Every year since 2005, the great minds behind the food at the Fair have competed for the Big Tex Choice Awards. Last year, Fried Thanksgiving Dinner, created by Justin Martinez, won Most Creative, and the Best Tasting food item was awarded to Issac Russo for his creation, the Fried Cuban Roll.
This year’s 8 finalists have been announced, and you’ll see descriptions of the items below. The judging panel includes Tiffany Derry, entrepeneur and tv host; Donovan Lewis of Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket; Cynthia Smoot, a Dallas lifestyle blogger; Daniel Vaughn, Barbecue Editor at Texas Monthly magazine; and one lucky fairgoer who gets to join in the finger-licking event. Hawkeye from 96.3 KSCS will emcee the event.
If you want to be first in line to taste them, grab one of the limited tickets at BigTex.com. The Awards competition will be held on Labor Day at 10 am. State Fair tickets are discounted through August 31, and proceeds from the Awards ceremony will be donated to the Texas Youth Scholarship Fund.
Without further ado, this year’s categories are once again Best Tasting & Most Creative. While you haven’t tasted them yet, which do you think should win Most Creative? Will you be eating them? I personally think there should be a “Best Golden-Brown Award.” They are all very golden-brown, you know?
Chicken Fried Loaded Baked Potato by Butch Benavides
Baked potato lovers, rejoice. Imagine a creamy, moist baker with butter, bacon and cheddar, which is then coated in a spiced flour and fried. Creamy on the inside and crunchy on the outside, this bad boy is served with ranch dipping sauce. This sounds like the resounding success of many a teenager’s failed culinary inventions.
Deep Fried “Breakfast for Dinner” by Edna Sutton & Tom Grace
Part burrito, part breakfast platter, definitely deep-fried. A 10″ flour tortilla is stuffed with 8 favorite breakfast items: scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, bacon, potatoes, cheddar cheese, onion, ham, and gooey cinnamon roll bits. Then this large fellow gets deep-fried until golden brown and served with country gravy, salsa and pico-queso dip. It’s like the chimichanga of a hangover’s dreams.
Deep Fried Texas Bluebonnet by Isaac Rousso
Breakfast and dessert mixed together is always a win-win. This finalist starts with a blueberry muffin made of scone-style batter that is stuffed with cream cheese, blueberries and sweet morsels of white chocolate. It is baked, then deep-fried to that golden hue that signals incoming chest pain. But of course that’s not the end of the story. The topping consists of whipped cream, chopped white chocolate morsels, powdered sugar, blueberries, and blueberry glaze.
Fried Gulf Shrimp Boil by Clint Probst
If you’ve ever had a real shrimp boil, you know that it’s not complete without tons of lemon, red potatoes and onions. The creator of this concoction takes all those crucial ingredients, rolls them into a ball around a cocktail shrimp, dusts them with Fish Fry, and fries them to that crunchy goldenness that all fair food strives to achieve. The tail of the shrimp is kindly left sticking out for you to hold on to, and the balls are served with remoulade sauce.
Fried Sriracha Balls by Mark Zable
For those who like a little sriracha with their Tex-Mex, there is something fried for you too. Shredded chicken, corn, green chilies, tomatoes and sriracha are formed into balls and coated with tortilla chips, then flash-fried until golden. Extra sriracha is available if it’s not toasty enough for you.
Fried Sweet Texas by Justin Martinez
Texas is pretty full of great desserts. We really, really like pie in this state. That’s the inspiration for this sweet fried treat – 3 Texas desserts. Fresh pie dough is filled with crunchy pecan pie, fresh peach cobbler and creamy buttermilk pie. Then, you guessed it, that baby gets deep-fried until golden and flaky, and served with Texan Blue Bell vanilla ice cream. This dessert might just make you pass out, or give you a sugar rush. Maybe don’t go on the Tilt-A-Whirl after this one?
Original State Fair Brew – Funnel Cake Ale by Justin Martinez
The only non-deep-fried item in the running is only for grown-ups (21+). But don’t worry – it still tastes fried. A little toasty, a little sweet, this English-style summer ale has notes of natural vanilla to emulate the most revered of fair food: funnel cake. For those seeking to satisfy the inner kid, you can have your glass rimmed with powdered sugar.
Twisted Texas Tacos by Christi Erpillo
The mastermind behind these tacos aimed to marry the “four major food groups of Texas”: chicken-fried things, barbecue, Tex-Mex and chili. She takes hickory-smoked Texas beef brisket and double-dips it in barbecue-spiced buttermilk batter and deep fries it. It’s nestled in a warm flour tortilla, layered with Mexican cheeses, crispy fried okra, tri-color crunchy slaw, and poblano/sweet pepper corn. It also comes with country gravy, spicy Texas Chili and a miniature Lone Star flag. This sounds like so much food, and so much Texas. If you could eat Texas, it might be this. Okra, gravy, chili, tacos, brisket…it’s pretty much the epitome.