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.
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 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 Lobster with Champagne Gravy by Abel Gonzales
For the first time in Big Tex Choice Awards history, lobster has made its way on the menu. Adding a flair of fair to a traditionally sophisticated dish, this seafood spread includes an entire lobster tail, breaded and deep fried to perfection. Served with a rich sauce combining lemon butter and champagne gravy, the Chicken Fried Lobster is not your typical carnival concoction. With the lavishness of a lobster dinner and the fried factor of a traditional fair food, this dish will satisfy both a fondness for fanciness and a craving for the classics.
Cowboy Corn Crunch by Isaac Rousso
In a state known for its cowboy culture, this creation captures the quintessential taste of Texas – all in one bite. A mixture of sweet corn, minced jalapeño, rich cream cheese and a hint of smoky bacon, the Cowboy Corn Crunch is the perfect blend of savory and spice. This flavorful tot is fried to a golden, crispy brown and served in a unique palm leaf cone, proving especially convenient when walking while snacking around the fairgrounds. Get your taste buds ready, the first bite will knock your boots off.
Deep Fried Alligator’s Egg Nest by Cassy Jones
Also making its Big Tex Choice Awards debut this year, alligator throws a whole new flavor into the mix. Giving fairgoers the true Cajun experience without having to travel all the way to the swamplands, the Deep Fried Alligator’s Egg Nest blends rich alligator meat with Monterey Jack cheese, chopped jalapeños, onions and garlic. This flavorful mixture is then rolled in bread crumbs and deep fried to the perfect golden brown. Served atop a “nest” of shoestring potatoes and drizzled with a chipotle sauce, this dish will make you feel like a real Cajun.
Fernie’s Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly by Christi Erpillo
Taking a unique spin on a traditional dessert, this sweet treat turns carrot cake into a heaven-filled roll. Golden-baked bread swirled with cinnamon has been flattened and filled with moist carrot cake, plump raisins and crunchy julienne carrots. Rolled with a light coating of cream cheese and then breaded in a mixture of panko, graham crackers, cinnamon and nutmeg – this is far from your typical dessert. Drizzled with cream cheese frosting and lightly dusted with powdered sugar, this divine confection is served with extra caramel on the side as well as a caramel macchiato cream sauce.
Fried Beer-Battered Buffalo by James Barrera
Sweeter and richer than the highest quality cut of beef, buffalo meat is another “first” on the Big Tex Choice Awards’ list this year. This dish takes lean ground buffalo and gives it the Texas treatment – flavored with a Mesquite smoke and rolled in Pequin chili pepper, known as our state’s official native pepper. The meat is then crusted in crushed Corn Nuts® and dipped in a batter made from Shiner Bock Beer, also native to the Lone Star State. Lightly dusted with bacon bits and served with a chipotle cream sauce, the Fried Beer-Battered Buffalo is a tiny taste of Texas.
Lone Star Pork Handle by Justin Martinez
Meat lovers are in for a treat with this hearty helping of deliciousness. The Lone Star Pork Handle takes a hand-cut bone-in pork chop, marinates it with a rich pork rub, then dips it in batter made from Texas’ own Lone Star Beer. The seasoned pork chop is then smothered in toasted bread crumbs and deep fried to a crisp, golden brown. Finished off with a coat of bourbon barbeque glaze, this savory dish will leave you nothing short of satisfied. As defined in its name, the bone serves as a handle, making this item convenient and easy to carry.
Pretzel-Crusted Pollo Queso by Allan Weiss
With a hint of Tex-Mex in both its name and its flavor, the Pretzel-Crusted Pollo Queso is just the right amount of spice. Shredded chicken is combined with a rich blend of cream cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, bacon, cilantro and Sriracha sauce. Rolled into a ball and crusted with a crispy pretzel breading, this item is then deep fried to golden perfection. Served with a jalapeño ranch dipping sauce for an extra kick, this dish is crunchy on the outside while keeping its center perfectly soft and gooey for the ultimate savory experience.
Smoky Bacon Margarita by Isaac Rousso
An unconventional pairing of flavors adds a subtle smoky taste to a traditionally tangy drink. The Smoky Bacon Margarita takes the smokiness of freshly-cooked bacon and infuses it into a frozen lime margarita. With just a hint of smoke, this drink still captures the zesty citrus flavor of a traditional margarita. Finished off with a pinch of bacon crumbles on top, this thirst-quenching drink is served in a collectible souvenir cup for an added funky flair. Sip on this refreshing beverage and cool off from the Texas heat. Contains alcohol – must be 21 years of age.
Be one of the first people to taste the food made by the finalists at the 11th Annual Big Tex Choice Awards on Sunday, August 30 at 2:30 p.m. in the historic Tower Building. Tickets are available online for $100, with a limited amount of seats available. Don’t miss out on the fun – buy your ticket now before they’re gone.