Mike discovers it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there for guest judges
It appears that I am now the go-to guy when it comes to fennel and dogs in tutus.
That’s right, twice last week I was asked to pass judgment on both. And I don’t even know what one of them is.
F o r t u n a t e l y, I have friends who realize I like to have fun, especially if eating and JRRfinJ DURunG DUH LnYROYHG.
My friend Marge Jacoby of Brandywine Senior Living at Dresher Estates kicked the week off by asking me to be a judge at the “Iron Chef: Best of the Best at Brandywine” cook-off at Dresher Estates.
Chefs at all the Brandywine senior living facilities in the area were to square off in head-to-head cooking competitions, with the winning chef’s recipe to be featured in the organization’s end-of-the-year cookbook.
Chef Issiah of Dresher Estates in Dresher was to take on Chef Daniel from Senior Suites in East Norriton and I was among the judges, a distinguished panel I might add that had every intention of taking it more seriously than I had planned to. Hey, if I’m judging food, then I’m there to eat.
In fact, one of the other judges was actually a chef himself, and he even wRUH KLV RIfiFLDO FKHI’V wKLWH FRDW to the competition, which made him ORRN YHUy RIfiFLDO DnG PRUH TuDOLfiHG than me.
While sizing up the other judges during the pregame festivities — which included cheering sections of seniors, some armed with cowbells — I determined that The Real Chef planned to ask more pertinent questions than what I had planned, among which was, “Are those authentic Ginzu knives you guys are using?”
Once the competition started, the two chefs were given 45 minutes to prepare a dish that had to include the following items: chicken breast, Brussels sprouts, coconut milk and fennel.
Fennel? What in tarnation is fennel? I’ve done a lot of eating in my life and I’ve never heard of fennel. Fortunately, The Blonde Accountant knows her way around the kitchen, so I hurried and texted her for an answer.
Me: “What’s fennel?” I typed into the cellphone. TBA: “Herb.” Me: “Herb who?” (See, I never miss an opportunity to go for the cheap laugh, even in my text messages.)
Fennel (Latin name: Foeniculum vulgare; Mike’s Made Up Latin Name for It: Bigyuckinus Nothankyouius) is indeed a “highly aromatLF DnG flDYRUIuO KHUE wLWK FuOLnDUy and medicinal purposes,” according to the InterWebs.
It did not look or sound very appetizing at all and I had every intention of not offending my pizza-andcheeseburger-sensitive palate by tasting any part of the meal that had touched the fennel.
But everything was good (Senior Suites defeated Dresher Estates), the chefs were masterful and the seniors were enthusiastic with their cheering, although I think the person who thought it was a good idea to give cowbells to a bunch of rowdy seniors cheering for fennel should seriously rethink that decision prior to the next cook-off.
The next event at where it appeared that my opinion actually mattered came a few days later at Warminster Community Park during the 14th annual “Paws 4 Life Dog Walk” in support of Gilda’s Club Delaware Valley, the local chapter of Gilda’s Club, which was founded in memory of the late Saturday Night Live star Gilda Radner, who believed nobody should go through cancer alone before succumbing herself to the disease at age 43.
My pal Craig Peters is on the organization’s board and asked me to judge the doggie contests, which included “Best Costume,” “Longest Ears,” “Longest Tail,” “Best Owner Lookalike” and “Sloppiest Kisser,” among others.
The only qualification I needed to be a judge in this competition was that I once owned a dog. And I was relieved to find out that the “Sloppiest Kisser” portion of the contest did not require the dogs to give sloppy kisses to the judges but to their owners.
Of course, food was also included in this event, and even though I was not asked to judge the eats, I did give high marks to the two hotdogs with sauer- kraut and mustard that I had for brunch, followed immediately by the chocolate cream-filled donut that I had for dessert. There’s nothing quite like sauerkraut and donuts at 10:30 a.m.
The wise decision that the Gilda’s Club folks made not to serve fennel to the dog contest judges was surpassed only by the group’s equally-wise decision not to give the dog owners cowbells to shake in my ear during the competition.
The event was well-organized and lots of fun and was for a good cause. In addition, I love dogs, so I scratched a lot of ears during the festivities.
Of course, I could not in good conscience support any dog that was wearing a tutu in any of the categories because I think it’s a safe bet that even the girl dogs think tutus look pretty silly on all dogs. Look into the face of any dog wearing a tutu and tell me the dog is on board with that fashion statement. You put a tutu on a dog in a contest that I’m judging and I’m automatically not voting for that poor pooch.
Now ask your dog to go fetch a SLHFH RI IHnnHO DnG , PLJKW finG WKDW just funny enough to award that canine a blue ribbon.
Mike Morsch is executive editor of Montgomery Media and author of the book, “Dancing in My Underwear: The Soundtrack of My Life.” He can be reached by calling 215-542-0200, ext. 415 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column can also be found at www. montgomerynews.com.