Q&A about the Cleveland Garlic Festival

Emma Anderson, the market manager for North Union Farmers Market at Shaker Square, took a few minutes out of a very busy week organizing the final details of the upcoming Cleveland Garlic Festival, to answer a few questions about what folks can expect when they show up on Saturday, September 12 and Sunday, September 13.


So we know that North Union Farmers Market is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year (Congratulations!), but how old is the Garlic Festival and how did it get started?

IMG_2469This is the sixth year of the Cleveland Garlic Festival which is a fundraiser for North Union Farmers Market. When the idea of throwing a large-scale fundraising event for North Union was being discussed our Executive Director, Donita Anderson, was so excited about the idea of a Garlic Festival. She had visited a few across the country  and always came back saying, “that was fun, but Ohio farms have better garlic.” Ohio soil is actually very rich in minerals which leads to fantastic flavor and there are hundreds of varietals within the state. It’s also such a versatile crop—almost every culture uses it so we don’t have a lack in food options for the festival.

It was the perfect crop to build a festival around and since many of the farms we work with grow it it was a lot of fun to put together!


What can you tell us about garlic that we might not already know?

Every year I seem to learn about a new health benefit! This year at the festival we will host a booth called Garlic MD, which will feature doctors volunteering their time to talk garlic health facts and recipes.

The most applicable for me would be that crushed raw garlic, applied to a pimple can take care of it. Especially useful during times of stress, like when you have a big festival coming up.


When folks come to the Garlic Festival, what do they need to be sure to try?

Mitchell’s Garlic Ice Cream, Garlic Fries , New Creation Farm’s Pulled Pork Sammy and Zanzibar’s garlic shrimp are all things you should not leave the festival without trying. All of the vendors really do such a lovely job incorporating garlic into their food though, you really can’t go wrong.

Zest food truck, a regular at our Shaker Square Farmers Market, is attending the festival for the first time and I really can’t wait to see what they cook up.


Cleveland Garlic Fest 2014Who are some of the chefs lined up for the Garlic Grill Off this year?

The chefs are my favorite part of the festival. They all do an amazing job and get so creative. It’s so much fun to watch them on the grills doing what they do. We are lucky to be able to work with such great talent in Cleveland and are also really excited to have added a vegetarian competition this year!

Here’s the line up:

Grassfed Beef Competition, Saturday at 1pm

Chefs: John Bausone of Forest Hill Kitchen, Chris Terry of EDWINS, Eric Wells of Skye LaRae’s Culinary Services, and Christopher Gresham of ABC the Tavern.

Judges: Joe Crea of The Plain Dealer, Brandt Evans of Blue Canyon Kitchen & Tavern and Pura Vida, and Carmella Fragassi of La Campagna.

Free Range Chicken Competition, Saturday at 3pm

Chefs: Andrew Bower of Bar Cento, Christina Iafelice of Table 45, Cameron Krahel of Canal Tavern of Zoar, and Randy Carter of Jack Flaps

Judges: Chris DiLisi of The Willeyville, Brandon Chrostowski of EDWINS, and Stefanie Paganini of International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute.

Pasture Raised Pork Competition, Sunday at 1pm

Chefs: Christopher Kafcsak of Deagan’s Kitchen & Bar, Erik Martinez of
Cibreo Italian Kitchen, Scott Burgun of University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center, and Anthony Scolaro of One Eleven Bistro

Judges: Debbi Snook of The Plain Dealer, Doug Katz of fire, food and drink, and Melissa Khoury of Saucisson

Vegetarian Garlic Competition, Sunday at 3pm

Chefs: John Selick of University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center, Anna Harouvis of Anna in the Raw, and Mike Rutledge of Happy Dog

Judges: Karen Small of Flying Fig, Scott Kim of SASA, and Britt-Marie Culey of Coquette Patisserie


What’s new at the Festival this year?

The new addition I’m most excited about is the Ohio Cheese Guild. We have so many fantastic cheese makers in the region and the Ohio Cheese Guild will be showcasing them at the festival. They will be talking about Ohio cheeses, doing cooking demos, teaming up with The Wine Spot to talk about cheese and wine pairings, demonstrating cheese board making, and they will even have a petting zoo!


Before you go, could you share a favorite garlic recipe?

As I consider the question I’m realizing that most of my favorite recipes include garlic, but if I had to pick one it would be balachaung. Balachuang is a Burmese dried shrimp relish which uses up to 20 cloves of garlic. My grandmother was Burmese and I have such fond memories of her and my mom cooking up a batch of balachuang while I waited impatiently to eat. It’s a potent dish for sure, but I am willing to risk garlic breath for that flavor any day.

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Get your tickets to the Cleveland Garlic Festival. Another great way to support the North Union Farmers Markets is to go to their BBQ Birthday Bash on Friday, September 11.

For details and tickets call 216.751.7656 or visit ClevelandGarlicFestival.org.