The Rapidian

Rapidian food reporter to judge in Grandwich competition

Chris Freeman's series of Grandwich review videos caught the attention of the competition organizers, and he will be one of three judges on August 17.
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Freeman analyzes a Grandwich entry for 2011.

Freeman analyzes a Grandwich entry for 2011. /courtesy of Chris Freeman

the mobile tasting unit in action

the mobile tasting unit in action /Chris Freeman

After eating every last Grandwich sandwich (that's 29 in all) in the first week of the competition and providing video reviews on The Rapidian, Chris Freeman, local realtor and Rapidian food beat reporter, was asked to be a judge for the 2012 competition.

Freeman's video reviews provided a description and image of each sandwich, as well as his assessment of the success (or lack thereof) that he felt each sandwich had achieved. He and his wife Melissa Williams-Freeman set up a "mobile tasting unit" in their car and compared sandwiches from to-go containers.

"We brought a sandwich knife and cutting board with us when we picked up sandwiches and we tried to eat the sandwiches as close to purchase as possible so that they would maintain their taste integrity," says Freeman.

Freeman says he was careful to give a fair assessment, and wasn't shy to point out elements that could be improved, but also wanted to be supportive of local restaurateurs.

"I don't want to 'beat up' anybody publicly. That isn't what I want to do," says Freeman. 

Freeman also posted his rankings of the sandwiches on the Facebook group he started, EatGR, which now has over 700 members. 

Freeman is joined in judging at the final Grandwich event by Torrence O'Haire, otherwise known as The Starving Artist. O'Haire is a personal chef and runs a roving supper club, along with other projects that have earned him a reputation as a local culinary personality.

The third judge is John Gonzales from MLive/The Grand Rapids Press.

"Gonzales...knows how to discover good food outlets and is also hyped up to be on board," says Mark Lewis, Executive Director of Neighborhood Ventures.

The Grandwich competition is open to public vote until Monday, August 13. The next day, the top 10 sandwiches will be revealed, and on August 17, Freeman, O'Haire and Gonzales will begin their judging portion of the competition on the outdoor plaza of the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) during GRAM on the Green (101 Monroe Center).

"A random draw will select the order at which time each of the Top 10 entries will be evaluated by the panel. Results will be tallied and announced to the public at about 7:00 p.m.," explains Lewis.

The public also has an opportunity to taste the Top 10 finalists between 5 and 7 p.m. The event is open to the public, and cost of admission is a donation to Kids Food Basket.

Freeman reviewed all the Grandwich sandwiches in the inaugural event last year as well. He shares his video reviews on The Rapidian, comparing everyday foods like tacos, gyros and hot dogs. Freeman says he likes to seek out the unknown small restaurants in out-of-the-way places. 

"I find that I am working out of my car every day and eating at new and interesting places all of the time," says Freeman. "I love sharing my experiences with others, and I know that there are others who feel the same way."

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