I was introduced to White Oaks Pastures a few years ago. A friend asked me to make some finger foods with products from local gardens for a showing of “Food For Thought”. It was after the film, during a panel discussion, that I heard all about White Oaks Pastures. I learned about their sustainable farming practices and became intrigued. You see prior to the film and discussion I was pretty oblivious on farming practices. I knew there were good farm practices and bad farm practices, I just didn’t understand or know what they really were.
Fast forward to today and I can say I have become wiser and smarter. I had the pleasure of being invited to the award ceremony of Flavor of Georgia. Flavor of Georgia is a food product competition put on by the University of Georgia. It “showcases market-ready prototypes or commercially ready food products”. The contest was for producers that used products and flavors that best represented Georgia. There were several categories from beverages, sauces, snacks, meats, seafood and so much more. Who should I see as a finalist in the meat and seafood category? The fine people of White Oaks Pastures. Can I say stoked? I would get an opportunity to taste why they have won so many awards. To see first hand why they were finalist in this competition.
White Oaks Pasture entered their Grassfed Beecon Grind. Grassfed Beecon Grind? Some brilliant mind at the pasture decided to combine their grassfed beef with their naturally smoked Iberico bacon. Yes you read that right. Did they create the ultimate burger blend? If you are anything like me, you get excited when you to see a lit grill with beautiful burgers being cooked. I watched as Ban Stewart cooked up the samples. And sitting on the side table a toasted bun with a smear of mayo, topped with lettuce and tomato slice waiting patiently for the burgers to be done. I saw how my summer grilling would look. Then I got the chance to taste the Beecon Grind. No salt, no pepper added but yet it was pure deliciousness. A burger couldn’t get any better than that. I knew they would surely win in their category.
It was time for the ceremony to begin. You know this contest was a big deal because, Governor Nathan Deal came out to speak with the finalists and attendees. He spoke proudly of the representation these products bring to Georgia. After his speech it was time for the announcement of the winners in each category. I was on pins and needles when the announcement was to be made for the meat and seafood category. The winner is… Pine Street Market with their Applewood Smoked Bacon. Okay maybe I am a little biased but I felt like White Oaks Pastures should have won. They created burger heaven. All you needed to do, besides cook it, was add a slice of your favorite cheese. And BOOM….Perfect Burger! If you don’t believe me you can order some straight to your doorsteps right here .Then let me know what your thoughts are.
I did eat other things besides White Oaks Beecon Grind. I got to taste quite a few samples from the other finalists including Georgia Fried Peanuts Company Fried Peanuts, Pine Street Market Applewood Smoked Bacon, Pouch Pies The Georgia Pie, Emily G’s Datil Peach Marmalade, Two Fat Chile Cats Jamaica Me Sweat Soppin’ Sauce and so many more. I want to thank the University of Georgia and Atlanta Food and Lifestyle Bloggers Society for inviting me to attend. I had a wonderful time and look forward to next year’s event.
If you know of someone with a great product that represents Georgia send them over to the Flavor of Georgia site to see if they have what it takes to enter the competition. It could be a great way to make new memories. So go forward and make some new memories.
Until next time…
~The Chef In Pearls
What’s the first rule of fight club? Yeah, if I hadn’t already shared that I had a birthday in July I would be telling my age with that reference. That question comes from a 1999 movie titled, you guessed it . . . Fight Club. What I’m talking about is different kind of fight club. Dare I share it? In the movie, the first rule of fight club is that you don’t talk about fight club. Well since I’m all about breaking rules here and there, I think I will tell you all about Culinary Fight Club.
Culinary Fight Club is all about bragging rights. Who gets to say they won? Who gets to say they are the best amongst their peers. Wait . . . hold up: I have a confession to make. I didn’t actually go to Culinary Fight Club. What I attended was Culinary Fight Fest. A gathering that happens when you have 6-8 winners of previous Culinary Fight Club matchups and put them up against each other. In this arena the winners compete to see who will be the best of the best, top dog among champions The talent was strong in the room. There was a little bit of everything to try during the Tasters’ Choice round. Each contestant presented a dish that you were able to vote on. To cast your vote, you dropped one of the 4 tokens you received on entry into their voting box. There was no limit on how you cast your vote. If you liked them a lot you could drop all 4 in. After this initial tasting, the top four were chosen. From there the top 4 go on to compete in the final round. They are given 30 minutes and a mystery box. Brasstown Beef was the sponsor for the mystery boxes. So you guessed it . . . the boxes had beef in them. To keep the chefs on their toes they were unmarked cuts of beef, so you really had to know your stuff to compete.
The chefs came prepared to battle. They were provided with pantry items, kitchen equipment and any necessary tools to cook. However many chose to still bring things to help put them ahead of their competition. Things ranged from an old school pressure cooker all the way to river rocks. The top 4 presented wonderful dishes to be judged. But we all know the rule. There can only be one winner . . . one top dog . . . and that honor went to Josh Reeves of the River Club, located in Suwanee, GA. He walked away with a check, some cool knives and most importantly the right to brag as the winner of Culinary Fight Fest.
As always, I got to meet some pretty cool people, run into some of the usual suspects and of course make memories. Hey would you come out to support if The Chef In Pearls competed? Comment and let me know if you’d be a part of my cheering squad if I decided to join the Culinary Fight Club competition.
Until next time…
~The Chef In Pearls