Sunday, May 5, 2019

Event Recap: 2019 Sunshine State Eggfest in Vero Beach, FL

The Nibble Me This Grilling & BBQ Team had a fun-filled time at the Sunshine State Eggfest hosted by Wassi's Meat Market this past weekend in Vero Beach.

An Eggfest is a food festival that features mouth-watering grilled delights cooked on Big Green Eggs by teams of "Eggheads" (BGE enthusiasts).  This year there were 41 grilling teams, 8 restaurant teams, and 10 vendor teams participating in the event that raises money for Candlelighters of Brevard.

So much fun, food, and fellowship go on at these events that it is impossible to capture it all in a post.  But here are some pictures from the weekend to give you an idea of what goes on at these food festivals.

For Alexis and me, it starts with loading up the truck with coolers, hotboxes, grilling tools, and whatever else we can fit in the Titan XD.   Our drive for this event was 13 hours thanks to traffic so we got to the AirBnB (actually VBRO?) after dark. 

I woke up the next morning and saw that Sean was fishing at dawn. I rolled over an got another hour or two of sleep, the fish could wait.  Photo credit: Rhonda Hollis

We were on the Indian River which brings back memories of driving to Cape Canaveral to watch Apollo and Shuttle launches.   Rhonda got this fantastic picture from the balcony.
Usually, we do most of the food prep on Thursday at Rhonda's home so we have Friday to goof off and finish up any details.  This year; however, work got in the way and we ended up prepping most everything on Friday.

First up was trimming five beef tenderloins.  I have absolutely trimmed meat in worse places than this!  What a view.  

For each tenderloin, I trimmed the side chain, the small roast, and removed all of the silverskin.  I kept the chain meat and small roasts for the team.  I then cut the roasts in half, tied them, and seasoned them with our NMT Umami Stake Seasoning recipe so they could dry brine overnight.

Then it was time to prep our signature dish - Jordan's Drunk Pickles.  That requires a lot of teamwork and vast expanses of table space.  Fortunately, this rental came with a table that was so long you could land a jet airplane on it!  (But you better move the pickles first!)

That meant cutting pickles in half 430 times, coring out half pickles 960 times and making several steam-pans full of the meat and cheese mixture. 

Then it was on to prepping Mexican Street Corn.  Note to self:  Don't give Sean a big knife when you make him quit fishing and do tasks....he gets cranky and now he's armed! (ha ha)

Peel back husks, remove silks, replace husks.  Repeat until hands cramp.  I can tell this picture was taken before we realized that we were set up near fire ants, mainly because everyone is smiling.  

Prep also included Rhonda making high-protein, amino acid loaded jello to keep us all hydrated during the Eggfest.  [insert halo over my head]
Okay, I'm lying - those are Jello Shots!  She made Creamsicle, Tequila Sunrise, and Cherry Limeade Jello Shots for the team, isn't she a good leader?
We also made:
Red wine and beef stock reduction sauce
Cherry and bourbon sauce
Compound butter
Cilantro lime crema
Fireball caramel sauce
French toast casserole
Green chile breakfast casserole

Rentals typically have really crappy gas grills, like something they bought for $129 from Wally World on closeout sale.  We were stoked to find this rental came with a kamado grill!  It was a Akorn and full of half-burned briquettes that smelled of lighter fluid.....but it was still a kamado grill.

Carson and Sean fishing for dinner while Scott and Laurie mocked them encouraged them.  Later we would enjoy nice chicken sandwiches ;)

The morning of an Eggfest is chaotic, even with planning.  Someone on the team needs to be there when we are first allowed to fire up the grills so they can preheat.  Then we can take time getting our first dishes ready and decorating the team tables.  

A team's table is like their mini-restaurant or food truck for the day so we all want to decorate them to show off the team's personality and to make them welcoming to the "tasters" (the guests).  This is Churrasco Trio's team booth.

Pallets of lump charcoal disappear quickly as the grills get loaded and fired up.  Experienced teams often grab one bag more than you need because trying to get charcoal later in the day can be like pulling teeth.  I'm guilty of doing it. The downside is, if every team hordes coal, it creates an artificial shortage.  It's a fine balance and I know the organizers struggle with how to meet the need without wasting money.  Because money wasted on coal is money that doesn't go to the benefiting charity.

Green Egg Wizard getting ready for the crowds.

Smoke on the Dock BBQ doing their final preparations before the gates open.

I like the early mornings before the gates open.  It gives us cooks a chance to say hello and catch up on what's been going on since the last Eggfest.

Everybody on Nibble Me This is on Pickle Duty!  Time to stuff 960 pickles in one hour.
What are the pink shirts about?  The Eggfest organizers instituted a new rule this year that teams are limited to 4 cooks or less.  I've seen that at a few other Eggfests too.

Since teams are limited to 4 people and we had 8 - 4 men and 4 ladies, we split into Nibble Me This headed up by me and Nibble Me Sis headed up by my sister.

We decided to have some fun with this and have a little friendly wager.

Back of the Nibble Me Sis shirts.

Back of the Nibble Me This shirt.
Back to the other teams....Once the crowds hit the gates, things get a bit hectic and crazy.

Teamwork is vital.  There are a few one-man shows but with 5000 guests, it takes a team to put out that much food.

I'm just hoping there are shorts behind those aprons ;) 

These guys brought our team samples and while I didn't try it (I don't eat anything at these events, I have no appetite), several team members said the teriyaki hanger steak was legit.

Like I gets a bit crazy.

John Churey's team, Risk It For The Brisket It always has a lot of fun during the day.  

I love that so many teams get team shirts these days, it adds a lot of personality to the event. 

I did a bad job of remembering team names this year but this paella looked really good and the skillet serving dishes?  Get outta here!  I love those.

Churrasco Trio had a killer taco.  

How fun are their shirts?

Chad Romzek of Kick Ash Basket and John Youngblood of JJ George were busy showing off their products all day.

Southbound Smokeworks (aka Southbound Rob) always gives us a run for our money.  Sometimes they beat us, sometimes we beat them.  But we always have a great time and serve delicious food when we compete against each other.  It's fun having such quality cook teams to push you to do better.

Captain Ron Dimpflmaier served a good looking pulled pork and pimento cheese slider.

I can't help it.....Baaaaaaaaby shark do do do do do (I'm sure they didn't hear that 20 times on Saturday).

Smoke on the Dock BBQ's crispy wontons, I've seen a few variations of this at the Pensacola Eggfest and liked them a great deal.

Craig Tabor shared an amazing array of "go big or go home" dishes.

One of the first Eggers that I met online when I first got my Egg was Pat aka Florida Poolman.  He was always such a helpful and polite guy and I'm proud to call him a friend.  If he isn't cooking on his own team, he is helping someone else.   Look at those beef rib roasts!  

These short ribs are ridonkulous!

Frenched beef shanks, a luscious but underutilized cut of beef.

This paella holds the equivalent of 1.76 Olympic swimming pools.  Don't fact check me there.

Slow roasting five half-tenderloins on a large Egg with an Adjustable Rig.

Fun fact - One full-sized steam pan of corn will fill an XL Egg.  This corn was slathered with a compound butter before grilling.

Jordan's Drunk Pickles underway.  The tricky part is cooking them upright so the stuffing doesn't melt and leak out.  Aluminum muffin tins work perfectly.

Rhonda and I split leadership duties for the team overall (planning, procurement, etc) but when Eggfest day comes, Carson is the head cook.  He makes sure the Eggs are on target, is always looking at what needs to be cooked next and he keeps the food coming.  

Mexican Street Corn is always a favorite just because people get a bit "meated out" from eating so much meat during the day.

Jordan's Drunk Pickles - I wonder if someone at the credit card company is worried about us when they see us ordering a thousand shot glasses from time to time.

Double checking the remote probe thermometer with a nice, pink Thermapen.

Samples of the most tender, mouth-watering smoked beef tenderloin with red wine reduction sauce.

After a long day of slinging food with our friends and family, Nibble Me This won 2nd place in People's Choice.  
You might think this was us celebrating, but this was just our "Jello Shot" break at the end of the day.  We couldn't hear the PA system at our team booth and we actually never heard the awards announcements, so we missed it.  Since I didn't get any pictures, I borrowed a few from @bar_b_chu 

Congratulations to Risk It For The Brisket for winning two years in a row!

I never got any of their brisket bowls but I'd smash a few of these, they are loaded with some of my favorite flavors.

Back at the house we grilled the small side roasts from the tenderloins and served it with baked potatoes and grilled asparagus because you know.....we hadn't grilled enough already ;)

Sean and I "arguing" with Nibble Me Sis over who actually won our side bet.  There were allegations of the boxes being switched, votes blowing away in the wind, and votes being miscounted but we still paid the $250 to Candlelighters :) 

We sat on the dock, reminiscing and telling stories like it was the last night of Summer camp.  Until next year.....