April 3, 2012 at 3:15 PM ET
When the Takedowns cooking competition came to Houston this past weekend for the third annual Avocado Takedown, avocadoisseurs of all ages congregated to celebrate the delicious and distinctive fruit.
“Avocados are wicked versatile, because they can be the vehicle or the front-and-center, or you can infuse with them, and create any number of baked goods, desserts, whatever,” raved Matt Timms, the wonderfully wacky creator of the Takedowns. “They're subtle, so you can sneak it in to replace mayonnaise or butter, or hit people with its flavor in guacamoles and salads.”
One of the entries was a rich chocolate pudding that was an incredible 90% avocados, earning an honorable mention from the judges.
There were a number of creative entries using avocados, from cocktails like the Avocolada, consisting of coconut milk, pineapple, juice, mint, avocado and Malibu rum to avocado mint ice cream with bourbon mole candied bacon – which won creator Dan Cutts the third place prize.
One thing was clear: there was some serious avocado love at this event, and we’re not talking about guacamole (in fact, there was no guac in sight).
“They’re just so tasty,” said one cheftestant Amy Ponterella, whose team created a corn flake flax seed chile-crusted fried avocado taco topped with a creamy cilantro slaw. “Throughout my entire pregnancy, I was eating avocadoes with salt and pepper.”
First place went to Michelle Ramsey for her delectable avocado cheesecake with mango whipped cream and lime reduction.
The whole thing just got us excited about the fruit and how truly creative one could be in developing dishes with it. While Timms is clearly a huge fan of avocados, it’s only one of many ingredients which get a chance to be in the spotlight of the Takedowns.
Timms started the Takedowns ten years ago in his Brooklyn living room with what he called a “no rules, kitchen sink, chili cook-off!” The events quickly snowballed and, besides being named one of “40 Big Thinkers Under 40” by Food & Wineand one of Chow.com’s “Chow 13”, Timms and his Takedowns have caught the attention of a myriad of publications. His national tour continues to bring high energy home cook competitions to cities all over the country, one food at a time – from bacon to fondue to ice cream to jerky to curry to salsa to lamb and more!
Timms says his favorite partof the competitions are the cooks themselves. “They're real people with extraordinary cooking skills,” he tells TODAY.com. “And the BEST part is they're not chefs! The oo-la-la culture of celebrity chefs and the latest restaurants is totally perverse, and I prove that at every Takedown. There's no pretense or entitlement among the Takedowners crowd, and they put so much more love and attention into their food.”
This year, Timms will bring Takedowns to big events like Bonnaroo in Nashville and Brooklyn’s Googamooga and he looks forward to someday taking them overseas.
Tell us, are you a fan of avocados? Tell us why!
Avocado recipes from TODAY Food: