Picture an episode of Iron Chef: two chefs get a secret ingredient, and have to impress judges with how they work that ingredient into their dishes.
Now, add another chef, and the mayors of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton busting each other's chops, and you'll have the Three Mayors Cook-Off, one of the highlights of the Easton Garlic Fest, which wrapped up Sunday afternoon.
It was a big year for the annual garlic celebration, with about 10,000 attending Saturday and at least another 5,000 on Sunday, according to estimates from festival organizer Jo Moranville.
The skies were grey Sunday but the streets were still busy, with people shopping, listening to music, and lining up for garlic-infused lunches and desserts.
You could also watch cooking demonstrations and contests, including the one with the three mayors, which featured Easton's Sal Panto, Bethlehem's John Callahan and Allentown's Ed Pawlowski, each joined by a chef from one of their city's restaurants.
The chefs—Abe Lopez from Easton's Valenca, Joe Grisafi of the soon-to-open Corked Wine Bar in Bethlehem and Timothy Plante from the soon-to-reopen Youell's Oyster House in Allentown—each made garlic-themed meals while the mayors assisted and talked trash.
Most of the back and forth was between Panto and returning champion Callahan, who won last year with the help of his mother-in-law.
"Little old Italian lady," Panto told the audience. "As soon as she opened her mouth, we lost."
He suggested a cookbook for Callahan: "PB&J for Dummies."
"You must've been up all night thinking of that, Sal," Callahan replied.
In the end, it was Panto's, well, Easton's dish that won the day: the judges liked all three plates, but said Lopez's garlic and chili filet mignon was their favorite.
Lopez had a busy weekend, serving as the festival's headlining chef, judging a cook-off Saturday, and taking part in the Gastric Garlic competition, where he won the people's choice and judge's choice awards.