For the past 35 years, the Gilroy Garlic Festival has been one of the most popular events in California for those looking to add some flavor to their summer. From gourmet garlic cuisine and garlic ice cream to the Miss Gilroy Garlic contest, the festival lives up to the city’s nickname as the “Garlic Capital of the World.” However, this year, the lineup is a little different. The festival will be holding its inaugural intercollegiate Garlic Bowl featuring Fresno State, San Jose State, and UC Berkeley.
“The committee in charge was looking for something new to add for the festival’s 35th anniversary,” said the festival’s media relations coordinator, Peter Ciccarelli. “They came up with the concept of inviting three schools and, to my knowledge, Cal is one of the major Bay Area institutions, so it was an easy invitation to extend.” (Note: Stanford was invited, but it “didn’t work out,” according to Ciccarelli.)
Cal Dining’s director of culinary and catering operations Ida Shen and Cafe 3’s executive chef, Mary Ferrer, are the two cooks representing Berkeley in this grueling contest on Friday, July 26. The rules are as follows: Two chefs enter, two dishes shall be made and six cloves of garlic must be included in both of the plates.
Ferrer and Shen, both graduates of the California Culinary Academy, plan on making both a savory dish—halibut covered in toum, a Levantine sauce—and a garlic-infused cream puff. (Neither chef was available for comment at this time, presumably being too busy with preparations.) All three teams will have one hour to cook, with the winner gaining $5,000 in scholarship funds for the school they represent.
No matter who wins, though, the entire Berkeley community will benefit from the festival. This year, faculty and students can get a 20 percent discount on tickets to the weekend-long event. Just use the promo code “Bears” and you’re ready to enjoy a treasure trove of cloves.