Fizz Friday: Gloria Ferrer “Glorious Bites” Appetizer Challenge reacap


Hello, my bubbly loving peeps!

If you’ve been keeping up with me the last couple of weeks the you know I was selected as one of six regional semi-finalist for the Gloria Ferrer Winery “Glorious Bites” Appetizer Challenge. The event was held in Austin, Texas 2 weeks ago and it was truly a wonderful experience!

Here are all six of the semi-finalist recipes and their respective creators:

Bacon Gremolata Scallop Spoons– Kadija Bridgewater

Seared Scallops in Lemon and Thyme Brown Butter Sauce with Crispy Potatoes, Heirloom Tomatoes and Avocado–Mike Hultquist

Miso-Maple Glazed Cod Wonton-Chos with Crispy Bok Choy– Chera Little

Bubbly Manchego Funnel Cakes with Charred Onion, Marscapone, Jamon, and Blackberry Jalapeno Mostarda– Leah Lyon

Spicy Cheese & Quackers (Goat Cheese and Duck Liver Mousse Crostini with Figs and Fizzy Aguachile)–Davon Hatchett (that’s me!)

Shrimp, Zucchini and Corn Fritters with Spicy Tomato Jam, Lime Crema, and Crispy Proscuito Chip– Mary Souchek

I didn’t win the regional event {but I still did well in my estimation–2nd place!} so no trip to Napa for me to participate the final round {at least not this time}but I’m really proud of my efforts and am even more inspired to continue to created on the culinary front.

I had not 1 but 2 judges to approach me to tell me how spectacular my food was and that the flavor combination I created was “perfect and amazing.” They both highly complemented my wine and food pairing ability too. For me the experience ultimately was confirmation for a creative project I have been contemplating undertaking for quite a while now, and the competition was exactly what God knew I needed to push me forward.

As for the competition itself, it was definitely a challenge but it was the kind that makes you a better person in some way. We were working in a smaller kitchen, so not only did we have to compete in two heats of three competitors each, but we also had to share one double oven and 6 gas burners, too! That meant flexibility, adaptability, and compromise on the fly were required, and I definitely honed my skills in those departments.

The overall lesson: if you don’t know exactly what to expect, then expect–and be ready–for anything! Yep, be ready for anything, like burning some of your ingredients and having to start over.

You read that right.

I actually burned my 1st batch of hazelnuts. The over was weird and I wasn’t used to working it, so when I took it off broil {that’s where the previous contestant had it}, set it to bake; and pushed “start” I thought I was good. NOPE! Because I didn’t push “top” since it was a double oven, it just reverted back to broil. Fortunately, I’d had the foresight to buy more ingredients than I needed, so I was able to quickly recover with my extra stash of nuts.

The overall lesson: Have more than you need; listen when your intuition tells you to reserve some of the extra you have for an emergency; and learn as much has you can about your equipment ahead of time as possible.

Hmm, kinda a pretty good analogy for life, yes? But I digress.

The Gloria Ferrer team was awesome as well. They were all very warm and welcoming, which was much appreciated since the nervous energy was building in the room. T make things even better, we got to partake of their bubbly and wine before the competition. Can you say hospitality? {wink}

Furthermore, all of the contestants were really cool people which made the friendly camaraderie far outweigh any competitiveness during the event.While I admit I had a brief moment of “I’m must be crazy trying to do this” {ha} I was so pleased with this experience overall and Gloria Ferrer should be commended for their fabulous efforts.

So want to see what it’s like to participate in a cooking contest? Well check out my photo recap of the event with all the behind-the-scenes action to see for yourself–and I promise to post the recipe for my dish soon!


The Sustainable Food Center in Austin, TX–the scene of the action


The Judges table


Pre-contest credentials


I’m official!


A little pre-contest tipple never hurt anyone…


6 semi-finalist, all in a row…


Looking quite calm, but just took these hazelnuts out of the oven…after BURNING the 1st batch! Working very hard to create a “happy plate” of my own.


Slicing up my fresh, juicy, sweet figs. Look at that fab knife work {wink}.


Kadija and Chera, the other two contestants in my heat, making magic of their own.


A la “Chopped” we only had 30 minutes to prepare our dishes and a huge timer to remind us.


Slicing jalapenos for the spicy component of my dish.


The beginnings of my Fizzy Aguachile.


Who needs a food processor? I’m using a mortar and pestle for my Aguachile…cause that’s how I roll.


In the heat of preparations and using Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut for Fizzy Aguachile.


Look at my perfectly golden brown, duck fat toasted crostini. Beautiful, yes?


Adding my goat cheese and duck liver to the crostini–all while watching that ever ticking time clock!


The luscious finished product, finished with a sprinkling of chopped toasted hazelnuts for crunch.


Telling the judges about my dish–and entertaining the crowd, too. Somebody give me a television show!


Chera’s dish on the left and mine in the center, paired with the Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut.


My moment of victory…


Such a fun event overall. I’ll be back again next year, Gloria Ferrer!