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Planning the Beef Stew Bonanza

  1. You guys going taste just the stew or also the rice from each place?
  2. What about including Vietnamese stew which is supa good too?
  3. Who's going to judge?
  4. What criteria you using to rate the stews?
This delayed the planning slightly, but after many days of discussion and debate we came to some decisions to address these questions.

  1. We decided to taste beef stew and rice from each location because that's how you would eat it if you went to the place and ordered it. Most folks wouldn't just eat beef stew by itself. The rice completes the dish and therefore could not be excluded from the judging. We almost decided to cook our own rice and serve all the same rice with each stew, but we decided against this. We figured if they really care about their beef stew, then they'll put effort in to making good rice to go with it.
  2. We didn't include Vietnamese stew because that's a different kind of stew. Still tasty, still stew but just different. We wanted to stick with local style beef stew for this taste off.
  3. We chose judges who were beef stew lovers as they would extensive knowledge of what a good beef stew is. We also included people who didn't care for beef stew because they would be highly critical of each stew. We also included people who were neither lovers or haters of beef stew, but in the middle. We hoped that this would create a panel that was representative of the general population.
  4. We thought of doing criteria like taste, texture and presentation, but thought is might get too complicated. We decided to keep it simple and have the judges give one overall score, then explain their scores in the comments section.

So we moved on in the planning and did the following...

  • Had a server bring the stews out in random order to the judge's. He was blind too and didn't know the identities of the stews and therefore could not influence their ratings. Like he might say, "ooh this one going be good!!!!" if he knew it was from his favorite place.
  • Had the judges serve themselves so they could taste all the parts of the stew that was important to them in determining their score.
  • Had the judges rate each stew on a scale of 0 to 10. 0 being low and 10 being high. We just did an overall score for this taste off along with comments explaining their score.
  • Averaged the scores and ranked them from highest to lowest.

One challenge we faced was that we had to reheat some of the stews cause we couldn't pick up right before the tasting. This didn't seem to matter because some of the top ranked stews were reheated and some of the lower ranked stews were picked up right before the tasting. This may have affected things still yet, so for future taste offs, we try get the food right before the tasting to be fair.