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Killer Tomato Festival Highlights

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© Michael Wall
No early tastings of Gerry Klaskala's winning grilled cheese-tomato sandwiches

Yes, there were thousands of pounds of tomatoes this weekend at Atlanta’s Second Annual Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival. Anyone who—like my 6-year-old-godson Max—thought that meant the world's best tomato-throwing contest was out of luck. (Maybe next year?) Still, there was every other conceivable kind of tomato treatment at this super fun event which had the added benefit of supporting Georgia Organics. Kevin Gillespie of Woodfire Grill and Top Chef fame made tomato ice cream sandwiches. Steven Satterfield of Miller-Union served an elegant tomato aspic. Five Seasons Brewing created a super refreshing Tomato IPA. I got to judge the event! And taste all 26 dishes! Here are the food winners, with a few honorable mentions thrown in. (Tomorrow, we’ll feature the cocktail winners.)

BEST TASTING: Aria’s Grilled Cheese with Roof Top Dried Tomatoes. Gerry Klaskala made stellar grilled cheese sandwiches using great long slices of Pullman bread and cutely-named dried tomatoes.

MOST CREATIVE: JCT Kitchen & Bar’s Killer Tomato Jelly Doughnuts. No, this didn’t sound like a good idea to me, but the doughnuts by chef Ford Fry and his team were perfect and the bacon custard on the side was genius.

BEST BOOTH: Holeman & Finch. F&W Best New Chef 2009 Linton Hopkins’ booth was tomatopalooza, with tomato plants in cages and 100 origami tomatoes hanging on a garland over the table.

(BONUS) MY CREATIVE RUNNER UP #1: Abbatoir’s. Hawaiian Shaved Ice with Tomato Herb Waters. They had a shaved ice machine going, and three kinds of toppings, my favorite being the sweet tomato chile. The finishing splash of Georgia moonshine did not hurt.

Here, 12 more food festivals from around the world, including another tomato celebration (more along the lines of what Max had in mind).

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Run with chefs and wine experts in the Celebrity Chef 5K and dance all night at Gail Simmons’ Last Bite Dessert Party during the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 20-22.