Monday, September 2, 2013

Best Fried Foods at the State Fair of Texas for 2013

Dear State Fair of Texas,

Thank you for inviting me to join you this morning to taste all of the finalists in this year's Big Tex Choice Awards. As you probably know, I am a huge fried food fan. My idea of a gourmet meal is to take anything... deep-fy it, wrap it in bacon, slather it with cheese and dip it in Ranch. Heaven on a plate! So I always look forward to the State Fair of Texas, which is known as the "The Fried Food Capital of Texas"!

I was thrilled when my personal favorite in the savory division was awarded the Big Tex Choice Award for "Most Creative". I thought that out of all of the entries, the Fried Thanksgiving Dinner was the most true to its title. It really did taste like Thanksgiving dinner! Justin and Rudy Martinez really hit a home run with this one, taking Mama's homemade stuffing and diced turkey, rolling it in a ball, dipping it in Southern cream corn, then rolling that in corn meal and deep frying it to perfection. I loved that it came with an old-fashioned giblet brown gravy and a zesty orange cranberry sauce to dip it in. I did both! Frankly, while it is creative, I thought it should have won the award for Best Taste. But a win, is a win and I understand that this little bobble head trophy can mean up to $250,000 in sales over the course of the Fair. So good for them!

Rousso clan cheers for Daddy Issac
Your "Best Taste" award to Issac Rousso for his Deep Fried Cuban Roll had me conflicted. It was so sweet to see his wife and kids go crazy when Issac's name was announced. They were so proud of their Daddy! And while it was a tasty entry, I kept thinking... it's an egg roll. And I can get egg roll's anywhere. The State Fair is known for friend foods you can't find ANYWHERE else in the world.  It tasted good (not great, but good) but the execution isn't up to my fried food standards so, I am torn on this one.

My personal favorite in the sweet division was the Golden Fried Millionaire Pie. Sweetened, fluffy cream cheese filling loaded with golden pineapple and Texas pecans then wrapped in a flaky pie crust and fried to a delicious golden brown. Topped with whipped cream , toasted coconut and candied pecans it is a mouth-watering treat!

Fried Thanksgiving Dinner
While I have your attention, can we talk about the judges? I am flabbergasted that in a city known for it's culinary culture you selected 3 judges that have nothing to do with food. I get it. You think that anyone with "Dallas Morning News" in their title is hot stuff. When I tried to get a press kit from your staff member, she asked, "What channel are you with?"  But a web guy and a columnist?!

If you are enamored with the idea of traditional media, then get Leslie Brenner or Kim Pierce. Get Nancy Nichols from D Magazine. Or break out of the box and get a celebrity name to diversify the panel and help create buzz for your event like Troy Aikman or Emmitt Smith. And what about our celebrity chefs?! Kent Rathbun, Dean Fearing, Stephan Pyles... hello!! You are so missing the boat on this.

When you hand out an award that basically gives the winner the opportunity to earn $250,000, you should get yourself some judges that can pick winning entrees based on something more than personal taste.  Call me about next year and I am happy to help you get a more qualified and interesting panel.

Other than that little hiccup, I am super excited about all of the finalists that entered new fried foods for this year's State Fair. The countdown is on to September 27 for the opening of this year's State Fair of Texas and the world's biggest fried food fest!!

Much love,

Cynthia Smoot, Oh So Cynthia