With a new slot as part of the Leamington Fair, the fourth annual Whoâs the Hottest Tomato Competition pit southwestern Ontario greenhouse vegetables against each other to take top honors June 18-20.
Courtesy Mucci International Marketing
Mucci International Marketing's yellow bell peppers, Rustico sweet long peppers and English cucumbers won the company trophies at the annual greenhouse veggie contests.
However, this year the event wasnât just for tomatoes. Leamington, Ontario-based Pure Hot House Foods and Clifford Produce Sales, Kingsville, Ontario, were the overall winners of the new The Perfect Pepper and The Coolest Cucumber competitions, respectively. Kingsville-based Mastronardi Produce, for the third year in a row, took home the trophy for best overall tomato.
The vegetables in each category were judged by representatives from local companies, including H.J. Heinz, a food writer for the Windsor Star and local grocery stores and chefs from local restaurants. Their judging was combined with the votes from 565 Leamington Fair attendees to determine the winners.
Hottest Tomato Competition winners:
- Mastronardi Produce: Best Overall Tomato, Peopleâs Choice, Best Roma Tomato, Best Cocktail Tomato, Best Bite-Size Tomato, Best Specialty Tomato;
- Fisherville Greenhouses: Best Beefsteak Tomato, and;
- AMCO Produce, Leamington: Best Cluster/T.O.V. Tomato.
Perfect Pepper Competition winners:
- Pure Hot House Foods: Best Overall Pepper, Best Specialty Sweet Pepper;
- Mucci International Marketing, Kingsville: Peopleâs Choice, Best Yellow Bell Pepper;
- Mastronardi Produce: Best Green Bell Pepper, Best Red Bell Pepper, Best Orange Bell Pepper, and;
- Westmoreland Sales, Leamington: Best Specialty Hot Pepper.
Courtesy R.E.A.C.H. Foundation
Westmoreland Sales took home awards in both of the new competitions held in conjunction with the Who's the Hottest Tomato contest this year. Dino Dilaudo, sales consultant (right), and his children accepted the People's Choice Award in the Coolest Cucumber competition and the Best Specialty Hot Pepper Award in the Perfect Pepper competition from Art Barron, president of the R.E.A.C.H. Foundation.
Coolest Cucumber Competition winners:
- Clifford Produce: Best Overall Cucumber, Best Mini Seedless Cucumber;
- Westmoreland Sales: Peopleâs Choice, and;
- Mucci International Marketing: Best English Seedless Cucumber.
The tomato that won Mastronardi Produce one-third of its nine awards is Zima, a new orange tomato the company started marketing this year.
âThis seriously sweet orange grape tomato packs an incredible punch when it comes to tomato flavor, so I am especially pleased to see it win these key awards,â Paul Mastronardi, executive vice president, said in a news release.
Also new this year, the owners of the 82 entries donated produce to a Greenhouse Farmers Market run at the show. The proceeds went to the eventâs hosts, the R.E.A.C.H. Foundation, which donated them to local victims of a June 6 tornado. Unsold produce was donated to the Salvation Army Food Bank.
R.E.A.C.H. is a small charity run by volunteers from the Leamington area. The group has raised several thousand dollars to help build schools, clinics and water wells, as well as sponsoring child care in Uganda. It has hosted the event for four years, the first two of which were in conjunction with the Leamington Tomato Festival.