I was asked to keep this under wraps for a while, but now it can be told: I was a judge for Tulkoff’s Seasonal Spotlight Recipe Challenge.
Readers of the Olney Farmers and Artists Market blog will remember that Linda Anselmi, the company chef for Tulkoff Food Products, gave a chef demo at the Market a few months ago. She was accompanied by Tulkoff’s Food Service Sales Director, Karen Suter. Karen contacted me and asked if I would be a judge for their contest, which is open to their customers and encourages creative use of their products. It took me about a microsecond to accept.
We found the Tulkoff factory with a little difficulty. It’s in the Dundalk neighborhood of Baltimore. That’s the working port, not the touristy Inner Harbor, but a neighborhood all the same. There are people who have lived there for generations – blocks of houses built right up to factories, railroad lines, truck routes, and shipping docks.
There’s a spotlessly clean, bright, airy factory full of giant mixers, bottling lines, and storage areas fronted with a set of offices and a beautiful kitchen complete with tasting bar. Unfortunately, before our tour of the factory area we were cautioned that pictures were not allowed, so, dear reader, you will just have to use your imagination as I report that one room held two million pounds of stacked horseradish roots!
Yes, it seems that horseradish loses potency quickly when ground, so Tulkoff stores it in root form and grinds in small batches. Bottled horseradish is one of their retail products; they make many other sauces and seasonings for the hospitality and restaurant trade.
One of these was the subject of the contest: Chipotle Chili Aioli is a piquant mayonnaise-like sauce which can be used to add a little character to many dishes – as we found out! There were ten entries, ranging from Grilled Vegetable Pizza to Chipotle Hawaiian Wings.
We gathered in the kitchen to taste each one. Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen, Chef Linda, Jill Schnoeller of Victoria Gastropub, Karen Suter and I worked our way through a sample of each entry, ably prepared and served by Tulkoff’s staff. Most of the dishes were good, although some were too fussy or obvious. It was hard to single out the best from the top three or four, but I did my duty and marked my ballot.
The winner was Steve Shirley from Paramount Marketing Group, Carolinas for his Chipotle Pulled Pork Sandwich. The recipe is here: http://www.tulkoff.com/recipes/details/chipotle-pulled-pork-sandwich/
Thanks go to the Tulkoff’s employees who cooked and served us: Ruth Bohls, Erin Smiley, Danielle Hauserman, Angela Guss, and Renee Frantzen. They were great!
And to top off the experience, Phil Tulkoff, namesake, scion, and owner of the business, joined us for a group picture. Look closely and you will see the award bestowed upon the winner: The Golden Spoon of Deliciousness!