The pesto contest is one of the most popular events at our annual Pesto Festo. It’s an opportunity for pesto chefs to be creative and show off their culinary skills while pesto enthusiasts get to taste some of East Tennessee’s best of the best.
- Categories are Best Traditional, Most Creative, and People’s Choice.
- Prizes will be awarded to the winners.
- One entry per person per category.
- Please bring one pint minimum of homemade pesto in a container that you do not need returned.
- There is no entry fee.
- Pesto contest entries are due by 6:30 pm. Winners announced by the end of the night!
Judge Guidelines & Scoring
The traditional pesto consists of crushed garlic, basil and European pine nuts, blended with olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano. Originating in Genova, the traditional pesto should be made with Ocimum bacilicum var. ‘Genovese’.
The name is the past participle of Genoese word pesta (Italian: pestare), which means to pound, to crush, in reference to the original method of preparation, with marble mortar and wooden pestle. However, the ingredients in a traditionally made pesto are not “pounded” but “ground” with a circular motion of the pestle in the mortar.
Traditional pesto entries will be judged on: trueness to type, good flavor, color and texture. Each of these categories is worth 5 points.
A. Trueness to type: Is the pesto “classic”? Is it made with ‘Genovese’ or sweet basil? Is there evidence of pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and parmesan cheese? SCORE:_____ of 5 pts
B. Trueness to type: Is the pesto “classic”? Is it made with ‘Genovese’ or sweet basil? Is there evidence of pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and parmesan cheese? SCORE:_____ of 5 pts
C. Flavor: If the pesto was created from fresh, high quality ingredients, the flavors of all components should be apparent in smell and taste. SCORE:_____ of 5 pts
D. Color: Pesto can be varying shades of green depending on how it was pounded/ground, the quality of the basil, and the olive oil used. The color should be enticing and attractive. SCORE:_____ of 5 pts
E. Texture: Done traditionally, the pesto should be hand-ground. It should be smooth, however, you should be able to distinguish bits of nuts and cheese. If it is pureed using a blender, it will not have this texture. SCORE:_____ of 5 pts.
Simple, classic pesto recipes can be tweaked for a more unique product. Creative pestos may be made with any edible green and a variety of different cheeses, nuts and spices can be used. However, pesto is nearly always made in an olive oil base.
Creative pesto will be judged on uniqueness, flavor, color and texture. Each of these categories is worth 5 points.
A. Uniqueness: Does the pesto recipe show imagination, ingenuity, and/or have a special “theme”? Does it make sense? SCORE:_____ of 5 pts
B. Flavor: Does the creative pesto have good flavor? Do the ingredients work well together? SCORE:_____ of 5 pts
C. Color: Is the color enticing and attractive? SCORE:_____ of 5 pts
D. Texture: Is the texture appealing? Is it too thick? Creamy? Chunky? SCORE:_____of 5 pts