The suspense of who got bragging rights in the first food contest of the Merced County Spring Fair kept people glued to their seats, as judges slowly worked through the entries.
The Special Cheesecake Contest featured four categories: plain, plain with fruit, flavored and savory.
In year’s past there have been as many as five categories, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t stiff competition.
Judge Reno Martinelli said he and fellow judge Larry Borelli enjoyed the entries and are surprised each year at the level of excellent baking the competition produces.
“It surprises me every year how well they create the cheesecakes, there’s consistency year in and year out,” Martinelli said.
The cheesecakes were judged on taste, appearance, body, aroma and the recipe.
Borelli said he has one major ingredient he looks for in a cheesecake – butter.
“I look for how much butter people can use in a recipe and still make it taste good,” Borelli said.
Sydney Gerstenberg, 17, was new to the competition this year. She placed second in the plain and plain-with-fruit categories.
“I’m very new. It was my first time, thank God it was cooked on the inside,” Gerstenberg said.
Zelia Janis came in third in the plain category. Janis said she would have liked to have finished higher, but she’s not upset because she has won in the past.
“Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t. That’s how it goes,” she said.
Winners in the special cheesecake contest: The plain category: Art Thivierge, first place; Sydney Gerstenberg, second place and Zelia Janis, third place. Plain with fruit category: Maria Oliveiria, first place; Sydney Gerstenberg, second place. Savory category: Terri Chagnon, first place. Flavored category: Kathleen McClary, first place; Brittany McClary, second place and Marie Oliviera, third place.