Last weekend the Tandem Tasters were honored to be judges for “The Taste of Fallbrook.”

Peoples’ Choice Winners were:

2nd: Trupianos (Eggplant layered with marinated artichoke hearts, spinach, ricotta cheese, topped with fresh tomato, white balsamic & basil sauce)


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3rd: La Caseta (Sauteed chicken breast, deglazed in white wine, wiht a light chili, herb & cream sauce.)

Tandem Tasters picked:

Best: Chalet Liquor & Deli (Chicken salad sandwich with lettuce & tomato on whole grain bread with potato salad)

Honorable Mention: Lace Apron & Bakery (Dark chocolate mousse cake)

A high school student wrote and asked how we determined the winners. It made us think others might be interested in this topic.


The Taste of Fallbrook was very well organized, but extremely difficult to judge. Usually, there are categories such as appetizers, entrees and desserts and a “Best of” for each category. More people win that way, but it comes out with better results and we’ve suggested it for next year as well as letting the participants know how they are being judged.
When you have professional judges, they usually judge for the following: Flavor/tastes, presentation and creativity for events such as “Tastes of.” We are not saying this is true for every tasting event–but some type of similar criteria exists and is used.When you judge heavier competition, one gets into much more.
Because we could only judge one Professional Choice Award and Honorable Mention Award, it was complicated.
Flavor/taste accounted for 60%, Presentation 20% and Creativity 20% and our judging sheet did not have the names of any of the participants (only numbers), so we did not know who we were judging and had no pre-judged thoughts.
There were MANY extremely good dishes. Each of us gave each dish a score in each area. After we tasted and scored, we then discussed what we liked about the dish or what we felt could be improved and then added the points together.
It may be best if we explain why Chalet won. Most everyone presented on paper plates, but Chalet had their quarter sandwich on a pink doily over the paper plate so it looked appealing. The bread (a 9 or 12 grain) was fresh. The lettuce on the bottom was fresh and crunchy. The chicken salad had great flavor and the fresh tomatoes on top of the salad were tasty and also prevented the chicken salad from soaking into the bread. The potato salad was tasty without too much mayonnaise, nice seasoning and a fresh piece of cilantro on top to add color. It tasted good, looked good and was a creative approach to an ordinary dish.
Lace Apron was another surprise. The presentation and creativity were exceptional and the attention to detail outstanding. The inside of the cake had a different twist with chocolate mousse separated by crunchy filling, cream filling and lighter cake filling and more crunch. The icing was perfect.
We were as surprised by the outcome as many others. I rarely eat sandwiches or potato salad and would not order chocolate mousse cake. Brenda rarely eats desserts except when we are judging.
When judging, one has to have criteria and stay impartial. It is quite difficult and that is why we did not know who did what. There were other contestants that came close. But our two picks clearly had the highest scores. If you asked us if there were other dishes we’d order on a menu, there were several we know we’d order and sit down and enjoy.
The Taste of Fallbrook is an wonderful event to experience the variety of venues and dishes offered locally. It is run exceptionally well and strives to improve every year. Having non-local professional judges was a new addition this year which will make next year even better.

Award photos by: J. Mark Zier of JM Publishing 951 693-2401
Cake photo by: Maralyn D. Hill

Maralyn D. Hill and Brenda C. Hill
International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association
Books By Hills Success Log Global Log

Finalist in the Writing and Publishing category of the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, “$uccess, Your Path to a Successful Book”