“The Stinking Rose:” Garlic Fest in Gilroy

By Melanie Yunk; Photos by Kent Yunk

[Hint: Quick garlic is here on]


In a dusty field, surrounded by giant redwood trees and lots of sunshine, 108,000 people converged over 3 days to celebrate the most fragrant and pungent member of the onion family, the garlic, at the 31st Annual Garlic Festival. The yummy smell of roasting garlic filled the air as people enjoyed a variety of garlicky foods, danced to live music on 2 stages and watched the Cook-Off and Garlic Showdown.

My hubby and photographer, Kent, and I arrived on Sunday hungry and excited about the days’ festivities.

Garlic Showdown

Our first and favorite event of the day was the Garlic Showdown sponsored by Raley’s and Nob Hill Foods. The 1.5-hour “Iron Chef” event was hosted by Chef Fabio Vivani of Bravo Television Network’s Top Chef show. Chef Fabio is charming, funny and loves to give away produce. He gave away most of the watermelons, cantaloupes and a few veggies from the stage to people in the audience in exchange for fun facts about garlic.  Did you know:

– Garlic freezes 5 degrees below the freezing temperature of water
– 90% of all US garlic is grown in Gilroy and 70% is produced by Christopher Ranch
– Garlic paste removes oil stains from concrete

Melanie and Fabio
Melanie and Fabio

The judges were a diverse group including:

– Marcy Smothers of the nationally syndicated radio program Food Guy and Marcy with Guy Fieri
– Dana Stubblefield, former 49er, Washington Redskin and Oakland Raider
– Local celebrity chefs Sam Bozzo & Gene Sakahara
– Bill Christopher of Christopher Ranch
– Barbara DeLorenzo, past Cook-Off/Recipe Stage chair

Chef Ryan Scott won $5,000 in the 3rd annual Garlic Showdown, beating 4 other culinary teams including Chef Jamie Lauren of the 2009 Top Chef series. The competition included tomatoes as the secret ingredient. Chef Ryan featured a four-course entry that included Homemade Hand-Torn Pasta with Baby Tomatoes, Tomato Broth & Mozzarella with Sun-Dried Tomato, Black Garlic-Encrusted Beef Tenderloin with Sungold Tomato Succotash and Watermelon Tomato Salad with Smoked Tomato Vinaigrette.

We had a great time and will definitely return next year, along with 108,000 other garlic fanatics.

More garlic recipes are here:


AboutDave Dewitt

Dave is known in the media as "The Pope of Peppers" because of the 36 books he's written on chile peppers and spicy food around the world. He's also co-producer of the National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show and editor and publisher of the Fiery Foods & Barbecue SuperSite at His latest book, with chile breeder Dr. Paul Bosland, is The Complete Chile Pepper Book.

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