DALLAS — It's the final chowdown!
After weeks of eating and judging, the 10 finalists have been announced for the Big Tex Choice Awards food competition.
The contest started off with 51 entries. Each dish went through a "blind judging" from start to finish, meaning the judges didn't eat the food or learn about who made them.
That whittled the food fight down to 36 contenders that actually needed to be eaten. Ten dishes needed to taste as good as they sound in order to get to the final round at the Big Tex Choice Awards ceremony.
The options were judged on at least four categories: Uniqueness, Presentation, Creativity, and Taste. The judges then had to support their choices against the question, "How likely is a fairgoer going to buy it?"
All of the option have been divided into two categories: Savory and Sweet. Five dishes from each category are now in the running for the number one spot.
Below are the winners - and the descriptions - courtesy of the State Fair of Texas. We'll add pictures as we get them!
Chicharron Explosion Nachos, Glen & Sherri Kusak
Fresh pork rinds are fried to a golden crispy crunch and then seasoned with just the right number of Cajun-style seasonings to insure a mouthwatering kick. Next, smoked beef fajita meat is spread all over the crispy nachos and covered with delectable freshly made queso. To make this an explosion of flavor, these chicharron nachos are topped with a full serving of savory barbeque chopped beef.
Deep Fried BLT, Tom Grace
Crunch into the simple pleasure of the Deep Fried BLT! Crispy bacon is folded into a 12” tortilla along with a heaping pile of shredded cheddar cheese to bind all the corners. The rectangle-shaped tortilla gets dunked into the deep fryer, just long enough to get a golden-brown crunch and a melted bliss of cheddar and bacon. Then, the deep-fried goodness is used as the sandwich bread by cutting it in half and layering cool crisp lettuce, two juicy red tomato slices, and mayonnaise in between. To top it off, the fried creation is paired with fresh-cut garlic parmesan chips for a truly notorious B.L.T!
Deep Fried Lasagna Roll, Parish Family
Ribbon pasta is covered with the perfect mixture of ricotta, parmesan, provolone, and fresh mozzarella cheeses, then topped with an amazing homemade meat sauce. Next, more cheese is added and the past is delicately hand-rolled, creating delicious layers of flavor. The lasagna roll is dipped in a cheddar and herb batter and fried golden brown, creating a crispy yet flaky crust. The roll is then garnished with a touch of marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil, creating a mouthwatering burst of flavor. Served with a side of Deep Fried Zucchini Fries, this dish gives you a taste of Italy with a Texas twist!
Fried Charcuterie Board, Tami Nevins-Mayes & Josey Mayes
Meats, cheeses, fruits – oh my! Chopped-up fresh mozzarella, salami, and crisp green apples are tossed in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Italian herbs. Then the ingredients are wrapped in a wonton wrapper and fried to a golden crisp, topped with creamy goat cheese and a drizzle of hot honey. Everyone's favorite appetizer rolled into one perfect bite!
Holy Biscuit, Isaac Rousso
This mouth-watering southern explosion starts with a perfectly cooked golden-brown biscuit. Then, slow-smoked shredded brisket and ladle fire-roasted street corn queso is stacked on top of the biscuit. Then, thick-cut bacon is drizzled with Texas honey with a little bit of kick. The masterpiece is complete when it’s topped off with crispy pickle French fries. Your taste buds will go crazy with the savory-sweet crunchy combination of flavors all in one bite.
Cha-Cha Chata, Garza Family
Sidestep all the others ‘cause it’s finally here - the milkshake that will make you Cha-Cha Chata all night long! Inspired by the cha-cha dance, the recipe starts with a triple-step of two kinds of milk and vanilla ice cream blended to perfection with the Garza family’s top-secret (but famously delicious) horchata recipe. The creamy drink is then poured into a cup rimmed with caramel and cinnamon goodness and topped with a Texas-sized dollop of whipped topping. To bring even more flavor to your tastebuds, the Cha-Cha Chata is dusted with crushed candy, a sprinkle of cinnamon galletas de gragega, and deep-fried arroz con leche bites. Take hold of the churro straw and take a sip, we promise it will cha-cha change your life!
Deep Fried Rocky Road with Blue Bell Ice Cream®, Cody & Lauren Hays
The wait is over – Deep Fried Rocky Road is here! Rocky Road Kettle Fresh Fudge is coated with fluffy, lightly sweetened batter and deep-fried to perfection, stacked high, and drizzled with chocolate syrup and sweetened condensed milk. Mini marshmallows and chopped cinnamon glazed nuts are sprinkled atop with powdered sugar. The dish is accompanied by a single-serve ice cream cup of Blue Bell Ice Cream® Homemade Vanilla.
La Bluebonnet, Milton & Grace Whitley
This decadent drink is inspired by iconic Texas bluebonnets which have served as a natural photo backdrop for many memorable life moments. Freshly squeezed citrus juices and blueberries are folded into a sugary base and then shaken well to achieve the perfect balance of sweet and tart. Then, the tasty concoction is poured over refreshing ice and topped with an optional lemon-mint-berry twist.
Peanut Butter Paradise, Chris Easter & Nicole Sternes
Man cannot live by bread alone - he must have peanut butter. Peanut Butter Paradise starts with deep-frying a honey bun. Then, caramel is injected into the honey bun and then topped with creamy peanut butter. The treat is then layered with some fan-favorite peanut butter treats, Reese's Pieces, Crushed Butterfinger crumbles, topped off with peanut butter cups, drizzled caramel, and a cloud of powdered sugar. Just another day in paradise!
The Ultimate Brookie Monster, Juan & Brent Reaves
The Ultimate Brookie Monster is the ultimate in dessert decadence. It’s like a dessert hall of fame party on one saucer. It starts with crispy, chewy chocolate chip cookies, layered with Oreos and marshmallows. Then, the creation is covered in triple-chocolate brownie batter and baked together into a super brookie. The fun begins when the brookie is then battered and deep fried. Then, the super brookie is showered in powdered sugar, and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. To finish, it is topped with cheesecake crumbles and strawberry sauce.
On Sunday, August 28, three winners will be crowned in the categories of: “Best Taste – Savory,” “Best Taste – Sweet,” and “Most Creative.”
If your favorite dish from the semifinalist list didn't make it to the finals, remember that the concessionaires can still bring it to their stand as a "new food" this year.
The 2022 State Fair of Texas will run from Sept. 30 through Oct. 23.
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Note: The following video was uploaded on July 7