Retiring at the top of his game

The highlight of Thanksgiving for The Carnivore is not that he gets to gather with The Carnivore Family but culinary competition.

The Carnivores have, in the last few years, skipped wearing out Mom and Pop Carnivore’s house in favor of a family resort which hosts an amateur culinary contest.

Last year the Energetic Carnivore Sister-in-Law decided the culinary competition would be a good family activity.

The contest is like most pro contests: Show up, go over the rules, learn what the secret ingredients are that must be used, go away to prepare your entry using anything else you can lay your hands on. Two hours later, show up by the pool-cantina area and watch everyone show off their creations.

The secret ingredients were Log Cabin syrup and coconut.

The Carnivore does not like coconut. He gets that from Mama Carnivore.

The Carnivore brothers set about figuring out what they would create. I was inclined to pitch in, but with a culinary degree and foodservice experience that would be unfair. As I retreated to a bedroom to watch TV, I gave my only advice: Think about your presentation.

The door flew open and The Carnivore said they would be using my secret from-scratch recipe waffles from breakfast. OK, but don’t serve it flat. Back to the kitchen.

They created a waffle with “sails” topped with fruit cooked in the syrup with a little Jack Daniels. It was decorated with whipped cream and sprinkled with coconut. Note: The Carnivore does not travel without heavy whipping cream, half and half and butter.

Other contestants showed up with things like cookies on a tin plate, quick breads and turkey salad sandwiches to present to the judges.

It was a complete ambush. The Carnivores’ “secret ingredient” Jack Daniels helped sway the judges (along with the from scratch waffles) and the “sail” presentation.

They took first place. A nice knife set and cutting board were awarded.

This year, when Mama and Pop Carnivore checked in to the resort they were given a flyer for the culinary contest.

The Carnivore grumbled he was not doing it this year. Nonsense. He had a title to defend. The Energetic Sister in Law may have been in California this year, but the Mellow Sister-in-Law registered The Carnivore Family.

This year’s ingredients were just as challenging: avocadoes and apples. You guessed it: The Carnivore is not a fan of avocado.

But he had a new tool with him that he is quite fond of using, the spiralizer. It turns vegetables into spaghetti. We had zucchinis in the fridge. He spiraled the entire package.

He made a thick sauce of the avocado. I got to be the taster. “Congrats, you have created shallot-infused spicy guacamole.”

The apples were thinly sliced, fried, placed on little toasts and topped with a tomato-basil bruschetta (a leftover from lunch) and drizzled with a caramelized balsamic vinegar he discovered on a trip to Australia with the Oldest Brother Carnivore.

This year’s competition, many of them familiar faces from last year, was stepped up with roasted vegetables and apple topped with shrimp and avocado and spiced with a secret mix from Great Grandmother. There was soup. There were tortillas filed with shrimp , avocado and apple. There were salads. There were jalapeno avocado muffins with an apple glaze.

The Carnivore was sure the highly aromatic shrimp with Great Grandma’s spice mix would win.

Surprise! The judges liked The Carnivore’s creation. He collected another knife set and an emblazoned cutting board.

The Carnivore then announced his retirement.

He’s going out at the top of the game.

Could it be that The Carnivores will spend Thanksgiving at another resort next year?