With summertime in full swing, Brent and I have been firing back up our Big Green Egg every night we can. So when fellow MyRecipes.com staffer and Big Green Egg owner Jessica Snead and her husband, Joel, let us know that the 1st Annual Birmingham Eggfest was happening on June 8th, we were very excited. Brent and I had attended the Georgia Mountain Eggfest in Hiawassee, GA last May, and had a great time. Plus, not only was the the first Eggfest to be held in Birmingham, but it was also a cook-off competition and would benefit a wonderful local charity - Easter Seals of Birmingham - which assists adults and children with disabilities to improve their quality of life. Great food, great friends, and a great cause - what wasn't to love? At first we all just considered attending, but quickly committed to cooking as "Team Hashpound," along with our friends Chad Messina and Brooke Layton.
The week of the event, we all met up for a test cookout and decided on a few must-haves, including Strawberry Pound Cake, Jalapeno Poppers, and Easy Grilled Bruschetta. A trip to Costco on Thursday night landed us a bunch more items on the menu, and before we knew it, it was 6 am on Saturday and time to start loading up the Eggs, food, and supplies!
The morning started off slow and relaxed, with the official "Lighting of the Eggs" (an Eggfest tradition) at 9 am, and team members from the 16 teams meeting each other, exchanging ideas, etc. We ended up having 3 Eggs - one demo Egg loaned out by ABSCO Fireplace & Patio (a local Big Green Egg dealer) and our two Eggs as well. This allowed us to dedicate one Egg to cooking two Boston butts that would be ready for judging in the afternoon, and then have one Egg available for "medium-length" cooking and baking our pound cake, and another for quick & easy dishes.
The guys planned to man the Eggs while us ladies prepped the food under our tent and got ready to serve the dishes.
Once folks started arriving at the festival, things got CRAZY. None of us ladies had ever worked in a restaurant before, and I think this is the closest I will ever come to it. It was one of the hardest and most tiring - yet most fun - days ever! We were whipping out the bruschetta, jalapeño poppers, and chicken tacos (with homemade mango salsa) as fast as we could - which wasn't fast enough!
Once the chicken tacos were gone, we put the leftover chicken on Hawaiian rolls topped with homemade barbecue sauce, and used more Hawaiian rolls for the pork once it was ready.
One of the wonderful things about this Eggfest was that it was very family-friendly. Easter Seals arranged for two moonwalks (including a Mickey Mouse one, which our 4 year old daughter LOVED) and face painting for the kids, and beer tasting from a local brewery, live music, and an organic veggie stand for the adults. There was plenty of room to spread out and walk around, and while our daughter was one of the few children at the Eggfest last year, it was hard to spot tasters without children at this Eggfest. All around it was a wonderful atmosphere, and event coordinator Allison Nichols and the rest of her team did a great job putting on the festival.
As the afternoon wore on, we put Brooke's strawberry pound cake on an Egg to bake, and folks kept coming around asking about it. Apparently the word had gotten out!
Baking a pound cake on the Egg gives it an addictive sweet 'n' smoky flavor. Brooke topped the cake with a strawberry-raspberry coulis and homemade whipped cream, which was to die for. The cake was gone in minutes; luckily Brent and Joel had thought to make tasting plates for the judges ahead of time, so we were able to save them a piece before it disappeared.
Once the judges came through, our energy was beginning to give out, but we managed to throw some tilapia on the Egg and served the last round of tasters with fish tacos and the BBQ pork on crackers. Per ABSCO's instruction, we shut down our Eggs around 4, and gathered around a huge inflatable Big Green Egg to hear Easter Seals Executive Director David Higgins announce the winners in three categories: chicken, pork, and chef's choice.
We were so excited to win the "chef's choice" category for the jalapeño poppers! ABSCO donated $250 for each team to share to purchase more "egg-cessories," and we were all offered free entry in the 2014 Eggfest. What a fun day for everyone!
I'll be posting some of the recipes we used over the next couple of weeks, so be sure to check back for the jalapeño poppers, pound cake, bruschetta, and chicken tacos. Happy Egging!