Wednesday, March 22, 2017

North Florida Eggfest 2017

[Standard FTC Disclaimer] I received no compensation for this post.  I have received complimentary products in the past from some vendors mentioned, including: FlameBoss, Smokeware, Albukirky's Seasonings,Craycort, and GrillGrates.  Certified Angus Beef is a sponsor.

A few weeks ago, I went down to Florida to cook at the North Florida Eggfest.  This was a first year Eggfest sponsored by Pinch A Penny.  In addition to being a top notch Big Green Egg dealer, this Pinch A Penny is your total pool, patio, and spa store if you are in the North Florida area (Duval, St. Johns, etc).

It may have been a first year event, but from attending the event, you wouldn't know it was their first rodeo. James Simmons and the Pinch A Penny crew did their homework and put on an excellent Eggfest.

  • The event was a charity fund raiser for ESPWA Ministries.
  • They had great cooking teams involved.  Teams like Southbound Rob, Gentry's BBQ, North Georgia Eggers, and well, everyone was awesome.
  • They brought in some of the most popular accessory companies.  Smokeware, Flameboss, and Pizza Porta were on hand to demonstrate their products and answer questions.
  • Their prizes and giveaways were as good or better than some much bigger, well established Eggfests.  The prizes included inflatable Eggs, custom Yeti products, and even a BGE Mini-Max for the People's Choice winner.  That's first rate!
  • They thought of the tasters.  Small touches like giving away free bottles of ice cold water were well appreciated.
  • The swag bags for the cook teams were stuffed with great things that Eggers can use.
  • Best of all?  Pinch A Penny paid off the weatherman and we had absolutely gorgeous blue skies and warm temps. 
We had a great time cooking and serving the crowds.  The absolute best part was spending time with my best friends and our families came out for the event.  We do a lot of contests, Eggfests, and other events each year but this is the first time my whole family has ever been there at once.  That made this a special event for me.

If you didn't make it this year, you'll want to put North Florida Eggfest on your calendar for next year. It is a fantastic Eggfest and I anticipate it will grow quickly.

To give you a glimpse of our experience at this fun Eggfest, this post is entirely comprised of phone pics from my mom, my sister, and myself.

Normally it's a little over 8 hours from Knoxville to Jacksonville.  Then again, NORMALLY the Interstate in North Carolina isn't a parking lot! 

Cooking pork butts on a Big Green Egg using a Flame Boss controller and a Thermoworks ChefAlarm.
10+ hours later, I arrived in Jax.  Rhonda already had pork butts smoking on her Large BGE. She had her FlameBoss 200 controller keeping the temps.  I love her Egg you think she'd notice if I tried to take it home with me the next time?

Albukirky Seasonings Green Chile Rub makes a superb smoked Tex-Mex pork butt.
These pork butts are our favorite Tex-Mex style pork - seasoned heavily with Albukirky's Green Chile Rub.  This style pulled pork is a tasty departure from the usual pulled pork and it is amazing in tacos, burritos, and on huevos rancheros.  

Friday started off with a planning meeting at Poe's Tavern in Atlantic Beach. We joked about a raven pooping on our plates. At the end of the meal, a sparrow pooped partially on my plate. Good times:)
Their burgers are big, creative, and messy. This is the Black Cat with grilled onions, applewood smoked bacon, chili, piemento cheese, and onion straws.

Beauty and the Beastie Boys.  Sean arrived from Tampa and it was time to knock out the food prep.  We three dudes tried to look "tough" but you can see we could barely contain our grins, if you look closely.

Eggfest tip:  Prepare everything that you can ahead of time.
Prep consisted of splitting a case of chicken wings, coring out 8 gallons of pickles, trimming an 8.6 lb beef tenderloin, mixing stuffing for pickles, making horseradish cream sauce, making batches of Thai cashew sauce for wings, making wing rub, making beef rub, and I'm sure I'm forgetting plenty. The more you prep the day before, the easier your Eggfest cook will be.  

Certified Angus Beef is the #bestbeef and the reverse seared beef tenderloin recipe rocked.
Staff meal!  When I did the whole beef tenderloin on Facebook live with Certified Angus Beef, I talked about minimizing waste by using all of it.  We used the "scraps" from our trimmed beef tenderloin to make a few small filet and a bunch of tender chunks of beef that we soaked in an Asian style marinade that Carson and I threw together.  I know it had Yoshida's, Sriracha, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Probably some other stuff too. It was one of those "taste-add-taste again" things.

Waiting for the wok to heat up for some stir fried veggies.

The filet were an appetizer.  We seasoned them with our basic beef rub and grilled them over hot coals on a Craycort cast iron grate.

Fancy plating?  Nope!  I warned you these were candid shots.  We sliced them up and all of us just grabbed bites as we worked in the kitchen.

Cooking stir fry on a Big Green Egg equipped with Craycort cast iron grates.
We put the marinated beef tenderloin on a Fire Wire skewer and grilled it just a few minutes per side. Then we stir fried some onions and peppers, made rice, and steamed broccoli.

I have to admit, this was a pretty good way to use scraps to feed the kitchen.
We got done prepping around 10pm, stationed everything, and got to bed around midnight.

Saturday finally arrived and it was time to rock and roll.

At dawn, it was time to load up since we were going to be "wheels up" at 7:15. For our KCBS BBQ contests we have our fully stocked concession trailer but those events are up in the Tennessee region, where our trailer is.  We travel light to Eggfests in Florida but that still ended up being two pick up trucks full.

North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
Setting up on site.  First thing is getting your Big Green Eggs from the organizer and getting them lit.  Then you can set everything else up.

North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017 getting set up.
The great thing about Eggfests is that the dealer gives brand new Big Green Eggs for the teams to use.  Then people can buy those "used only once" Eggs for a pretty steep discount.  If you are ever serious about buying a BGE, check your region for upcoming Eggfests.

Many Eggfests have one or more charities that get the profits from ticket sales.  The North Florida Eggfest chose ESPWA Ministries for their charity.

North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017 cook teams getting ready
The few hours before "gates open" is pretty hectic for all involved. The organizer's crew is trying to get everyone their Eggs and set up.  Vendors are setting up their booths and wares.  Cook teams are trying to get everything cooking.  

This is also when you hear things like "Where is the ______?" and "I thought you said that YOU had it."

For KCBS contests, we usually have our 16' mobile kitchen trailer AND a 10' x 20' grilling area.  For Eggfests, we have a 10 x 10 space and that's about it so space is tight.

North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
The "back of house".  We had 2 of our own Mini-Maxes and the 2 Large BGE from Pinch A Penny.  We had a Yeti and Igloo for refrigeration. We had a Cambro for holding warm food and 2 small prep tables.

Team Nibble Me This at the North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
Almost done setting up. With space being a premium, the space under our serving table also served as storage space.

Starting to cook wings at the North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
Carson and I starting the first batch of wings. (The yellow thing in my sleeve pocket is a Thermoworks RT600C. It's not as fast as a Thermapen but it does fit in my sleeve!  They are also pretty cheap, I got 3 for less than $50.)

North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
Sean slicing up the bread for crostini. He's a relative new-comer to our team and likes to downplay his cooking skills but he was a huge help.  For example, I was pretty irritated with a batch of wings and lost a bit of focus.  He pointed out they needed to be re-sauced because of how the sauce had roasted too dry and saved that batch of wings.

North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
Sean and I figuring out the best way to secure our canopy since the winds were picking up while Carson was making the drunk pickles.

Our menu at the North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
Our menu for the day.  Instead of serving one after another, we served all 3 on a rotating basis.  The sticky wings are from my book, the drunk pickles are Rhonda's version from another Eggfest, and the beef tenderloin was easy effort/high return.

Reverse Seared Certified Angus Beef Tenderloin winning recipe at Big Green Egg grilling festival. #bestbeef
The beauty of the reverse seared beef tenderloin is that we were able to roast them for almost an hour at the beginning of the day and hold them until ready for use.  Then we'd sear them on a hot grill, slice and serve.  That's what is so convenient about reverse searing whole beef tenderloins for a dinner.  It lets you have it ready before time and then finish it at the last minute.

The beef rub was simple.  1 cup kosher salt, 1 cup coarse black Malabar pepper, 3 tablespoons granulated garlic, 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon ancho chile, and about 2 teaspoons crushed dried onion. 

Adjustable rig from the ceramic grill store at the North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
I brought my Adjustable Rig (Ceramic Grill Store) to give us more cooking capacity for the wings. We were cooking them indirect at 350-400°f until they hit 170°f.  Then we'd sear them off and sauce in batches as needed.  

Grilling wings at North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
Finishing off the wings.  Switching to direct at the end let us do them in smaller batches, crisp up the crust, and put some color on them.

Thai Sticky Wings recipe at the North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
Sauced, and served on crispy noodles.  We garnished with cilantro and crushed cashews.  Here is the full recipe for Thai Sticky Wings.

Slicing up the #bestbeef at the North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
Sean and I making up the reverse seared beef tenderloin crostini. For toasting the crostini, we used a Mini-Max with the GrillGrates turned upside down like a griddle.  I crushed several cloves of garlic and had them in a small pot of butter that we'd use to brush one side of bread to make the toast.

We pulled the tenderloin halves when they hit 125°f internal.  We held them for a bit so it was possible they overcooked while resting. Fortunately, our gamble paid off.

Slicing up the #bestbeef at the North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
They were perfect medium rare, I was completely happy with how they turned out.

We served the crostini with the horseradish cream sauce on the side.  That was a pint of sour cream, a cup of Seminole prepared horseradish, and enough beef stock to get the consistency that I wanted.  Then we added kosher salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. 

Slicing up the #bestbeef at the North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
Rhonda and Carson preparing the Jordan's Drunk Pickles.  They are a sort of gluten free cubano.  It is sliced hams, Swiss cheese, her Albukirky smoked pork, and mustard stuffed inside of cored out pickles.  Those are then roasted at about 350-400°f for about 15 minutes.

Jordan's Drunk Pickles at the North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
The pickles were a hit with the crowd.  People kept coming back and if another batch was coming out in 4-5 minutes, they would wait around for them to come out.

Jordan's Drunk Pickles at the North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
It was wonderful that the Jordan's Drunk Pickles were such a crowd favorite.  That is Jordan, Rhonda's son, in the picture background.  He passed away a little over a year ago and she named this recipe after him because he loved pickles.  He would have had a blast with us at this event and he's always with us in spirit.

"IT'S BLOODY RAAAAAWWWWW!"  Me doing my best Gordon Ramsay imitation. Kidding around for the camera of course.

Poor Carson making more pickles.  I'm pretty sure he's earned the right NOT to be on pickles at our next Eggfest.  That said, his work on the pickles scored big time.

Serving food at the North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
Being a first year event, I was worried that we had made too much food.  But a very good crowd turned out and we gave out all of our Jordan's Drunk Pickles, Beef Tenderloin Crostini, and most of our wings.

Serving food at the North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
Sean and Rhonda serving Jordan's Drunk Pickles and getting ready for the next batch of Thai Sticky Wings.

Serving food at the North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
The crowds were surprisingly steady for most of the Eggfest, we were glad to see such a good turnout.

My brother and I cutting up during a brief break in the cooking action.  My mom took this picture.  This shot makes me wonder if at moments like this she sees us as the kids we were growing up.  

Meeting friends at the North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
Jeff and Angie Gill are regulars on the Eggfest circuit, as both cooks and tasters.  We first met them at Porkopolis, the Cincinnati Eggfest and now we run into each other at events.

Talking with guests at the North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
One thing I like better about Eggfests than BBQ contests is the direct interaction with your judges.  Not some 6 anonymous judges giving you 3 scores.  No, this is the general public eating your food in front of you, telling you what they think, and asking about how you made it.  

It's also great getting to see fellow cook teams.  Just like the BBQ competition circuit, you get to know the teams whom you have cook alongside at previous events.  BBQ has the best people.
Great times at the North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
Annnnnnnd we're done!  What a great day with friends and family!

Southbound Rob at the North Florida Big Green Egg Eggfest 2017
Rhonda, Southbound Rob, and I - glad to be done. I first met Rob some 360+ miles away at the Pensacola Eggfest (another must attend event!).  He's a fantastic cook and got my vote for the Chef's Choice Category.  He had a tri-tip dish similar to our beef tenderloin crostini and it was very good.

Rhonda and Sean getting a selfie with the Inflatable BGE.

The giveaway drawing items were first rate!  Our friend, Jeff, won a FlameBoss 200 electronic controller!  Congrats, Jeff! 

The Cooks' Choice Award was chosen by the various cook teams voting for their favorite team's dishes (you weren't allowed to vote for yourself).  We were thrilled to win 1st Place in that category!  The prize was a beautiful 1940's Griswold cast iron pan and a Crisbee stick.

Then, they starting announcing the People's Choice award winners.  Some accomplished teams got 4th, 3rd, then 2nd place and we didn't get a call.  Then they announced 1st Place People's Choice...

We won 1st Place People's Choice, too!!  The prize was a BGE Mini-Max. 

1st Place!  But that's just because we had a killer team that had a solid menu planned and things just went our way on this day.  Any one of these teams could have won because they were all putting out good food.  Here we are with Organizer, James Simmons, during the awards ceremony.

What an amazing weekend with family and friends.  It was cool sweeping first place but the best part was cooking with Rhonda, Sean, and Carson plus having our families come out to hang out with us.

  • If you have never attended an Eggfest, you should.  They're lots of fun, you get a ton of inspiration, and you get to eat some great food.
  • If you don't have an Egg, you should.  They're lots of fun, you get a ton of inspiration, and you get some great food.
  • If you've never cooked at an Eggfest, you should.  They're lots of fun, you get a ton of inspiration, and you get to serve some great food.

So put North Florida Eggfest on your calendar for next year.  Our next Eggfest is Sunshine State Eggfest hosted by Wassi's Meat Market in Cape Canaveral, FL next month.  You should come check it out!