Salsa contest entries not too hot for longtime judge

By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.comMay 10, 2013 

Michael Amabile, owner of España's Southwest Bar & Grill, has sponsored the Special Mexican Salsa Contest for years and has been consistent in one request -- don't make the entries too hot.

So of the 20 salsas put in front of Amabile and his daughter Alyssa on Sunday, there was no excessive heat.

"I can handle the jalapenos. It's when they start putting the ghost peppers in that I start to worry," Amabile said.

As he was judging he complemented the contestants.

"You've all been kind to us because they're just mildly hot," Amabile said.

Through the years, Amabile said, he's judged many different salsas. However, there was one that was definitely out of the ordinary.

"This is the first salsa in all the years I've been doing this that I've encountered a salsa that has a lot of meat in it," Amabile said while judging an entry from the "canned or fresh tomatoes" category.

Overall, Amabile said, this year's entries were of high quality.

"They were all excellent, very different flavors and they were really hard to judge because they had their own uniqueness," he said.

The contest featured fruit, canned and fresh tomatoes categories and best of show.

Kayla Valdez and Sydney Gerstenberg placed first and second respectively in the "canned or fresh tomatoes" category. In the fruit category first place went to Cynthia Chuvichien and second place was awarded to Araceli Valdez. The best of show award also went to Valdez.

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