No one, however, had come up with a dish worth $10,000, and tension mounted as the afternoon wore on. The 12-pound stuffed ham had come and gone, ruled out on the grounds of impracticality and the oversweetness of its sauce. An Aztec Silver-plated Pot Roast was deemed a dish that should more properly have been prepared on a kitchen stove. Ham Rolls Hawaiian, which included a potpourri of ingredients ranging from horseradish and sauerkraut to crushed pineapples and cranberries, fell a victim to its own clashing mixtures. Worried frowns creased the judicial brows. There were only seven dishes left to be tasted—and then appeared Luau Pork Ambrosia.
From the moment it was brought in, this barbecued pork roast dominated the scene. Gaynor Maddox, the white-haired food expert of the NEA Syndicate, silently stood, carving tools in hand, savoring the aroma. The remaining judges—Isabel DuBois of the Chicago Daily News, Mrs. Florence LaGanke of the Cleveland Press, Phyllis Tamor of The Cincinnati Enquirer and I (representing SPORTS ILLUSTRATED)—were similarly captivated. Marinated in apricots, honey, lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic, onion, ginger ale, ginger and pepper, and roasted on a spit over low coals, Luau Pork Ambrosia, garnished with whole apricots sprinkled with shaved coconut, was a culinary masterpiece. All ingredients were blended in perfect harmony, with the charcoal fire adding a final touch of light, sweet smoke.
Who was its creator? On the following Monday morning, judges and spectators found out when Dr. Gail S. Erbeck, a dentist from Mason, Ohio, stood poised to snap a picture of the winner—and heard his own name called. Raised on a farm, Dr. Erbeck had been cooking outdoors since he was in high school but had never entered a contest before. When it was learned that he raised his own beef on the farm he still owned outside of town, he was asked why he had not entered a beef recipe instead of pork.
"I felt I had gone as far as I could with beef," said Dr. Erbeck, whose penchant for delicate experiments with viands would doubtless have pleased Auguste Escoffier." But pork was a new challenge. Considering the strength of the competition, I guess it must have turned out pretty well. Now somebody will have to take my picture."