Sunday morning, 20 corn dishes, from corn ice cream to corn pralines, were set on the judges' table. And a distinguished panel it was: chef Joey Altman, host of KRON 4's Bay Cafe; Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor; Vice Mayor Bob Brockman; U.S. Congressman Jerry McNerney; Assemblyman Guy Houston; Brentwood City Councilmen Chris Becnel and Brandon Richey; Brentwood Chamber of Commerce President-Elect Kathi Reed; Pat and Ron Reagan of Reagan Management; Barbara Guise; Chamber Director and CornFest Vendor Chairperson De-De Hays; and Beverley Jefferson-Daste of Gran'ma Lil's Ol' Fashioned Sweet Potato Pies.
Each judge was instructed to sample each recipe just once. But judge Pat Reagan was caught chowing down a third helping of the Sweet Praline Corn dish. When busted for replating, she simply explained, "I am cleaning my palate for the next dish."
Congressman Jerry McNerney, who wouldn't admit that there was anything corny going on in Congress these days, did admit he skipped breakfast to make room for his judging duties: "I came here hungry but now I'm full. I had to elbow my way around and I found a solid dish I think will win: the Sweet Praline Corn. I have a strong sweet tooth; it wasn't fair!"
Debbie Nicosia of Brentwood won over the judges by taking first place with her Sweet Praline Corn dish. She took home a case of Brentwood sweet corn, a CornFest cookbook, and $200. "I've only lived in Brentwood a little over a year now and heard about this contest at last year's CornFest," said Nicosia. "I love to cook and watch the Food Network channel all the time."
Second place went to the Sweet Rice with Corn and Raisins dish created by Wanda Torres of Brentwood and third place went to Sweet Chai Corn Gelato made by Arlene Cerda of Antioch.
Michael Galloway's Corn Ice Cream didn't place, but he did have a joke to share: "What did the young popcorn kernel brag to the other kernels? Betcha my Pop's bigger than yours!"
Moderate temperatures encouraged festivalgoers to indulge in hot comestibles - boiled sweet white corn by G&S Farms from young vendors Callun Chis- holm and Chris Finlez. "It's been a constant flow all day," said Callun's mom, Aileen.
Heather Schubert and her two sons Jarred and Arron offered a sweet savings by selling four ears of corn for just a buck, and a box of 48 for $12, to benefit Boy Scout Troop 90 of Brentwood.
They might not strictly count as a vegetable, but jumbo corn dogs smothered in mustard were found in the grip of many festivalgoers.
So until next year … with what vegetable do you throw away the outside, cook the inside, then eat the outside and throw away the inside?