The final countdown to three of the most coveted food titles in all of Texas begins. The State Fair of Texas will announce the three 17th Annual Big Tex Choice Award winners this month.
On Sunday, Aug. 29, three winners will be crowned in the categories of: “Best Taste – Savory,” “Best Taste – Sweet,” and “Most Creative.” The competition began in early July with 43 entries represented by 26 concessionaires. Of those entries, 32 were selected as semi-finalists. Each entry was evaluated on four Fair-food elements: uniqueness, creativity, presentation, and taste.
After some tasty tests and delicious dishes, votes were cast and the results are finally in, and the top 10 finalists will present their dishes to a panel of celebrity judges.
The top 10 are:
Crispy Crazy Corn, Ruth Hauntz
Description: “Sweet whole kernel corn is individually battered, fried, and dashed with our secret seasoning. These crispy little gold nuggets alone make a great snack, but the heat turns up a notch when we add slowed-smoked pulled pork, topped with a tangy pineapple slaw, kissed with a drizzle of freshly made jalapeño crema and a generous sprinkle of fresh cilantro.”
Deep-Fried I-35, Clint and Gretchen Probst
Description: “First, we fry up our kolache dough, leaving a divot in the center for our filling. We top our fried kolache with smoked beef brisket. Our peach juice combines with the Dr. Pepper® to make a sweet and tangy BBQ glaze which we drizzle over our brisket kolache. We garnish this roadworthy concoction with peach slices and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.”
Deep-Fried Seafood Gumbo Balls, Gourmet Royale
Description: “Using a family recipe that has been handed down four generations, the base is a dark, rich, and savory roux that represents the true essence of New Orleans. The balls are then loaded with Gulf Coast shrimp, stewed chicken, blue crab meat, and andouille sausage. The balls are then rolled in our saltine cracker and breadcrumb batter, then fried, creating an explosion of flavor. The balls are served with a side of dark gumbo roux sauce for your dipping pleasure and topped with chicken fried okra spears. The dish will be served with a small bottle of hot sauce and a package of saltine crackers.”
Lucky Duck Dumplin’, Bert Concessions
Description: “A delectable pastry filled with a delicious combination of rich, fluffy cream cheese, blended with succulent duck bacon and delicately roasted sweet corn, with a sprinkling of herbs and spices. These delicately filled dumplings are dropped into the deep fryer until golden-brown and fried to crispy perfection! Both crunchy on the outside and satisfyingly creamy on the inside, with a pleasing balance of salty and sweet that is sure to tickle the taste buds. Three Lucky Duck Dumplin’s are served alongside a sweet and gently spicy Thai chili glaze for dipping, finished with a sprinkling of fresh basil and nestled in a small hand-held tray.”
Pork Shots, Glen and Sherri Kusak at Hans Mueller
Description: “This new Fair favorite starts with Texas best-smoked sausage at the base of this shot. We wrap the sausage with delicious hickory smoked bacon which forms a tiny bowl, and this savory tastebud-teaser is filled with everyone’s favorite – creamy mac and cheese. We sprinkle the outside with a secret sweet, spicy BBQ rub to finalize this perfect Fair-food-to-share item.”
The Armadillo, James Barrera
Description: The Armadillo “is a made-from-scratch cookie butter semifreddo – an Italian take on ice cream that means semi-frozen. The treat is drizzled with cookie butter and sandwiched between two deep-fried Armadillo-shaped cookies that are made with a branding iron. Finally, it is dusted with buttery sugar.”
Brisket Brittle, Ruth Hauntz
Description: “This confectionary delight has the rich, buttery, crunchy, sweet deliciousness of an old-fashion peanut brittle. We have, however, replaced the peanuts with the smokey goodness of Texas brisket.”
Deep-Fried Halloween, Isaac Rousso
Description: “Our trick-or-treat experience starts with a delicious large chewy pretzel that is dropped in the fryer. As it becomes golden brown, we quickly bathe it in candy corn syrup, followed by some rainbow sprinkles and powdered sugar. Now the fun begins – piping in orange and white buttercream icing, then stacking some of our most favorite Halloween candies, like M&M’s®, Reese’s® Pieces, Mini-Twix®, OREO® cookie crumbles, and candy corn just to name a few. Topped with a delicious marshmallow whip cream and a Reese’s® Peanut Butter Cup as the crown, we put the final touches of Hershey’s chocolate syrup caramel sauce and candy corn drizzle on this beautiful desert.”
Fernie’s Fried Toffee Coffee Crunch Cake, Winter Family Concessions
Description: “We start with lightly glazed, old-fashioned cake donuts and break them into chunks, highlighting their firm, slightly crunchy exterior, and soft cakelike interior. Next, we add a generous scoop of buttery baking morsels flavored with rich English toffee and crunchy almonds and the mixture is blended with a velvety custard. The donut’s cracked, craggy surface absorbs the creamy custard, creating a bread pudding-like consistency which is set in a ring mold. The cakes are dipped in an egg product and covered in panko and vanilla cookie crumbs, then quickly fried to a golden brown with a crunchy exterior and a gooey butter cake center! Alternatively, you might also get bites of little rivers or crunchy nuggets of toffee. It is served on a plate with a light dusting of powdered sugar and sprinkled with more toffee bits and a dollop of trendy, frothy mocha coffee whipped cream. Regular whipped cream is available for non-coffee drinkers (but we encourage you to try the mocha cream – everyone knows donuts go with coffee!). It is topped off with a miniature chocolate covered toffee bar.”
Texas Pumpkin Poke Cake, Michelle Edwards
Description: “A Texas-shaped, decadent pumpkin cake with a finger-licking, gooey vanilla glaze, silky caramel, topped with fluffy whipped cream, and lightly sprinkled with secret spice.”
This year’s Big Tex Choice Awards event will be closed to the public. Like many businesses across the world, our vendors endured financial hardships through the COVID-19 pandemic, and this small change will help them focus all their efforts on having a successful 2021 State Fair. You can stay up to date with the 2021 Big Tex Choice Awards event by following the action on social media – @StateFairofTX.
The 2021 State Fair of Texas will open on Friday, Sept. 24, and will run through Sunday, Oct, 17. Head to BigTex.com/Tickets for tickets and more information.