I hear that the average person swallows eight spiders a year while she is sleeping. Yuck! I've willingly eaten some interesting foods like alligator, sea urchin and eel. Bugs? Never! The fact that I accidentally eat spiders at night freaks me out. I thought I was going to lose my lunch when I first heard about BugFest, which happens each year at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. People pile their plates high with bug-filled dishes at Café Insecta. What looks like an ordinary plate is actually filled with critters! Check out my friend Alex's plate. Would you like a cricket with that cookie?
I attended the BugFest Critter Cook-off on Friday afternoon. Mike Lee, the Executive Chef of Sono, and Oscar Diaz, the Executive Chef of Jibarra competed in the challenge. Each chef created an appetizer, entrée and dessert using mealworms, wax worms, crickets, super worms and a “mystery” bug. Guest celebrity judges determined the winner based on the taste, originality and presentation of each dish.
Chef Mike Lee created tempura crickets and meal worms during the challenge. A plate of bugs was headed my way and suddenly I got the urge to try my first bug. With a little push from Andrea, I picked up a tempura cricket. I crunched down on a leg and was slightly freaked out. But wait! The cricket was actually delicious. Once I got past my fear of eating a bug I was ready for round two; mealworms! The tempura mealworms were much easier to eat and tasted like something I would find in one of Chef Lee's tempura sushi rolls. I promise he doesn't use mealworms at his restaurant, however, he has some serious critter cookin' skills!
Chef Oscar Diaz made a Mexican-style dessert using grasshoppers, the "mystery" bug. Everything is better with chocolate, right? He poured his signature chocolate mole over a pile of grasshoppers. The judges went wild over this dessert! Of course, I had to try Chef Oscar's creation.
I was amazed! Who knew grasshopper could taste so delicious? Who knew I would also eat bugs? I guess there's a first time for everything.
The panel of judges deemed Chef Lee from Sono as the BugFest Critter Cook-off Champion 2012. The competition was close and both chefs did an excellent job. They at least converted this Foodie into a bug believer! I'll definitely attend BugFest next year to see what creepy crawly and delicious concoctions the chefs will come up with next.