Sunday, November 26, 2017

2017 Pensacola Eggfest

Fourth in a series of four posts about my food week in Orange Beach AL:

We were thrilled to attend the Pensacola Eggfest as VIP Judges once again this year.

This food festival for Big Green Egg grilling enthusiasts is one of my personal favorites and is one of the most well run Eggfests in the country.  Rally Pensacola, a group fighting childhood cancers, was the primary beneficiary of the charitable event this year.

It's always fun to peruse the team booths to watch them prepping their grilled culinary delights, such as, grilled wings, wood fired pizzas, and fiery small bites.  As a whole, I don't think there is an Eggfest with a better collection of cook teams than the ones who participate at the Pensacola Eggfest.  These teams can flat out cook!

Pensacola Eggfest 2017
Eggfest cook teams typically only have a few hours to fire up their grills before the gates open for the crowds.  So instead of pork butts, brisket, and ribs, most teams opt for quick cooking recipes that can be made in high volumes to meet demand.

The teams hit the ground running and work as a unit (or they fake it quite well) to get the food flowing before the crowds rush in.

Pensacola Eggfest 2017
The Big Green Eggs used in this Eggfest are provided by Escambia Electric and after they are used for just a few hours this one time, they are sold at steep discounts.  These have all been sold this year but I'm sure they can still give you the best price in town.

Pensacola Eggfest 2017
The Green Eggs and Bam Team are always a lot of fun and serve fantastic bites.

Pensacola Eggfest 2017
There is activity just about anywhere you look on the morning of an Eggfest.

Pensacola Eggfest 2017
Shad of Legendary Marine with a batch of their tasty "bacon pops".  They featured applewood smoked bacon and a sweet Knob Creek Honey sauce.

Pensacola Eggfest 2017
Some teams bring in extra equipment to help them meet the demand.  For example, we usually bring our adjustable rigs to get more space per Big Green Egg.  Hot Spot Fishing Charters brought a Carson Rodizio which is a Brazilian style rotisserie that spins 6 skewers at once.

There were several changes to the Eggfest this year
  1. The event utilized the baselines of the stadium field this year to spread the teams out, allowing the crowd more room to flow.
  2. There was no kids contest this year.  I'm guessing that's because of the layout changes but honestly, the kids teams were good enough to compete with the adults.
  3. The event added it's first concert this year - early 90's band Drivin' n Cryin' performed.
  4. The VIP Judging was changed to incorporate teams of judges for the first round and then the 8 VIP's did the final round of top 10.  This worked much better as the event was too big for the individual VIP judges to taste all of the offerings.

Pensacola Eggfest 2017
Big Moe Cason and his team of judges arriving to taste what the cook teams had to offer.

Pensacola Eggfest 2017
My sister took this shot of me with my judging team, sharing the story of how the now popular Pizza Porta made one of it's first public appearances at the Pensacola Eggfest a few years ago.

Cortland explaining to two judges the how the Pizza Porta works and why it makes a better pizza.

Pensacola Eggfest 2017
Ivan sharing his Green Mountain pizza.  It has a crisp crust, sharp cheddar, onion, spinach, Canadian bacon, and sweet maple syrup.

Pensacola Eggfest 2017
When you cook one of these Eggfests, time whips by at an incredible speed.  You are so busy you don't even have time to think until it is over.

Pensacola Eggfest 2017
BBQ Cupcakes - cornbread topped with slaw, smoked pork and drizzled with sauce.

Pensacola Eggfest 2017
All of the judges took this job seriously, writing detailed notes about each sample that they were served.  This is important because with all of the recipes being so good, it is the little things that make the difference.

Like I said, these teams hit every mark, down to displays like this.

Greenlight BBQ cutting into a bone in pork loin.  

Care for a small snack?

Victors BBQ getting notified that they made Top 10 and were in the finals.

Pensacola Eggfest 2017
The JJ George team were offering these huge fresh oysters, shucked that morning.  If you're in the market for a nice table for your kamado, check out their website.

Buck Yeah! presenting their Top 10 entry - fresh smoked mullet dip.  The mullet was caught the previous day, marinated overnight and then smoked with cherry wood for about 90 minutes. 

Pensacola Eggfest 2017
Fishing Chicks presenting their bacon wrapped dates.

Their dates were simple (just bacon and dates) but well executed.  The bacon was perfectly cooked and the sweetness of the date balanced it out.  Moe and I both thought it was glazed because it was so sweet.  Simple but well executed was a theme across many of the Top 10 this year.

Cortlandt presenting Pizza Porta's turn ins.  Their Fig and Pig pizza with sweet fig, salty prosciutto, and a few other ingredients was my favorite thing that I ate all day.

Shad presenting their Bacon Pops but not before organizing team member, Lisa Long, busts his chops a little.  

pensacola eggfest 2017, food festival
Chris of Hot Spot Charters passing out samples of their picana with chimichurri to the finals judges.  

Despite the iffy weather, there was still a very good turnout.  If you are buying a ticket for next year, I highly recommend buying a VIP pass.  A VIP pass gets you in one hour before the gates open for general admission.

Doug Jolly getting "stuff" done - the team that organizes this event is top notch.

Keeping the food flowing can be challenging when the lines never stop.

Team Cox has a place in my heart from now on.  Sure that's a great menu item but I just noticed the squirt bottles in the background.  The mismatched squirt bottle top is something I have done plenty of times. 
Alexis, "Is that the right top?" 
Me, "No, but it fits so I'm using it!"

Pensacola Eggfest 2017
Brothers of BBQ - a group of firefighters - served a delicious creamy white chicken chili that was ideally suited for such a cool, cloudy day.

Pensacola Eggfest 2017 pizza porta
The Pizza Porta team had a line all day long and I think they served about 40 pizzas if memory serves.

Pensacola Eggfest 2017
Ben explaining the Pizza Porta to a crowd.

Pensacola Eggfest 2017
Wings are a popular option at Eggfests but they can be time consuming.  At Eggfests, we will fire roast large batches using an Adjustable Rig.  We keep those in a hot box (Cambro) then, when the crowds hit, we flash grill the wings just to crisp up the crust.

Having teams down on the base line did seem to help break up the crowd and lines a bit.

The Eggfest got this new trailer this year.  Moe Cason, Big Green Craig, and I used it the Friday before to cook at the VIP party.  It's a tight kitchen but it has sinks, 2 large Eggs, and a XXL Egg.

I saw Knob Creek used in a few recipes.

Even on cloudy days, the Blue Wahoos stadium is a great event location.  

Pensacola Eggfest 2017

Drivin' n Cryin' performed a concert at the end of the Eggfest.

Left to right:  B.J. Mannix of Mannix Pools and Grills, Chad Romzek of Kick Ash Basket, and moi.  We were talking about B.J.s Chain of Lakes Eggfest in Winter Haven, FL this February.

Chad explaining the purpose and benefits of the Kick Ash Basket for kamado grills.

Smile!  Bonus shot of organizing team member, Buck, in the background "eating the profits".

I love these awards for the Judges Categories.  Totally bad ass.  It makes me want to take the judges badge off and suit up in an apron!
   The top ten finalists were, in no particular order;

  • Victors BBQ
  • Pizza Porta
  • Yacht Que
  • Dog House
  • Green Eggs and Bam!
  • Hot Spot Charters
  • Not Ready for Prime Time Swine
Congratulations to the top 3 Judges' Choice Award, in order;
  1. Buck Yeah!
  2. Fishing Chicks
  3. Brothers in BBQ

Sure, the weather this week wasn't your typical "Chamber of Commerce" weather that this region boasts most days of the year.  But on the bright side, it brought some waves in for the surfers just like last year.

Waves 2 years in a row for World Food Championships and Pensacola Eggfest?  That settles it, Rhonda bring my surfboards next year!

If you are in the area, you definitely need to hit the Pensacola Eggfest next year and taste what it's all about!  Some other upcoming opportunities for Eggfests include:

We will be doing a demo AND being a cook team
Winter Haven FL
February 24, 2018

Details pending but someone will be representing Nibble Me This here
Jacksonville, FL
March 10, 2018

Assisting with VIP dinner AND being a cook team
Vero Beach, FL
April 28, 2018