With every program we run, we are amazed at how difficult judging the entries can be. However, I have to say, ‘Passport & Plate: ITALY’ truly takes the cake (pun intended). As this program was not based on a very specific talent (like writing, film or photography), we had many extra factors to consider when evaluating each entry.

Now, before you start leaving comments...

Here is how the judging was broken down

First, you had to have a great story behind your recipe – a tale that would transport the reader to a new place through food. Many of you had excellent recipes, but the story didn’t carry its weight. One thing we can say is that grandmas the world over are singlehandedly carrying on global food traditions. For them, and the amazing locals that have shared their recipes with travellers, we are all indebted.

Now, you couldn’t just be a great storyteller, your personal essay had to convince us that you were the right person to fulfill the food explorer role you were applying for (and not just that you love to eat and are keen to travel to Italy, because aren’t we all?). The entries were judged in 3 separate batches, so you were only judged against applicants in your chosen category.

Finally, we looked at your recipe. Was it original or did we see 7 other similar recipes? Did it intrigue us, make us hungry, nostalgic or want to try it at our next dinner party?

The last few weeks have been incredibly difficult deciding on the 3 winners. As you can see by our (very long) short list, we had trouble even culling down the entries.

We are pleased to announce the winners of our very first ‘Passport & Plate’ program!

The Anthropologist: Sofia Levin

Farmhouse Fig & Chèvre Tart + Blackberry Balsamic (France)

Judge's comments:

Sofia took us out of the office and into the kitchen of a French farmhouse in a few short paragraphs – and it smelled so good! Her tart recipe is a ritual, a link to happy family reunions and lazy Provencal summers. Coming from a country with such a young food culture, how will Italy's steep tradition compare to Australia’s? With a background in journalism and psychology, and a job that keeps her eating for a living, we know that Sofia will find her way into the Italian community - and may just adopt an Italian nonna too.

UPDATE! Read Sofia's blog from her assignment in Langhe e Roero as our Anthrolpologist.

The Culinarian: Tri Phan

Cá cơm kho khô, Sticky Claypot Whitebait (Vietnam)

Judge's comments:

Tri is the former picky eater turned aspiring chef. We love that one ingredient was able to so vividly transport him to the Mekong Delta. His relationship with food and his family is so intrinsically linked, demonstrated by his adaptation of a favorite family sauce and incorporating the whitebait that travelled so far.  As an aspiring chef from Vietnam, we can’t wait to see Tri’s creativity and passion channeled toward a cuisine he has little experience with – Italian.

UPDATE! Read Tri's blog from his assignment in Emilia-Romagna as our Culinarian.

The Pilgrim: Elena Valeriote

Meyer Lemon Bundt Cake (USA)

Judge's comments:

Packing your suitcase with lemons is just crying out for a TSA scan at the airport. However, Elena’s devotion to this humble fruit and the delicious cakes it inspires is her tie to home while living away from it. As the granddaughter of poor Italian immigrants, that means that food (like the unassuming lemon) is never taken for granted. Having never explored Italy, this is her pilgrimage – to her ancestral home (what will she smuggle back this time?).

UPDATE! Read Elena's blog from her assignment in Cinque Terre as our Pilgrim.

The Shortlist (in no particular order)

Darcy Boles - Pasta Puttanesca (italy)

Amy Turner - Algerian Meat Pancakes (Algeria)

Sasha Jeppesen - Rimbick Political Strike Momos (Nepal)

Joan Christine Beverly - Lola Illang's Sukulati De Cacao (Philippines)

Ryan Schwartz - Farmer's Okonomiyaki (Japan)

Vivian Yue - Saba's Gulah Gulah (Maldives)

Santiago Rosero - Fish & Green Plantain Cazuela (Ecuador)

Hide Kurokawa - Croute Mayen (Switzerland)

Karyn Servin - Papa's Rellenas (Peru)

Charlotte Payne - A Giant Hornet Feast (Japan)

Rachel Davey - Chicken Tagine with olives & preserved lemons (Morocco)

Kristin Drewes - Aloo Parantha, Stuffed Potato Bread (India)

Michelle Capobianco - Pallotte cac'e ove (Italy)

Martin Bleazard - Pap, Beer & Boerie Stew (South Africa)

Ceire Pearson - Papa's Pasta (Fusion)

Kym Kamel - Moqueca de Camarao, Coconut Shrimp Stew (Brazil)

Ann Foo - Piotr's Abused Pierogi (Poland)

Bronwyn Dales - Black Mussel Soup (South Africa)

Rachel Glueck - Salsa Mole Negro Tradicional (Mexico)

Yiota Mallas - Bourekia (Cyprus)

Jana Blomqvist - Goulash (Hungary)

Carolynn Look - Weird Character Noodles (China)

Marcela Orcali - Chai Masala Cream with Chocolate Ganache (Fusion)

Asia Nichols - Crepe-fried Flowers (Thailand)

Dinusha Jayatillake - The Perfect Pol Sampol - two ways (Sri Lanka)

Angelica Pan - Kaiserschmarrn (Austria)

Yordanka Mancheva - Saganaki Mussels (Greece)

Kacey Hadick - Misir Wat, Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew (Ethiopia)

Jessica Andrews - Grandma's Secret Family Sauce over Cavatelli (Italy)

Joan Manalang - Yema Balls (Philippines)

Mayra Jinkings - Catalan Black Rice (Spain)

Reem Morsi - Couscous from the Heart (Tunisia)

Jessica Rigg - Sate Lilit Ayam (Indonesia)

Max Dornbush - Pescado Frito Entero (Colombia)

Priyanka Bhattachary - Junglee Maas (India)

Julia Mullamphy - Uzbek Plov (Uzbekistan)

Jeremy Bowell - Moroccan Harira, Lamb & Chickpea Soup (Morocco)

Chiara Caputo - Tagliatelle with nduja, pancetta and ripe tomatoes (Italy)

Sonya Lopaeva - Sun in Dough (Russia)

Maddison Sawle - Palestinian Maqlooba (Palestine)

Samantha Hawker - Elena's Pasta Recipe (Italy)

Erika Mori - Mákos Kifli, Poppy Seed Crescents (Hungary)

Kanykei Seitkazieva - Sumelek (Kyrgystan)

Kathleen Shaughnessy - Shorbat Adas (UAE)

Nikita Deshpande - Chutney from the Skin of a Bottle Gourd (India)

Jessie Marie LaDouceur - Adas Polo (Iran)

Dina Lijic - Sarma, Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Croatia)

Deborah Melo - Khoresht Bademjan with Tahdig (Iran)

Vanessa Ip - Bak Kwa, Chinese Pork Jerky (Singapore)

Kate Bailward - Pasta alla Norma (Italy)

Lucille Schnierer - Moroccan Fish Tagine (Morocco)

Bianca Gignac - Paola's Malfatti, Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings (Italy)

Emily Robison - "Goan Hospitality" Tumeric Chicken (India)

Ludie Minaya - Nikujaja (Japan)

Larelle Bossi - Spaghetti con Vongole (Italy)

Please feel free to leave your congratulations to the winners and the shortlisted entries below. However, if you have any other comments, concerns, program feedback or trollish rants, please email us at [email protected].

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