Food has been at the heart of the State Fair of Texas since the gates first opened in 1886. Since 2005, each year State Fair concessionaires cook up tasty and unique foods for a chance to become a finalist in the Big Tex Choice Awards. In 2013, the Big Tex Choice Awards winners were chosen from eight finalists. 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.
A group of contestants presented their creations to the State Fair of Texas in August. The field has been narrowed to eight. A panel of prestigious judges will pick winners in the two categories – Best Tasting & Most Creative. Here are this year’s finalists in the Big Tex Choice Awards who will compete for the titles of Best Tasting and Most Creative:
Chicken Fried Loaded Baked Potato by Butch Benavides
The creamy and moist insides of a baked potato, loaded with generous amounts of butter, bacon, and cheddar cheese, are coated and battered with a delectable blend of spices and flour that create a perfect combination of fried crispy crust and delicious, creamy loaded baked potato. Served with a ranch dipping sauce.
Deep Fried “Breakfast for Dinner” by Edna Sutton & Tom Grace
A twist on a favorite American dinner–“Breakfast for Dinner.” This is a 10″ flour tortilla stuffed with eight favorite breakfast items – scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, bacon, potatoes, ham, onion, cheddar cheese and gooey cinnamon roll bits – that are deep fried until golden brown and served with a creamy country gravy, salsa and a pico-queso dip.
Deep Fried Texas Bluebonnet by Isaac Rousso
The Deep Fried Texas Bluebonnet is a blueberry muffin, scone-style batter that is stuffed with cream cheese, blueberries and sweet morsels of white chocolate. It is baked and deep fried to a perfect golden brown. This mountain of flavor is topped off with whipped cream, chopped white chocolate morsels, powdered sugar, blueberries, and a delicious blueberry glaze.
Fried Gulf Shrimp Boil by Clint Probst
Everything you would expect in a shrimp boil rolled into a ball, dusted with Fish Fry, and fried to a golden brown! Baby gulf shrimp, diced red potatoes, onion, lemon, and seasoning are formed around a cocktail shrimp, dusted and fried with the tail sticking out for a handle. Served with a remoulade sauce.
Fried Sriracha Balls by Mark Zable
A lip-smacking combination of shredded chicken, corn, green chilies, tomatoes, and Sriracha hot sauce, formed into balls and coated with crispy tortilla chips. It is then flash-fried until golden brown. For those who like their food higher on the Scoville Scale, extra Sriracha Sauce is available.
Fried Sweet Texas by Justin Martinez
Traveling across Texas to try the best and most popular desserts gave inspiration for this fried treat. Fried Sweet Texas starts with fresh pie dough filled with crunchy pecan pie, juicy peach cobbler, and creamy buttermilk pie. It is then deep fried until the crust is golden brown and flaky, and then served up with a side of Texas’ own Blue Bell Vanilla Ice Cream. A real tribute to Texans and their amazing sweet treats!
Original State Fair Brew – Funnel Cake Ale by Justin Martinez
A light and delicious ale brewed to be reminiscent of one of the telltale flavors of the State Fair – FUNNEL CAKE! This refreshing English style summer ale has been brewed to be ready and crisp, with just the right amount of toastiness and sweetness, finishing with delicate notes of natural vanilla; all great flavors you find in a perfectly executed funnel cake. For those whose taste buds call for a sweeter finish, take advantage of the option to have the rim of your cup coated with powdered sugar. Must be 21 years of age.
Twisted Texas Tacos by Christi Erpillo
What do you get when you combine the four major food groups of Texas? Chicken Fried, Barbecue, Tex-Mex, and Chili – Twisted Texas Tacos! This taco starts off with tender, juicy hickory smoked Texas beef brisket, double-dipped in a barbecue spiced buttermilk batter and deep fried until it is robust and beefy. It is served in a warm flour tortilla, generously layered with a Mexican cheese blend, crispy fried okra, and a sweet and crunchy tri-color slaw, accented with zesty poblano and sweet pepper corn. Served with a creamy country gravy, spicy Texas Chili and a miniature salute from the Lone Star flag.