Cooking Competition “Trial By Fire” at Elvegast

The Challenge: To create a period dish under the conditions found at the PENNSIC WAR.

The Categories:

  • 1)    Best Main Dish   (Includes fish and shellfish) 
  • 2)    Best Vegetable 
  • 3)    Best Grain   (Includes Bread) 
  • 4)    Best Dessert 
  • 5)    Grand Champion – to be awarded at the Judges’ discretion.

The Rules:

  • 1)   The recipe must either be:
    • a) Published between 150 and 1650 AD. (For the empirically inclined Apicius will be accepted.)
    • b) Have all ingredients and cooking methods documented in period.
  • 2)   Recipes must be brought to the competition. Please bring at least 3 copiesDo not include your name. 
  • 3)   Competitors must bring all ingredients to site and prepare the dish in situ. An ingredient requiring more than four hours preparation is acceptable ONLY if it is an ingredient and not the entire dish.**
  • 4)   Dishes must be prepared under conditions as found at PENNSIC.  No electric appliances. Acceptable examples: Grill, Smoker, Dutch oven, battery-operated tools or Spit over an open fire (assuming site permits ground fires). If you have questions, please ask.
  • 5)   You must bring all cookers, pots, pans, utensils, dishes, etc. necessary to prepare your dish.  
    • (NOTE: Please mark all utensils, dishes, etc., so that orphans left behind can be reunited with their loved ones.)
  • 6)   Dish must be sufficient to serve 4 to 6 healthy adults. (No penalty for making more.)
  • 7)   Each competitor may enter only one dish per category, but may enter as many categories as desired.
  • 8)   All competitors must register by 10:00 am on the day of the competition with the Magister Gaelan mac Cuinneagain.
  • 9)  The site will open at 9:00 a.m. for set up and registration.
  • 10) Preparation and cooking will begin at 12:00 noonStart times for each team will be staggered by 15 minutes.
  • 11) Dishes must be completed and ready to serve 4 hours from your start time.
  • 12) Each competitor is limited to 2 people. 

The Judging:

Judges will be drawn from impartial Notables present. Judging will be blind and will use these criteria.  

  • 1)   Presence and completeness of Documentation. ***  
  • 2)   Taste
  • 3)   Texture
  • 4)   Presentation
  • 5)   Bonus points based on the judges’ knowledge of period cooking. For example: if a dish has been religiously copied from a period source despite complexity or cost or if a dish shows notable creativity within a recipe, etc.
  • 6)   Bonus points may be awarded to competitors depending upon the number of members on the team and the number of dishes that are entered.  

Please contact the Magister Gaelan mac Cuinneagain, OP if you have questions or need an ingredient verified.  Please put “TRIAL by FIRE – Elvegast” in the subject heading; send to:   Gaelan mac Cuinneagain at lordgaelan AT

** No advance preparation is permitted, UNLESS the recipe clearly states that the step requires more than four hours. Documentation is required.

*** Minimal documentation should include: (1) The original recipe and source; (2) Your redaction ;  (3) Tell us why you chose this recipe, a bit about the ingredients, what you changed and why, and if there is anything you would do differently.

General Information:

The Canton of Elvegast sponsors this Challenge. The challenge is to create a period dish under the conditions found at the PENNSIC WAR. This is an opportunity for all those interested to come and cook and compete and socialize. It is also that rare opportunity to recognize that Cooking is a Spectator Sport!

Things to bring:

  1. Your recipe (3 copies) and any additional documentation. (NOTE: Minimal documentation should include (a) the original recipe; (b) your redaction or translation; and (c) any notes related to changes you made in the recipe and why, information on the dish or ingredients, the cooking method, etc.)

To allow for blind judging, do not include your name with either the documentation or the recipes.

2.     All your ingredients.

3.     All the pots, pans, utensils, etc., necessary to prepare your dish. This includes knives, cutting boards, serving dishes, etc. NOTE: please mark what you bring.

4.     A table or other surface on which to prepare and cook your dish(es).

5.     Chairs (if you wish to be seated).

6.     Appropriate cooking accessories – your grill, Coleman stove, smoker, hot pads, towels, etc.

7.     Your favorite liquid refreshment (the Guild will provide ice water).

Things to remember:

  • 1.     This competition is open to all.
  • 2.     Spectators are welcome.
  • 3.     Garb Please!
  • 4.     Any medications you need (bee sting kits, allergy and asthma supplies, etc.)


  • 1.     We are in favor of them.
  • 2.     You are responsible for your own children. The Guild does not provide babysitting services. 
  • 3.     There will be children’s activities scheduled during the day.
  • 4.     Because the competition begins early, you should plan to feed yourself lunch. Please bring what you and your family will need to survive until after the judging is complete.