Held on the Second Saturday of July for the last 14 years, Taste of Cambridge is a culinary competition that showcases local restaurants and the Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab. This year’s Judges Panel includes three culinary judges who perform a blind taste test of each dish across five categories and announce the winner for each category at the event. This year’s judges are John Shields, Kevin Scott, and Mary Kiernan.
Chef, author and television personality John Shields is the owner of the celebrated Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art. John is often called “The Culinary Ambassador of the Chesapeake Bay,” and he has written four popular cookbooks on the cuisine of the region. The 25th Anniversary Edition of Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields, released by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2015, was a reunion of 25 years of popular classic dishes. Just released last autumn by JHU Press is The New Chesapeake Kitchen – an urgent call to embrace new growing, producing, eating and cooking practices that are “Healthy for Bay and Body.” During his appearances, and in his writings, John expresses his passionate convictions about healthy eating and the importance of supporting the growers, producers and food artisans of one’s region.
Mary Kiernan is employed by Syracuse University as an Associate Teaching Professor in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Onondaga Community College. Her core courses are Quantity Food Services, Safety and Sanitation, Farm to Fork, Cost Control, Food Enterprises, and Menu Planning and Equipment Purchasing. Prior to her career in education, Chef Kiernan owned and operated Elm Street Café and Catering in Cortland, New York in the 1990s. From 2000 to 2007, she worked as catering manager of the Carrier Dome, a 48,000 seat-sporting complex. Her education began at the Culinary Institute of America with an AOS in Culinary Arts, followed by a BS in Hospitality Management from Florida International University and, finally, an MBA from Syracuse University.
Kevin Scott, a Hurlock native and a food industry “lifer,” presently serves as Vice President, National Account Sales, Northeastern US, to The Steritech Group, the leading food safety and operational excellence consulting firm to restaurants and food-related retail operators. His diverse background includes growing up in a farm family, working both the “front and back of the house” in restaurants (helping open/grow Spicer’s Seafood Carryout), successfully developing international sales departments for leading food producers (Pierce Foods, ConAgra Foods and Perdue Farms), and running global logistics operations supporting both commercial and governmental food service entities. For two years, he served as Senior Manager, US Operations, US Military Prime Vendor to Iraqi Freedom, providing food to US and Coalition Forces in Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar and Afghanistan. He oversaw the supply chain moving 1,000 loads of food per month that ultimately fed 200,000+ warfighters and support personnel. He most recently was a National Account Manager for the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe program.
The public can also be judges. Taste, compare, and vote for favorite dishes and a People’s Choice winner will be selected. Restaurants vie for votes when attendees purchase a Ticket to Taste. Tickets are on sale now for $30 at www.downtowncambridge.org through July 8. Day of tickets are also available for $35, but generally sell out quickly.
The event also hosts a Kid’s Zone sponsored by Coastal Hospice, which includes Carlos the Juggler, face painting, crafts and activities for kids. Competitions for kids include watermelon eating and hula hoop contests. Kids can sign up the day of the event.