Sweatin’ to be 2013 Garlic Chef

Who will be the next Delray Beach Garlic Chef?  That’s the question that kept a good crowd of us watching and waiting at “Garlic Chef Stadium,” a large tent at the 2013 Delray Beach Garlic Festival.  The occasion was the Garlic Chef competition, Delray’s version of a Food-Network-style contest featuring chefs from popular local restaurants competing for the coveted title of 2013 Garlic Chef. This year the festival organizers decided to open the contest to Delray chefs only, to keep it down-home.  This town has no shortage of quality restaurants.  The Downtown Delray Beach web site lists 111 of them, in just the downtown vicinity.  The contest did have a fun, down-home feel.  While the chefs and their teams were working hard in the (hot) stadium kitchen, the atmosphere was casual, jovial, and even playful.  Emcee Executive Chef Michael Giletto, an import from NJ & California (he commutes coast to coast), kept the spirit light with his ongoing reports from the kitchen and give-and-take with the audience. It was nice to watch an intense competition in a casual, friendly setting.  The fact that the chefs and judges know and like each other ensured that they wouldn’t take the rivalry too seriously.  I enjoyed being able to walk around at will, taking close-up photos of the chefs and their creations, meeting the judges, chatting with audience members, volunteers, and the official photographers.  One person I spoke with, a chef from another restaurant who came to root for one of the contestants, told me that many of the chefs and restaurants have loyal followers (a good many of whom were in the audience cheering for their favorite chef),...