truffle Tart made by chef Justin Mohler from Olive, an Urban Dive restaurant in Dayton. It was a sinful, rich tasting dessert. This was a favorite of the judges, and we could have eaten the whole tray. Our mouths were definitely in heaven.
The third dessert we tried were Mini Peppermint Cupcakes and Mini Egg Nog Cupcakes from Cake, Hope and Love. Chefs Shannon Teague and Connie McFarren had a beautiful display to match the cupcakes addictive taste. Big Ragu was seen sneaking back for seconds, as they were awesome.
Dessert number four was the Dayton Women’s Club‘s Holiday DuJour which featured a carrot cake. This was one of our favorite presentations, and the delicate, creamy taste of this dessert showed chef Joseph Ragno really knows his stuff. Again the simple classic was taken up a level, and the garnish of a dried apple slice lended to the taste for the eyes as well.
The fifth dessert we ate was a unique twist offered by chef Marcus Montreuil from Amelia’s Bistro. This inventive dessert was called Sugar Plum Fantasy and featured a marshmallow, bacon peanut brittle, and brownie with a “shooter tube” of caramel that you actually squeeze into your mouth. Again superb presentation and taste.
The desserts left us speechless and after the extremely close voting, we had a tie. We conferred with the other judges and finally emerged with the winners. Best Presentation went to the Dayton Women’s Club dessert, and overall Best Dessert was awarded to Olive, an Urban Dive.
In summary, we took something else away from this party besides the sweets. The event was held in the tastefully informative Dayton Heritage Museum at Carrillon Park. Displays included lots of antiques and pictures about Dayton’s business history and more. We even rode the antique Merry Go Round If you have not been to this museum, you have to visit. Your Food Adventurers were as blown away as much by the museum as we were by the desserts.
Finally, Food Adventures would like to thank Carrillon Park and DaytonMostMetro.com for the privilege of being part of this “Ringing in the Holidays” extravaganza. Like the desserts, you are all VERY SWEET !!!
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