Photo by Jerad Dunnohew
Reviewing the dozens of entries for the BLT From Scratch Challenge, the main emotional response for me was inspiration. You cooks who did this, and entered and the many folks who also posted results on blogs, are truly inspirational, which is what the best food writing and food photography does.
I want to acknowledge everyone personally, but can't possibly do that. Do know that I gave every single entry attention, and Donna did the same for the photographs.
Here are the categories that emerged (there were two vegetarian/vegan entries, not enough for a category, but I found them both impressive in their ingenuity):
Best Over All BLT (for the combination of writing, photography, and finished sandwich)
Best BLT Photograph (self-explanatory)
Best BLT Interpretation (for most interesting use of bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise)
Most Inspirational BLT (because this contest merits a Hollywood ending)
The Winner of the Best Overall BLT From Scratch is Jared Dunnohew, featured above. Jared is an American cook, sous chef at The Paddington Inn, in Sydney, Australia. Ironically, he made a BLT almost from scratch before I wrote about it and did three posts on it, starting here, so he kind of had a head start. Here's his post on his BLT but cooler still, and what put him over the top here, is his photographic flow-chart of his BLT. Awesome work, Jared. This guy harvested his own salt from the ocean! That's a little out of control; he must have a really patient wife. (FYI, he reports 25 liters of ocean water yielded 1 kilo of salt.)
Winner of Best BLT Photograph is Rich Zanteson, of Altadena, California, an engineering technician for an aerospace/engineering company:
This BLT canape was neck and neck with the following award. Part of cooking is making food look really good, food that makes you think, "Oh, man. I want some." I would not hesitate to grab one of these if this plate came by.
There were some great photos, and Donna had a hard time winnowing them down. She discusses this winner and the runners up on her blog.
Winner Best BLT Interpretation, the BLT Pie, by Maybelle's mom, who blogs from Cleveland at feedingmaybelle.
I love making savory pies, so this is an interpretation dear to my heart. Here's Maybelle's complete post on it.
Finally, the a category I was not expecting.
Winner of The Most Inspiring BLT, Emma Kate Smith and her father Walt, from West Virginia. I could write something about how this is what true cooking is all about, but I'll let the emails that accompanied their BLT pix speak. Emma Kate, you're a girl after my bacon-loving heart.
I was excited to read the post about your contest and thought it was a brilliant idea. When I came home from work that day, I told my youngest about it and she wanted to enter herself. Emma Kate has just recently turned 10 years old. She's seen me cure bacon many times but this is the first time she has expressed an interest to be involved. As a celiac, it's important for her to learn both where her food comes from and how it 's prepared. For this reason I decided not to enter. Instead, we used the contest as a learning opportunity for Emma Kate and a bonding opportunity for us both.
She took this entire process very seriously and was, I thought, very creative in her approach. She added ginger to some of the cured bacon (though she didn't want to use it for the sandwich) and it was also her idea to add the lemon thyme to the mayo.
With the exception of the knife work and heating the smoker, Emma Kate created the entire sandwich without help or input from me. It really is so easy a kid could do it!
Emma Kate typed the message below and chose the pictures that are attached.
I had fun making my BLT. First, my dad and me planted a garden in the summer. Then the tomatoes and lettuce sprouted. In September I cured the pork belly with some pink salt and put it in the refrigerator for one week. When it was done curing I put it on the smoker. When it was done my dad cut it on the slicer.
I can't eat gluten, (wheat, barley, rye) so I had to make Gluten-Free bread. First, I mixed some egg yolks into some rice flour with milk and yeast. Then we let it rise and put it in the oven.
I picked the tomatoes and some lettuce that looked like an oak leaf. My dad and I cooked the bacon then he cut some vegetables while I made mayonnaise in a little red mixer. I put lemon thyme in it, it's my favorite herb. I didn't like the mayonnaise but everyone else did.
I made the sandwiches and we had friends over for a dinner party. Everyone said it was the best BLT they ever had.
Thank you for having the contest,
Emma Kate Smith
Congrats to these winners. Please email me your mailing address so I can send you a copy of Ratio (or another of my books if you have Ratio) and so that Susanne can send you one of her cool Hero lunch bags.
Again, thank you everyone for your inspiring cooking! Never stop.