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This dessert judge has a sweet tooth

If your macadamia nut cookie didn’t win best dessert at the Manatee County Fair, I’m sorry.

I could’ve eaten a bagful.

If your chocolate mousse cake didn’t get the purple rosette, I don’t understand.

I loved it.

If your blackberry-and-elderberry jam didn’t win anything, I’m outraged.

I gave it 5’s across the board for appearance, texture and taste.

Truth is, I wrote down a lot of 5’s on the scorecards while judging desserts for the fair’s culinary arts and food category last Saturday.

Me, a judge?

OK, maybe I wasn’t one of the “most qualified judges available” as stated in the official rules.

But I know what I like.

I liked everything, whether it was made by a high school culinary student or somebody’s grandmother in Parrish.

The raw apple cake.

The chocolate peanut butter bar.

The pumpkin cream cheese truffles.


The two judges I sat with, Eva Curry and Vivian Elder, were much more discerning.

Disciplined, too.

They’d take a small bite of the pumpkin chocolate spice cookie, the red velvet cake or toffee bar, put the remainder aside, then write down their scores.

I ate it all.

Including the leftovers they’d offer me.

Count calories?


Scoring was relatively simple.

One or two meant you disliked something extremely or moderately.

I never went there.

Three meant you neither liked nor disliked something.

Four or five, you liked it moderately or extremely.

I gave out a lot of those.

I’m easy to please.

Not so my two colleagues, who have forgotten more about making desserts than I will ever possibly know.

We didn’t always get the same entrees and there was one dessert that made them say, “What is that?”

Uh, oh. Not a good sign.

Then there was another.

“What’s that green stuff?” they said, noting the pie slice’s funky presentation.

Then Eva slid it my way.

“It’s delicious. Want to try it?”

I did. It was good.

So good I ate the whole thing. Bad boy.

I hope it won something and makes someone happy. After more than a dozen desserts, I know I was happy.

Can you say sugar high?

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee Count. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or e-mail him at