Sunday, September 21, 2014

Porkopolis Eggfest 2014

A few weeks ago I got up before the crack of dawn, drove North across Kentucky, and attended the Porkopolis Eggfest in Cincinnati.

What's an Eggfest?  It is a regional get together of Big Green Egg aficionados.  There are demo cooks who cook on dealer supplied Big Green Eggs to provide food samples to the crowd.  These aren't (necessarily) professional cooks - most of these cooks are just people who love their Egg and the Egg community.  They create some amazing bites.  The "tasters" are the general public that buy a low cost ticket that gives them access to all of the entertainment and food that the festival offers.  

In addition to the food, there are often instructional cooking demonstrations, entertainment, vendors selling kamado related gear, and pre- and post-parties.  Best of all is that all of the Big Green Eggs that are used in the event are available for sale at cut rate prices after only being used that once.  It's a great place to get your first Egg or to pick up another one.

These fests can ranged from small local Eggfests with a handful of folks to the huge official Eggtoberfest thrown each year by the Mothership (Egger's term for "corporate"), so I didn't know what to expect for the Cincinnati Eggfest.  When I arrived at Germania Park, I was immediately impressed by the large amount of people.  

In addition to the main gazebo, they had apparently stolen some circus' big top tent to accommodate the crowds.  Organizer, Eddie Meiners, told me that they had 86 demo cook teams and expected 600-700 paid admissions!  That is the biggest Eggfest I have been to besides the corporate sponsored Eggtoberfest which draws thousands. 

Chef JJ brought his team and bad ass cooking trailer to do in depth cooking demos.  It's the first time I have gotten to see him work - he knows his stuff.

My friend, BBQ brethren, and fellow Char-Broil All Star - Curt McAdams was on hand to do demos for a browned butter fingerling potatoes, grilled peach bourbon iced tea, and a blackberry thyme crisp dessert.  You can find the recipes he used at his blog - Live Fire.  Next year, he and I are going to do a demonstration together, that will be fun!

Grilling fruit is a great way to bring out their flavor and natural sweetness.

There were lots of well equipped vendors present.  This is often my favorite part because I get to check out new products hands on.  

Super nice stainless steel grate with hinged access to the fire box.
 Wardway Grill and Pool shop was the Egg dealer on hand, supplying all of the demo eggs and selling all of their accessories.  I bought a new large table cover from them to replace the 6 year old one that I have.  If you're in that area, check them out for your grill and pool needs.

My favorite vendor was Innovations by Chance.   I had communicated online with Mike Chance but it was good to meet him in person.  He has some exciting ideas for pimping out your kamado grill.

I think this is called the Fishbone, it is a stainless charcoal grate designed to prevent clogged air holes that happen with the stock cast iron coal grates for many kamado grills.

Mike showing his cast iron plate setter for the Large Big Green Egg.

The Raiser serves as a grid raiser and a spider rig.  Talk about multi-functional!
The live entertainment was very cool.  How many Eggfest have YOU seen that have alphorn players?

 But unquestionably, the absolute best part of any Eggfest is the great food and wonderful people.  Yeah, I know that is two things but they are both the best so cut me some slack.

There were a lot of family teams, great to see the kids involved.

Eggs.  Eggs for sale EVERYWHERE!

Tasters go from booth to booth sampling the foods as they are ready.  It's a lot of work just to keep up!

Even the cooks are having fun.

The Cluck and Squeal guys were there.  I've heard great things about their rubs.

To give you an idea of how big the event was, one of my Egg friends, Mike Tipton was there and he made the Kentucky Derby Pie that I never got to try.  I was there to sign my book.  Neither of us knew the other was there until two days later! 

The cook teams usually do 2-3 menu items and they come out at different times so you have to know when and where to be throughout the day to make sure you don't miss I did on the Kentucky Derby Pie :)

It was great getting to meet some long term Egg forum members, like Egret...
...and Kim Youngblood...

... and Rick is one of the primary inspirations for me trying to learn to be a better photographer.  His stuff set the bar for me.
Sorry kid, I don't care if "you left your ID at home", I'm not serving you beer!

Eeenie Meenie and Florida Grillin Girl serving up spaghetti squash.

A very busy, Eddie Meiners, the event organizer.

You can see, it's not just ribs and BBQ type food.

Ahhhh!  An alligator is biting my head!

Pork wings!

Tons of people everywhere.

Pizzas were a common theme but they were all unique.

The pictures don't tell half of the story.  To REALLY experience an Eggfest, you just need to go.  Even if you don't have any plans to buy an Egg, you will still have a great time!  There are still Eggfests going on - check for one near you on the Egghead Forum.

Pensacola Eggfest
I will be attending the Pensacola Eggfest on November 15, 2014  at the Blue Wahoo's baseball stadium. I am excited that my sister will be joining us for her first Eggfest.  If you are anywhere near the Pensacola/Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area, you definitely should come check it out. 

They had over 1,000 attendees last year and 75 demo cooks. Even if you don't own a Big Green Egg, these are a lot of fun to attend. For only $25 you will get to sample food from some talented Eggheads, see cooking demos, outdoor lifestyle expos, and get entered into a crazy good raffle.  All profits go to support Chain Reaction, a teen volunteer organization.  This is also a great time to buy a Big Green Egg at a discount if you're in the market.  You can pre-order one to make sure you aren't left empty handed.

If you are an Egger, you should consider being a demo cook for this event. It's hectic but fun and very satisfying.  Last I heard they still had spots open for cook teams, find out more about cooking in the Eggfest here.

If you have a copy of The Kamado Smoker and Grill Cookbook, bring it and I'll be glad to sign it for you. 

Just like Porkopolis, this Eggfest is sure to be a great time.  Come out out.