The Main Event- 3 Days, and Counting

By Keith Fisher

Again we wish to note: The author of this blog has not been compensated for mentioning any products or comercial enterprize.

Three days! Good thing I don’t have to come up with a delectable recipe this year. Today is Sunday. I hope you're planning a backyard party. If not, I hope your itching to get outside and cook something.

Today, we’ll finish our interview with Ranes Carter. As you’ve been reading for the past two days, he is the director of the IDOS World Championship Dutch oven Cook Off. Ranes has been pretty patient with me and he’s anxious to get back to his punch list. After all, if he doesn’t get it done . . . well, we’d better let him get back to it.

Getting right to it and continuing where we left off, I promised we’d talk about what the spectators can expect. So, tell us, Ranes, What can a spectator find at the event? Will non-Dutch oven cooks find information and inspiration? Can they talk to the competitors?

The Dutch Oven cook-off really is a site to see. Watching the cooks prepare those three dishes from scratch, on site, using nothing but charcoal and cast iron in five hours is pretty impressive. That alone is worth the admission fee.

IDOS will have a booth where you can sign up to become a member of IDOS, purchase current and past WCCO recipe books, and purchase other IDOS merchandise. Two of our sponsors, Camp Chef, and Lodge, will have product available for purchase.

The cook-off area is in the Northwest corner of the Sandy, Utah Expo Center. There are bleachers for the audience and spectators to watch all of the action. The cook's are separated from the public by a waist high horizontal bar and fabric screen. This allows the audience a full view of everything the cooks do. Audience interaction is encouraged. Most teams will be more than happy to answer any questions you might have.

In addition to the teams cooking, Colleen Sloan, a Utah local Dutch oven educator and recipe book author, will be heading up a team of demonstrators. The team, made up of Dutch oven enthusiasts, recipe book authors, and some of our sponsors, will be teaching classes in the back corner of the building. The subjects include product demonstrations, Dutch oven basics, knife sharpening, and other skills. There will be a class every hour, on the hour, during the whole event. There won’t be any demos during the cook off judging period.

An addition this year is an interactive demo that will take place after the final announcements on Saturday night. ISE patrons will be given the opportunity to take quick class with Colleen, then move to the cooking pit for some hands-on experience with some of the teams.

It sounds like there is something for everyone, but what if a person gets tired of cooking demos? Are there other things to do?

This Dutch oven cook-off is held in conjunction the International Sportsman's Expo held at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy Utah. Besides the cook-off, the ISE show has an archery area, a fly fishing area, a fishing 'pond' for kids, a dog jump area, and many other items of interest for the whole family. You should be able to find something to do for many hours. If you need a break, feel free to sit in the bleachers and watch the show.

How much is the cost?

Admission to enter the ISE show is $12.00 per adults. Children 15 years old or younger are free. The cook-off is a part of the ISE show and is included with that admission.

Sounds like a big bang for the buck. Since you are the director of this huge event, I bet you’re anxious. What is it like for you? How long is your punch list?

Anxious is an understatement. This event has literally consumed most every waking moment for me... and more than a few dreams.

I think I started working on the 2010 event a few moments after I made the final announcements for the 2009 event. The day after the 2009 event, I started writing notes on what I could have done different, things I could to do to make the event better, things I wish I wouldn't have done, and so on.

I asked many others to offer their opinions on the event and I compiled all of this information so I wouldn't forget. I was very hard on myself for a few months after last year's event. I have spent the last year going over the details of last year's event and what I am doing for this year in order to make this event bigger and better. I really have put my all into this event.

In addition to being the 2009 and 2010 IDOS WCCO chair, I am also the IDOS cook-off liaison. I think these two roles work nicely together in regards to planning the WCCO. By being the cook-off liaison, I try to stay up to date on any Dutch oven cook-off. Because I kept track, I was able to list all of the IDOS sanctioned cook-offs and the winners of those events on the IDOS forums. That meant I knew exactly who had qualified for the 2010 event shortly after they qualified.

Last fall, I contacted these teams letting them know about the registration process for this year's event and some of the details and expectations for this year's event. This is the first year that teams were able to register for the event online. And, the teams were given the option of paying the $50.00 registration fee using Pay Pal. The online part of it has really helped with communication between IDOS and the teams. I feel it made the registration process much quicker and easier for all.

As I said before, the registration deadline was midnight on 31 December. Many of the teams registered the last week of the year and a few registered hours before the deadline. A couple of teams that really wanted to attend missed the deadline and I had to turn them down.

Registration includes recipe submittal via email. Everyone, except last year's champions, had to submit two sets of recipes: a main, bread, and dessert dish for the semi-finals. Also, a main, bread, and dessert dish, for the finals. Last year's champions will defend their title during the Finals and only had to submit one set of recipes. It totals 135 recipes: 45 mains, 45 breads, and 45 desserts.

During the first couple of weeks of January, my wife and I went through every one of the recipes. I transposed them from the original document and put them online. Some of the recipes had to be rewritten for clarity, and some needed to be deciphered completely. Putting the recipes online facilitated team approval of the edits. I’m pretty sure this is the first time we’ve had this much communication.

Once my wife and I finished editing, and all the teams approved the changes, the recipes were turned over to Hyrum Rappleye to be formatted for the recipe book. Hyrum proof read every recipe and found a few mistakes that I missed. I contacted the teams about any issues we had and got them corrected.

When Hyrum finished his work, he sent a PDF copy to the IDOS President, Kent Rappleye, for review and approval. Kent spent another couple of weeks going through each recipe with a fine-tooth comb. Kent found errors that Hyrum and I both missed. I think this process took a lot out of all of us.

The next step was to schedule the food judges, and field judges. Cook's Assistants, and many other helpers. For the 2009 and 2010 WCCO cook-off, all dishes are presented at one time. Each team has five hours to prepare and cook a main dish, bread, and dessert. With 10 teams on Thursday and Friday, and 11 teams on Saturday, there will be 30 to 33 dishes all presented at the same time. Much too many for a few judges, so I scheduled three judges per category.

That equals nine judges per day. Nine judges over three days, is 27 judges. It takes a little time and effort to locate and schedule 27 people to judge, but I feel I have a great line up of judges this year.

There are about 150 people involved with this event that I call the "Cast and Crew". This is made up of cooks, cook's assistants, food judges, field judges, charcoal starters, demos and classes, helpers in the Hospitality Suite, helpers in the IDOS booth, audio / video, photographers, and a few others. That's a lot of scheduling and planning. It is amazing how many people are so willing to help in any way they can. IDOS is made up of a bunch of great people!

So, yes, I am anxious for this event. I really do think about it constantly, and have for many months. It has taken over my life in many ways. Honestly, I’ve put so much time and effort into planning the 2010 event that I had most everything planned a week or so ago.

So, for the last few days, I’ve had the feeling I needed to go-go-go, yet pretty much everything is done, everything is planned. Not having anything to do is really adding to the stress. I know that might sound odd to many, but having things so organized weeks before the event is a little scary. And not having a task to occupy my thoughts causes me to continuously think about everything. Yes, anxious is a gross understatement.

Sounds like you’ll need to take a cruise when it’s over. But as Lucile Ball was fond of saying, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person to do.” You worked miracles last year, I’m sure this year will be even better. You mentioned your “cast and crew" and how much you learned while you helped out. Can anyone volunteer? I’m sure my readers would like to be a judge.

Absolutely, although, it's a little late for the 2010 event. I’ve had all the positions filled for about a week now.

Of course, most everyone who has tried Dutch oven cooking, knows how great the food is. Once these world-class teams present their dishes you can't help but wonder what it takes to be a Food Judge.

Actually, being a Food Judge is much harder than simply enjoying the food. As an example, I'm not a fan of olives. As a Food Judge, I might be required to eat a dish that contains olives. I need to put aside my opinions of olives and attempt to judge every dish equally and fairly. It really is a very difficult job and takes some skill.

The Judges I have scheduled for the 2010 event are made up of professional chefs, culinary educators, and cookbook authors. Past world champions. There are chefs from local restaurants. Some local media, and a few other Dutch Oven enthusiasts.

Having been on the list of food judges, I can testify it is hard. Plus you need a thick skin against hurt feelings.

Thank You, Ranes. You’ve given my readers a lot to think about. I hope they will take your suggestions and experiences and apply it to their backyard and camp cooking experiences. Don’t be afraid to compete. If you don’t take first place, so what? At least you’ve had fun.

Tomorrow, we’ll interview Terry Lewis, He's a 1996, and 2009 world champion and he's coming back this year to defend his title. This series will lead up to the MAIN EVENT. Plan now to be there for all or any part, of the cook off. I think you’ll enjoy yourself. If you missed the links you can find information at these links.




L.T. Elliot said...

That's a lot of work to prepare something this big. I'm sure all of your (and your wife's!) hard work will pay off in spades!

Ted said...

I like the YOUNG Ranes Picture!