Monday, October 30, 2017

Scenic City Eggfest 2017 - Ooltewah TN

[FTC Disclaimer]  We are proud to be sponsored by Certified Angus Beef®.

This weekend was the inaugural Scenic City Eggfest in Ooltewah, TN hosted by Elder's Ace Hardware and the Nibble Me This BBQ Team was there to cook.  

Photo credit:  Elder's Ace Hardware

Here are a handful of pictures from the event.  I apologize for the quality and quantity in advance, I didn't have my camera (we just used our phones) and I didn't have time to get out and get shots of the other great teams like I normally do.

Big Green Egg Eggfest
It's a Big Green Egg invasion!  Photo credit:  Elder's Ace Hardware

For the uninitiated, an "Eggfest" is a regional food festival.  
  • Teams of grilling enthusiasts cook dishes on Big Green Egg grills and then serve them to the public, aka "tasters".  
  • The Big Green Eggs used that day are brand new and then after being used one time, are sold at steep discounts.  
  • They are a lot of fun, often benefit a charity, often offer free cooking classes, and sometimes have a competition element (but not always).  

Photo of the Scenic City Eggfest 2017
The event was moved under the cover of tents because it rained steadily and the temps were falling. The set up was a main 40 x 60 tent for the guests, store, classes, and dining area with teams surrounding the tent under pop-up canopies.  It was a dreary day but we weren't letting that stop us from having a great time and sharing our love of grilling with others.

First order of business is getting your demo Eggs fired up and decorating your booth/table.  One of my favorite table decorations is this sign made by our friend, Steve R., at the Sunshine State Eggfest in 2016.

Our menu was Beef Tenderloin Crostini, Wood Fired Pizza, Jordan's Drunk Pickles, and Cilantro Lime Wings.

First thing I cooked was slow roasting the Certified Angus Beef® tenderloin.  I slow roast them at 250-275°f until they hit an internal temperature of 125°f (about 1 hour) and then put them in a warm Cambro MPC300 to hold.  The seasoning was my NMT Beef Rub V.2 recipe.  Then when ready to serve, I'll take a section out and sear it over hot flames for about 1-2 minutes a side. 

The roasting set up shown above is one of my Adjustable Rigs with an oblong heat stone (great for ribs, brisket or anything long) at the bottom. The Adjustable Rigs are not cheap but they are worth every penny (we paid full price), in my opinion.  They give me the most options.
  • I always take them to Eggfests because they double or triple my cooking capacity on one Egg and cooking space is at a premium at these events.  
  • These rigs also let me adjust my distance between the food and the coals as the coals burn down through the event.  

Make the best pizzas using a Pizza Porta on the Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe
John has become the master of the Pizza Porta over the past year.  The team bought it for him at the Pensacola Eggfest just under a year ago and he uses it every Saturday.  You can cook great pizzas without one but John says the airflow over the pizza (instead of up and out) makes the pies just a tad bit better.  And on a cold, rainy, blustery day, it was nice not losing all of your heat every time you open the dome lid. [FTC Disclaimer:  We paid full price for the Pizza Porta]  PHOTO CREDIT: Elder's Ace Hardware

Despite the wet, "stay at home under a blanket" weather on a college football game day, there was still a solid turn out for the event. 

If you haven't heard of Ooltewah, TN, you should keep it on your radar as they are putting themselves on the culinary map.  It is just one exit North of Chattanooga.  We have been to three food festivals there in the past 6 months.  In addition to this event:
  • Ooltewah hosted the Ooltewah BBQ Brawl in the Spring and it was a World Food Championship qualifying event.
  • Ooltewah hosted the Lamar Johnson BBQ Classic a few weeks ago.
  • Several people from the area are qualified for the World Food Championships ($110,000 top prize) in Orange Beach, AL in just a little over a week from now.  Chef's like Dao Le, Andi Cagle, and Nick Thiers as well as Owl's Nest BBQ.

Eggfests often have free or VIP grilling classes during the day.  Here, Trace Scarborough, creator of Chicken Scratch (one of my FAVORITE all purpose poultry rubs) and owner of the Thunderbird Wings food truck, teaches a class on grilling the perfect chicken wing.  Kevin Ward of Four41 South BBQ was also on hand talking pork butts and brisket.

These Eggfests are a great time to stock up.  Elder's Ace Hardware had a lot of seasonings and accessories marked at discounted prices.

Our neighbor and teammate, Anna-Mae, assembling another pizza.  John and she were pizza rock stars and cranked out pizzas about every 15-20 minutes during the entire event. Photo Credit: Elder's Ace Hardware

Alexis and I assembling a batch of Jordan's Drunk Pickles.  They are a bit labor intensive but have gotten such great response at Eggfests this year that we HAD to make them.  They are essentially a Cubano sandwich minus the bread, stuffed into a pickle and then fire roasted.

Down the row from us, all of the cook teams were busy cranking out good food to keep the guests fed.  At the far end were our friends, Jeff, Angie, and Ryan Gill, regulars at Eggfests around the region and Owl's Nest BBQ was there.  But I never got a shot of us together like I intended.  Like I said, all of us were busy :)

Bringing out another batch of Cilantro Lime Wings.

John and Anna-Mae did a variety of pizzas, such as margherita, classic two meat, and I think improvised a few too.   Alexis is in the background making garlic butter crostini.

The thing that I LOVE about Eggfests more than BBQ contests is the interaction with grilling enthusiasts from all over the country.  They ask questions about recipes and technique.  We talk about preferences and quality ingredients.  It's just very open and social compared to BBQ contests were most teams are secluded in trailers and not very accessible.
Photo Credit: Elder's Ace Hardware

We invited folks into our cooking area because so many were interested in the Pizza Porta and wanted to know more about it.  

Slicing up a beautiful Certified Angus Beef® tenderloin to serve at the 2017 Scenic City Eggfest
While a lot of the prep goes on at the "back of the house" at these Eggfests, I like to slice the Certified Angus Beef® tenderloin at the serving table for the guests to see.  

Certified Angus Beef® Tenderloin on garlic butter crostini with gorgonzola cream sauce
Reverse seared beef tenderloin, so tender and delicious, on a garlic butter crostini and arugula with our gorgonzola cream. I'm always proud to serve this at events and getting to watch people's reaction.  

Wet, cold, and tired but we were still all smiles at the end of the day.

I was glad to see Food City being a sponsor for this event for a few reasons. 
  • First, because we shop at Food City exclusively for our Certified Angus Beef® and Holly Farms Chicken.   
  • But also because I believe companies that aren't "grilling specific", like meat suppliers and grocery stores, should be getting involved with Eggfests.  
    • These regional Eggfests bring in the local crowds who are actually shopping in local stores and buying the meat EVERY WEEKEND.  They ARE your market.
    • People attending Eggfests are hard core grillers and most have a good bit of disposable income.  
    • Eggfests are an opportunity to get people to sample your food, not just hear how good it is.  
So thanks to Food City for being a sponsor of this Eggfest and thanks to Certified Angus Beef® for sponsoring Nibble Me This so we can cook and teach classes at these Eggfests.

Special thanks to Elder's Ace Hardware for creating the first (that I'm aware of) Eggfest in the beautiful East Tennessee region.  Two closing thoughts - 
  • If you are a cook team in Atlanta, Nashville, Knoxville or parts in between, you want to sign up for this one next year.  They take care of their cook teams!  
    • They provided tents, tables, utensils, napkins, serving boats, and more.
    • Trash cans in the prep area were emptied by staff regularly - that's always a "small but huge" detail to me.
    • The team goody bags were easily over $100 each with 2 large Yeti tumblers, a large live edge wooden cutting board, grilling tools and more.
    • Staff checked in with us at least every hour to make sure that we had everything that we needed.
  • If you like to grill, even if you don't own a Big Green Egg, come on out next year.
    • Get some inspiration for your own grilling recipes.
    • Learn tips from the pro's. 
    • Get some one day discounts on grills, accessories, rubs, and sauces.