Caesar Salad Martinis, Sliders, Tandoori and More at the 29th Annual Caesar Salad Competition

caesarsalad2013.jpg
Photos by Mai Pham
Et tu, Brutus? Some of the entries from the Food & Beverage Managers Association of Houston's 2013 Caesar Salad Competition.

How many ways can you make a Caesar salad? This past Friday evening, Houstonians were treated to a total of 19 ways at the 29th Annual Caesar Salad Competition, held at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston.

The event, hosted by the Food & Beverage Managers Association of Houston, has become an annual tradition in the Houston food world. For a minimal fee, entrants get to duke it out Caesar salad-style for bragging rights in a blind-taste contest whose proceeds fund scholarships in the culinary arts.

The fact that the judging is blind levels the playing field, ensuring that every entrant is critiqued by the same criteria: look, taste, and either creativity or adherence to classic Caesar style. This year, there were five entrants in the classic category, and 14 entrants in the creative category.

caesarclassicwin.jpg
Photo by Mai Pham
Houston Club's winning entry; students at the Hilton School of Hotel & Restaurant Management.

As one of the judges in the competition, I can say that the strongest differentiating factor in the classic category was taste. Almost all of the entrants looked the same, though there were slight differences in the cut of the salad (big chunks versus small chunks), the viscosity of the dressing, the flavor and crispiness of the croutons, and the way in which the cheese was sprinkled on top.

The winner among the five classic entries, The Houston Club, scored high points for a uniform coating of creamy dressing, coupled with small, easy to eat pieces of chopped romaine lettuce, and a healthy dose of freshly grated cheese.

Location Info

Kiran's Restaurant and Bar

4100 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

University Hilton

4800 Calhoun Road, Houston, TX

Category: General

Houston Club

811 Rusk, Houston, TX

Category: General

La Griglia

2002 W. Gray, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Hilton Americas Houston

1600 Lamar St., Houston, TX

Category: Music

Latin Bites

5709 Woodway Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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12 comments
nedt
nedt

Great pics and glad you covered this Mai! Caesars are fun to make, fun to eat and not bad for your health.


EllieMae
EllieMae

As a kid I thought Caesars were yummy and rather mythic, named after the Roman emperor himself. Then I learned they were invented by a Mexican busboy working in San Diego, and a little of the romance vanished. I still think they're delicicious, but mainly because you can do anything to create them; there are no hard and fast rules with ingredients beyond romaine lettuce. Yeah anchovy, and garlic and mustard powder and maybe capers and lemon and oil. But these overblown competitions and so called creativity really are kinda Betty Crocker stuff to impress the very young, very fembot  or very  "old and infirm", as fiorello points out.

fiorello
fiorello

Two words come to mind when contemplating Caesar Salad: old and infirm.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

@nedt thanks for reading! It's a fun annual tradition and I hear if you are one of the first 10 or so to show up in a toga, you gain entrance for free. :) 

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

@EllieMae Actually, if you'd attended one of these over the years you'd see that it's neither old and infirm or fembot or young.  The reason this competition has enjoyed so much popularity over the years is because just about anyone can compete -- from the smallest mom and pop to the big hotels to the fancy restaurants. Also, though the proceeds don't go to a "charity" per se, all of the proceeds go towards scholarship money for culinary students. It's a fun event all around.

gillian
gillian

@EllieMae  

lol, my grandmother always made us Caesar salads using Belgian endive (ahn-deave, as she called the perky little wankers) with almost an emulsion of the classic formula garlic, anchovy, lemon, mustard and oil. That and chilled avocado soup, not at the same time thank god.

james.brock
james.brock

@fiorello Like Roast Chicken, Tournedos Rossini, and cassoulet, among other classics, a Caesar salad, done well, is anything but old and infirm. (And try Provisions' take on the Caesar if you are in need of young and hip.)

wagglesdorf
wagglesdorf

@Mai Pham @nedt  

I don't think there's any connection to the emperor Julius Caesar as you seem to imply with your comments and photo cap. I think the Caesar comes from a nickname of the Mexican gent who popularized the salad.

FileneSw8
FileneSw8

@gillian @EllieMae  

Trips to my grandma's house was never complete without her Ceasar!

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

@james.brock @fiorello You'd be surprised with the creativity that these chefs bring to the table every year. We had Caesar Salad cotton candy two years ago and the news made NPR. Not the least bit old and infirm.

Billiejean
Billiejean

@taylor134 @Mai Pham 

I know, I've always seen the same lame comment directed toward the readers of My Table. Not that I know any readers of My Table to judge, but it seems rude.

taylor134
taylor134

@Mai Pham The "old and infirm" comment always comes from the same person but on different Houston-based websites. I'm beginning to think they have a problem with themselves in the "old and infirm" department, and it is leading to projection and obsession. There is a medication for that... :P

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