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Master Chef: What's the Big Deal about Canned Tomatoes?

Maybe I am just ignorant, but I did not get why it was a big deal for Whitney to use canned Romas instead of whatever fresh tomatoes are available? Of course, I don't know what season the episode was filmed in, but if I were making a tomato sauce and I had a choice between some ripe Big Boys and canned (presumably at peak of ripeness) Romas, I'm not sure I would not have made the same decision. If the "fresh" tomatoes were from a greenhouse, that's another factor. It's not like she was making a salad, or a panzanella, or the kind of pasta that relies on fresh tomatos.

Is this really such a no brainer as was implied by the editing emphasis and the various "experts'" comments?

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  1. I thought the same thing, kleine mocha. When in a sauce, why would it *have* to be fresh tomatoes? Would it have properly reduced in the 90 minutes she had to make the dish?

    I also wonder how many times Steingarten and the other two female judges have been served canned tomato sauce in a restaurant they've eaten in and didn't realize it.

    1. Me too. And, even though the tomatoes look beautiful, who knows what they tasted like. And, for sauce, canned tomatoes work well. But, I think Whitney's downfall was overgarlicking the dish.

      I noticed a couple of oddities in this episode. they definitely had to have recipes because who can make a souffle or some of those other complicated desserts from scratch.

      The final four is not what I thought it would be.

      24 Replies
      1. re: beetlebug

        Re; the recipes - YES! I noticed Whitney studying something on the counter but the camera's shot didn't show it. But she would look at the counter, back to whatever she was stirring, and then back at the counter. She was definitely reading a recipe.

        I am glad Whitney made it through. I was tired of the Sharone/Lee chest-thumping, peeing in the snow competition between the two of them. But Sharone was right about Lee - there's fennel in MANY of his dishes! I also don't think that Sheetal should be there, but she's managed to squeak through. I really wish Jake was back there. Of the 4, I would like Whitney to win, even tho David is from my area.

        1. re: LindaWhit

          I think we're from the same area. A friend of mine used to work with David and says he's much nicer than he appears on screen.

          I'm also glad the Lee/Sharone thing is done. It was so tiresome listening to them squawk about who was better. But, both have natural cooking instincts that are pretty impressive.

          Sheetal is the weakest in the bunch, I think. I'm also sorry that Jake and Mike aren't there. But, what was Mike thinking, with the raw eggs in the dessert? Why not a whipped cream? For me, the vanilla challenge would have been ice cream and cake based. Like a vanilla angel cake paired with a honey vanilla ice cream.

          It will be interesting to see how Whitney holds up. She's very uneven. Although, she's either great or awful. Not a lot of in-between. I like Lee's creativity even if he uses a lot of fennel.

          1. re: beetlebug

            Good to hear about David. And I do understand how responses they give during confessionals can be taken and used out of context.

            Mike - I'm not sure if was ever going to make it to final 4. He started out VERY promising (his entry dish when he was trying to win a place on the show was phenomenal) but under pressure, he's seemed to cave.

            I had Jake, Whitney, and Sharone pegged for part of the Final 4.

            But hey - they've all got recipes (some of them multiple recipes!) in the MasterChef Cookbook, as I noted a few weeks ago, so that's pretty good for all of those who were included!

            1. re: beetlebug

              I'm so glad Sharone is gone. He couldn't have thought any more highly of himself and was always willing to say so. I was sad to see Mike go but he was rarely even featured, eg in the box challenge, they never talked about what he made, what he was doing. But, trifle in an hour? That's a dessert that does best when it sits overnight. I don't think the raw eggs are as big of a deal as Bastianich made out. He's never had carbonara? Buttercream? But, the overall, trifle looked terrible (I've never used raw eggs in trifle) and, by far, the worst of all three.

              1. re: chowser

                just a small quibble - in carbonara the eggs are not strictly raw, as they are cooked by the heat of the pasta

                1. re: thew

                  Yes and no--I wouldn't serve carbonara to someone undergoing chemotherapy with a reduced immune system. Heated more than completely raw but not enough to make them completely safe. I looked into it for my FIL when he was undergoing chemo.

              2. re: beetlebug

                I haven't watched this in a few weeks, was Jake the Asian guy who wore a hat? I assumed he'd go to the end when I first watched. Sharone looked silly all crouched in front of the oven and Gordon was annoying when he kept bugging them about time. David seems less obnoxious than he did at the beginning. There are so many new shows coming on that look decent in the next 2 weeks, I don't see myself wasting time with this or yet another Hell's Kitchen returning WAY too quickly.

                1. re: Joanie

                  well this week is the finale so you don't have to put that much time into it..

                  1. re: SDGourmand

                    I assume if MC was at all successful, they'll bust out another "season" very quickly.

                    1. re: Joanie

                      they already said it got picked up for a second season..

                  2. re: Joanie

                    No, that was Mike, Joanie. Jake was the short, burly guy with a beard and tree trunks for arms and legs.

                2. re: LindaWhit

                  Hi Linda!

                  I have dvr'd the series but have yet to watch any of the episodes.
                  I started from the 2nd episode, and did start to watch it, but I was busy at the time and got distracted.

                  How do you like it?

                  Or anyone else for that matter - How do you like this show?

                  1. re: NellyNel

                    Nelly, I"m watching it because I'm a bit invested in a few of the contestants...I want to see Whitney do well. I think some of the competitions are non-realistic, but I've been impressed with the finesse of some of the contestants. Some of the plating is beyond over the top (I'm talkin' to YOU, Sharone!) and some has been rather "drecky" (I'm talkin' to YOU, Lee and Sheetal!). I just enjoy seeing what they can come up with.

                    I *do* wish we could confirm that they have recipes they're working from, although it does appear to be that way, based on previous challenges where someone said they'd never baked, and yet wins a challenge (since you haven't seen it Nelly, I won't reveal here).

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      I agree with LInda, I'm watching it at this point because I would like to see Whitney do well. There are things that I like, seeing what the contestants come up with for example, and things that I don't, like the Hell's Kitchen editing.

                      I also wish they would go ahead and let us know they are working from recipes. There is no way an average person could make a souffle without a recipe. Plus I saw a piece of paper on Whitney's work station.

                      Could someone please correct me if I am wrong, but did Mike's name change from Myq to Mike sometime in the middle of the season or am thinking of someone else?

                      1. re: lizzy

                        I think you're thinking of a contestant on Last Comic Standing who spelled his name Myq

                    2. re: NellyNel

                      If I hadn't already invested time in it, I'd probably skip it. I fast forward through a good part of it as it is. I'd much rather watch an episode of Chopped.

                    3. re: LindaWhit

                      I have to agree about Jake. I pegged him for the final and I still think he got a raw deal.

                      Whitney confuses me. She's young and says her experience is cooking for her family but she has to have taken some courses, or perhaps her parents are foodies with great recipes? Sometimes she shows her age and lack of experience such as over garlicing her dish other times she rises to the occassion.

                      On thing is for sure she has the chops to be an excellent bakery. pastry chef. She's very exact with her measurements.

                      Mike - his quote made me laugh - something to the affect of I'm asian our dessert is some fruit. The eggs whites were a bad idea and had he not used them maybe Sheetal would have gone home. Had she picked the fruit maybe mike would still be there.

                      Sharone just over complicated things and it was always getting him in trouble. I laughed when they gave him a hard time about his murder on a plate.

                      Re: canned tomatoes. I agree maybe had she explained a reason why. Also in general its always serve fresh if you have it available but it should be noted that sometimes that may not be the best option.

                      I've been routing for Whiteny and still am, she's got talent, she's got eye for plating. She's really good. My only problem is that she is so young and the title Master Chef doesn't really seem to fit. Although I think she is better than Sheetal and I'm not always sold on either of the guys either.

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        That's what I was thinking about the showdown challenge, "They must be reading a recipe."

                        These are amateur cooks. Who would know the recipe for a souffle off the top of their heads?

                        Also, when the guy (forget his name) was adding the grind of salt before presenting to the judges, you can see the corner of the recipe below the table.

                        1. re: dave_c

                          I thought the salt was brilliant. Too bad the souffle wasn't. I was also thinking of adding a bit of cayenne in with the flour to make the souffle pop. I love the slow heat mixed with chocolate.

                          1. re: dave_c

                            These are amateur cooks. Who would know the recipe for a souffle off the top of their heads?
                            ~~~~~~~~~~
                            Yes, I know. This is what I've said for a few weeks already - Sharone doesn't bake. He's never made cupcakes.....and yet? The ONLY way anyone can do well in baking when they've never done it before is by having at least a basic recipe at hand.

                          2. re: LindaWhit

                            I watched it on DVR & paused it during the souffle challenge - they definitely had recipes. Whitney had a copy in her hand at one point and they did a close-up on a recipe sitting on the counter another time.

                            1. re: jenscats5

                              Cool, just as we suspected. So why don't they just SAY that? It wouldn't be a bad thing - these are home cooks, not professionally trained chefs who would have many base recipes already memorized.

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                Agree, I don't see the harm in mentioning they are working off a recipe as they are home cooks.

                                And I got a pretty clear look at the one on the counter - it was a computer print out.

                        2. I didn't get the big deal on using canned tomatoes either. Maybe the problem was that she didn't give a reason why she used them. Batali always said in his cooking shows to use canned tomatoes as they are picked at there peak and canned. It was just weird they all had such big problems with it. At the very least Bastianich should have said something. It's also very annoying they are not showing the recipe cards, it's very obvious they are using them. Especially after the souffle challenge. Hopefully they work out the kinks of this show for next season.

                          1. The chefs reacted the way they did because they are arrogant chefs. The tomato sauce was cooked, that alone makes it fine to use canned tomatoes. If it were the difference between canned green beans and fresh beans, then they didn't react strongly enough. I sort of saw the first couple of episodes and thought it was boring and not good TV. They didn't need to start out with 100 cooks, it just took to long to weed it out and there was a lot of video that seemed out of context and irrelevant.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: John E.

                              The judges weren't chefs, Joe E. They're a restaurant reviewer (Steingarten) and culinary magazine (Barbara Fairchild from Bon Appetit) and culinary website (Tanya Steel from Epicurious) honchos.

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                Yeah, I was thinking of Bastianich, Ramsey and the big guy who are chefs. I also know who the others are.

                            2. Honestly, I'm really surprised everyone seems to think the judges were wrong in faulting Whitney's canned tomatoes.

                              For one, it does make a difference, even in a cooked sauce. Fresh tomatoes (when they're good) have flavors that canned tomatoes lack. I've made tomato sauces many times both ways (fresh or canned, quick sauces or long simmers), and when I'm lucky enough to get or grow properly flavorful fresh tomatoes, the resulting sauces are more flavorful and bright and tomato-y than any flavors you can coax out of a can. True, the longer you cook the sauce, the fewer of those more volatile "fresh-tasting" flavor compounds will be left, but Whitney's sauce didn't look like a thick, heavily reduced, long stewed sauce. She had ample time to take a taste of the fresh tomatoes and make sure they were up to par for the job.

                              Secondly, and more importantly - it's a competition! At home there may be nothing wrong with making a sauce out of canned tomatoes... but as a representation of your prowess as a cook, c'mon. Why in the world would she want to showcase canned tomatoes as a FEATURED part of her dish? It broadcast to the judges that her standards are not all that high right when she should have been trying to convince them she's an utter perfectionist. And if it had turned out the fresh tomatoes weren't very good, Whitney shouldn't have made a tomato sauce at all - she could have chosen to make anything. So make something impressive.

                              Using canned tomatoes is like using store-bought dried pasta - there's nothing wrong with it in day-to-day cooking, but in a competition you either
                              a) make fresh pasta
                              b) skip pasta altogether, or
                              c) don't expect to impress

                              Why shouldn't a judge acknowledge her obvious error in their critique?

                              31 Replies
                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                Agree wholeheartedly. While I am no stranger to jarred sauces and canned tomatoes, a sauce is not "from scratch" if made with canned anything.

                                1. re: mojoeater

                                  The quality of the tomatoes depends on when this competition actually took place. By the way, saying a sauce 'is not from scratch' if using canned tomatoes is ridiculous. A 'not from scratch' sauce is Prego or other crap like that.

                                  1. re: John E.

                                    "The quality of the tomatoes depends on when this competition actually took place."
                                    ____________
                                    Certainly. But if the fresh tomatoes were bad, then scrap the idea for a tomato sauce, and make something in-season.

                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                      I'm just not sure this is true. Specific types of tomatoes are considered by folks who have been doing this longer than I superior for sauce; others are best for drying, others for fresh eating. Depending on the nature of the sauce, I'm not sure how you are supposed to surpass canned Romas by using--I don't know--fresh yellow boys or celebrities. I guess it depends on the context and what role that sauce was expected to play within the dish, too. At the very least, I don't think it deserved the knee-jerk disdain/bleak faces it got (will grant you oversalting and too much garlic OTOH justify all that!). Next will she be expected to dry her own chilis rather than use 100% powder? There's a reason there are main ingredients and "pantry."

                                      Still, thanks to all who weighed in. Glad I'm not completely alone in at least questioning this. ;-)

                                      1. re: kleine mocha

                                        "Specific types of tomatoes are considered by folks who have been doing this longer than I superior for sauce"
                                        ______
                                        There's nothing magical about roma tomatoes. They're recommended for sauces because they are hardy, cheap, dense, and have a high proportion of meat to pulp and seed. That's about it. Though there are probably a few exceptions (tomatoes with really extreme acid or sugar content, tomatoes whose flesh is particularly waterlogged), most commonly available tomatoes will make just as good of a sauce if you take the time to peel and seed them. The problem is just that many other varieties give you smaller yields of flesh after seeding, cost more, require more prep work, or are considered a shame not to eat raw. None of which were issues for Whitney. Almost all fresh tomatoes, if of high quality, can be used to make a better sauce than canned romas.

                                        Celebrities work very well (after seeding) - better than canned romas. I'm not sure what those unused tomatoes in the show were, but they certainly were not Lemon Boys.

                                        All that's a moot point in my book, since as I stated in the above posts, canned tomatoes are just a bad idea in competition. Always. Don't use them unless forced to.

                                        .
                                        " Next will she be expected to dry her own chilis rather than use 100% powder?"
                                        __________
                                        That's not quite working for me as an analogy since that wouldn't be feasible or reasonable to expect, whereas using fresh tomatoes was both. However, I would think it a bad idea to make a dish where chili powder was a major focal point and then use the bargain stuff you can buy in a CVS for a buck.

                                        .
                                        "There's a reason there are main ingredients and 'pantry.'"
                                        _________
                                        When your dish is completely bathed in tomato sauce, tomato is one of your main ingredients.

                                        .
                                        "At the very least, I don't think it deserved the knee-jerk disdain/bleak faces it got."
                                        __________
                                        Agreed. I wondered if the shocked facial expressions were just cut from some other part of the day's filming and edited back into the show for added drama at that point. Maybe not though. Steingarten's just like that.

                                      2. re: cowboyardee

                                        We're back to this again. So, if no fresh tomatoes of high quality are available, it forbidden to use canned tomatoes? I guarantee you that Joe Bastinaich uses canned tomatoes in his restaurants. He cannot have Italian food without canned tomatoes.

                                        1. re: John E.

                                          Marcella Hazan's excellent cookbooks often call for canned tomatoes, the ones imported from Italy.

                                          1. re: John E.

                                            'So, if no fresh tomatoes of high quality are available, it forbidden to use canned tomatoes?'
                                            _____________
                                            That's a judgement call. If you can make an amazing enough sauce that questionable ingredients will be overlooked, then go ahead. That's hard to do with a tomato sauce because any seasoned judge will have tried many, many tomato sauces in his/her life. It will be pretty hard to impress with something so common. If you're a strong competitor anyway, hopefully you have other dishes in your repertoire that will impress just as well.

                                            But that wasn't what happened here anyway - Whitney didn't even try the fresh tomatoes.

                                            I'm sure Joe Bastianich's restaurants use canned tomatoes. Doesn't matter in the least. Restaurant cooking and competition cooking are not the same. In a competition, you're gonna get faulted for it. Why voluntarily do something that will get you faulted?

                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                              You're acting like this is the bocuse d'or, it's a reality cooking competition on fox with home cooks.

                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                canned tomatoes are not "questionable" - pretty much every working chef out there will say they are preferable to off season tomatoes

                                                1. re: thew

                                                  I know that canned tomatoes are used frequently in restaurants - with good reason.
                                                  1. They are a more consistent product than fresh tomatoes
                                                  2. Restaurants that serve red sauce are generally obligated to always have some of reasonable quality ready to serve
                                                  3. They are often cheaper than fresh tomatoes.
                                                  4. They save time and manual labor in processing into a sauce, also helping the bottom line.

                                                  But they do not make a better sauce than high-quality fresh tomatoes. If any chef tells you otherwise, he's full of it. And none of those reasons apply to a competition setting like this one. It was a poor choice. I 'question' her decision to use them in a competition, just as the judges did. What's so hard about this?

                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                    I appreciate all your points, Cowboy. Though I don't know what fresh tomatoes were available to her, none of us does...anyway, that's all fine. I guess what shocked me more was the extreme reaction, like she' d made a cake with a Betty Crocker mix or something.

                                                    1. re: kleine mocha

                                                      I don't disagree with you. This has sort of blown up into a bigger argument, but I don't think it was some shocking, indefensible thing to use canned tomatoes, just a legitimate criticism. The finger waving and exasperation by the judges was uncalled for, but makes better reality TV.

                                                    2. re: cowboyardee

                                                      but they do make a better sauce than less-than-high quality tomatoes. which may have been the only other choice. what's so hard to understand about that?

                                                      1. re: thew

                                                        Admittedly. Did you see the episode? She didn't try the other tomatoes and wasn't obligated to make a sauce in the first place - in fact the dish seemed badly conceived (though the editors may not have shown all of its elements).

                                                        1. re: thew

                                                          Did you fail to notice the beautiful fresh tomatoes that were in the kitchen?

                                                          1. re: Miss Needle

                                                            Do we know when this show was recorded? We really don't know how good the tomatoes really were. I wouldn't even take the word of the people on camera since it's reality TV and not an actual gourmet cooking show.

                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                              From the looks of it they were vine ripened tomatoes that you can find at any supermarket any time of year.

                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                You bring up a good point. We can never take a reality show at face value. For all we know, Whitney could have tasted the fresh tomatoes, thought they were wonderful but was pressed for time so she used the canned as she wouldn't have to peel them. Or she could have tasted the fresh, thought they were vile and decided to use canned. Or she may have not noticed the fresh ones at all.

                                                              2. re: Miss Needle

                                                                @cowboyardee - given the fact that the show is not in real time, i have no idea if she tried the other tomatoes or not. nor do you.

                                                                @ ms needle - i noticed beautiful looking tomatoes. but they may have had no tomato smell to them. they make have been mealy. They may not have been as flavorful as the ones in the can. no way for me to know.

                                                                and, quite frankly, i disagree entirely with the premise that it is any way shape or form wrong to use canned tomatoes, or even inferior. they often have a deeper, more intense flavor, with less water in them, than fresh.

                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                  I grew up in an Italian American household...we had Gravy and macaroni every Sunday.
                                                                  Mom never used fresh tomatoes, and neither did grandma...Sauce was always delicious!

                                                                  When I got older and thought I'd be a bit more "gourmet" and make a Sunday gravy using fresh tomatoes...
                                                                  it was a bust!
                                                                  No way near as flavorful..sorry - it wasnt

                                                                  Of course there are certain pasta dshes where fresh tomatoes are called for - but they are not good in a Sunday gravy!

                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                    'given the fact that the show is not in real time, i have no idea if she tried the other tomatoes or not. nor do you.'
                                                                    ___

                                                                    To some extent, I am trusting what the footage showed. And it showed her pulling a horrified face and blanking when called out on her use of canned tomatoes, rather than explaining that the fresh ones were not so good. Of course this could have been an editorial mislead. However, if we're not willing to take any part of the footage on faith, then there's not much point of threads like this. Maybe she didn't even use a tomato sauce at all. Maybe the whole thing never happened. Spooky.

                                                                    'quite frankly, i disagree entirely with the premise that it is any way shape or form wrong to use canned tomatoes, or even inferior.'
                                                                    ________
                                                                    You're welcome to your opinion, but you're not gonna convince me. Or my palate. To be honest, I'm wondering some of you guys in the canned camp have ever worked on making sauces out of fresh high-quality tomatoes. Or if you guys have access to fresh tomatoes that were actually ripened on the plant. If so and you still prefer canned, more power to you. I have no idea what it is about the canning process that you think would improve/intensify tomato flavor or drive off water, though it does make them quicker to break down into a sauce.

                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                      I think what it boils down to is that nobody really knows what the quality of the fresh tomatoes on the show actually were. The reason canned tomatoes are usually a good product is that they are canned at the peak of ripeness. The same goes for frozen peas. Frozen peas are usually better than fresh peas because the fresh peas may have been picked a day or more before they got to the market and their sugars have turned to starch. I think Nelly hit the nail on the head.

                                                                      Then again, the whole thing could be a conspiracy where the producers scripted the lines for the judges and the chefs to add to the drama of the reality TV show. They're after ratings after all.

                                                      2. re: cowboyardee

                                                        Scraping the idea for a tomato sauce because they aren't in season is just stupid. She wasn't making a fresh tomato salad. She was making a sauce. I would use canned San marzano tomatoes (the best tomatoes for sauce) anytime of the year. How do you think Italians make a tomato sauce in the winter. They pick the tomatoes when they are fresh and then jar them. It's the same thing for us using canned tomatoes from Italy.. I'm all for using fresh seasonal produce but you are being a little ridiculous with your thoughts on this.

                                                        1. re: SDGourmand

                                                          "you are being a little ridiculous with your thoughts on this."
                                                          _______
                                                          Because I disagree with you? Come on.

                                                          Look, it's hardly a huge mistake. Canned tomatoes are not bad ingredients - they're certainly not canned green beens. It wasn't the biggest thing wrong with her dish. But I think you guys are fundamentally misunderstanding what competition cooking is all about.

                                                          You have time and ingredients to make nearly whatever you want. So you make an Italian cliche that most serious cooks can pull off competently, and you make it out of canned ingredients? This is supposed to impress? To win?

                                                          And if it's your job to judge a competition, is it not also your job to make this criticism?

                                                          "I would use canned San marzano tomatoes (the best tomatoes for sauce) anytime of the year"
                                                          _____
                                                          And why, might I ask, are those the best tomatoes for sauce?

                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                            You not agree with me is not the issue, you are entitled to your own opinion. I just have a problem with the way you are saying it, it's coming off as canned tomatoes are awful and should never be used, which is just ridiculous. If some of the best restaurants in the country are using canned tomatoes for there sauces why shouldn't you use them in competition? Like I said this isn't the Bocuse d'or, it's a competition for home cooks. Look at the girl cooking a 22 year old from the south with no professional training. Had she salted correctly and not added so much garlic the canned tomatoes would have never been an issue, which if we look at the other way, had she used the fresh tomatoes and added the same amount of salt and garlic she would still be in the same position. Which shows that using canned tomatoes in a competion is not as big of a deal as you aree making it out to be.

                                                            Everyone knows that San Marzanos are the best for sauce because if the meaty flesh, they are also sweeter and less acidic and just melt into the sauce.

                                                            1. re: SDGourmand

                                                              "I just have a problem with the way you are saying it, it's coming off as canned tomatoes are awful and should never be used, which is just ridiculous."
                                                              __________

                                                              I'd rather you not call me ridiculous without reading my posts first. They contain multiple disclaimers that canned tomatoes are fine for sauce in many contexts, as well as the admission that I often use canned tomatoes to make sauce myself. I made it perfectly clear that my qualm is only with using them in a competition.

                                                              In a competition, judges are frequently asked to choose between dishes that all taste good. And in those times, they will make their decisions based on originality, and difficulty, and making food to exacting standards. Making a sauce out of canned tomatoes shows off none of these things. I'm not trying to rip on Whitney - she seems like an excellent cook regardless of her age. She made a mistake is all. If she had not made other mistakes, it would still be an issue - now one that keeps a delicious dish from winning.
                                                              -

                                                              "Everyone knows that San Marzanos are the best for sauce because if the meaty flesh, they are also sweeter and less acidic and just melt into the sauce."
                                                              _______
                                                              Strange that everyone knows, since I seem not to have gotten the memo. See, I've made sauces with canned San Marzanos many times, but I'm pretty sure I made better sauces just earlier this summer with Better Boys and Romas fresh from the garden. Of the qualities you list, only the low-ish acid is critical to most sauces. Everything else can be compensated for by most breeds - sugar can be added, flesh can be broken down mechanically or via longer cooking, and less meaty tomatoes can be filleted with the pulp/juice reserved as long as you have enough of em.

                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                This past summer there was a major drought in our part of the world and the tomato crop was inferior. Romas were hard to find and most were grainy. Celebrity were slightly better but much smaller than usual.

                                                                Oh, if she'd said that the pretty tomatoes in the background were Floramericas, the judges might have known that the horrible grainy, tasteless tomatoes of their childhood winters live on to this day in the fields near Tampa. Sad thing is, they are still readily available and they look good.

                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                  Cowboy you talk a lot about cooking competitions, are you a chef that competes?

                                                                  1. re: SDGourmand

                                                                    Apparently I'm not allowed to reply in detail, even though it relates directly to this thread and a for-fun-only organization where no money is exchanged.

                                                                    But I am an amateur, and I cook competitively.

                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                      I think I requested you the other day on FB, I'm gourmands review on there.