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BBQ Outfitters Big Green Egg Festival

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Wow. For those of you who missed it, consider yourselves dodging a bullet.

We thought it would be fun and hey, it was only $25 and went for a good cause. Woof, we we mistaken.

Thank goodness we brought our own beer because the line for the "free beer" advertised snaked through the whole park and moved very, very slowly.

I can only suspect how they got the "contestants" as (and I may be wrong on this) the appearance of the interior (and exterior) of every egg being used was smoke-free-crystal-clean and the smoke wafting through the grounds was distinctly synthetic and off-putting.

However, we forged ahead and began to sample the food. Good-gawd! Things went from "church social" bbq with store bought cold tortillas and sticky sweet pulled pork to "Was that an old paperback book I just ate?" to "Holy crap. Where can I spit this out?!" I was even served little shrimp egg rolls where I bit into the dark-brown crust only to find I'd just bit into a cold, raw shrimp.

We did have an amusing "bright spot" when we found out Aaron Franklin was going to be giving a demo on an egg. We thought, well that's an odd person to pick for this, but never-the-less, he's bound to do something wonderful. Hehe...he used it like a "Webber" and got the coals screaming-hot and oiled, salted and peppered this godzilla steak and turned the pavilion into a giant (great smelling) smoke bomb! The Egg people standing behind him were so uncomfortable, it make us giggle. I bet that was still a damn-fine steak...

Needless to say, we gave up after a while and went to lunch elsewhere. And all of us ended up with some form of tummy trouble late last night and today.

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  1. I don't know where they get the "contestants" but the Eggs are provided and passed out by BGE and fired up about 8:am and the festival opens at 10:am at which time your food must be mostly ready to serve. So there's no actual smoking/barbecuing you can do in just 2-3 hours. Might as well just use Webers. These Eggfests are held all over the country, courtesy of BGE. Not a very good way to show them off, IMO.

    -sw

    14 Replies
    1. re: sqwertz

      I just looked at a couple of the event pages and it looks like the Eggs are sold at the end of at least some of the events, "at a substantial discount rate".

      -sw

      1. re: sqwertz

        We were thinking of getting one before we went (which is why we decided to go) and we were completely turned off by them by the time we left. Counter-productive; no?

        1. re: amysuehere

          What turned you off? A poorly run event doesn't have anything to do with the quality of the grill

          1. re: Rptrane

            As stated above, nothing good came out of any of the tastings. It didn't seem to smoke or fire anything well. The only time it seemed to put out anything worthwhile was when Aaron used it essentially as you would any Weber grill.

            1. re: amysuehere

              FWIW, they are highly regarded in the smoking/barbecue communities, although expensive. But as it was, they were just using them as glorified grills.

              Cabo Bob's, one of the demonstrators at the event, uses them in his restaurant but I don't think he smokes anything with them - just grills and [maybe] roasts.

              How much were they selling for at the end of the event?

              -sw

              1. re: sqwertz

                Don't know. Left way before the end. However, before we arrived, we really thought we'd leave with one. I do know a lot of people seem to love them.

                What I really think I want is my San Marcus smoker, only more insulated, somehow. If it's cold, wet, or windy, I can't keep a consistent heat.

                1. re: amysuehere

                  For the same price or maybe less than a new egg at 995 bucks, Southside in Elgin sells what looks and feels like a brick shiite-house of a smoker that I've slowly been converting from dream to reality every time I go there. It must weigh several hundred pounds (yes, it's on wheels) and can be pulled by a couple portly adults around decent terrain, but getting it on and off a truck is, according to their meat counter fellow du jour, another multi-he-man matter. They give you like a dozen pounds of their sausage to go ahead and kick start the seasoning process once you get it home. The guage is really thick and heavy, with an offset box and a two door smoking chamber. dreamy equipment for a normal back yard and could probably cook for 40 folks easy. I haven't found anything remotely that heavy for near that price anywhere.

                  1. re: slowcoooked

                    That sounds far too big for us - the most we cook for is 4 (mostly just us two).

                    This may sound crazy, but what about spray on fire protection for buildings sprayed on the smoker part of the grill (not the side fire pan)?

                    1. re: amysuehere

                      yeah, this thing has the footprint of three weber gas grills probably.

                    2. re: slowcoooked

                      What separates ceramic cookers from the pack are the incredible insulating qualities of the ceramics which result in:

                      1. Outstanding temperature retention even in ambient temps well below freezing. I have done many an overnight smoke where the temp went from 40 degrees to single digits with no temp change in the egg.

                      2. Extremely low fuel consumption. Around 18 hrs unattended at 225 degrees on one load of lump, even in the dead of winter.

                      3. The ability to roast at typical roasting temps with an incredibly low moisture loss. Less heat leaving the cooking chamber = less fresh dry heat in = less drying of the meat.

                      4. The ability to cook wood fired breads and high temp items like wood fired pizza.

                      5. The ability to sear steaks over lump at over a 1000 degrees with incredible kiln like radiating qualities and then snuff the flame for an even oven finish.

                      6. Extremely easy learning curve. Very close to set it and forget it.

                      ****I doubt very much that the average smoker can do all the above let alone excel at them. Ceramics are not large production cookers but they do a lot of things extremely well with very little work****

                      1. re: Tom34

                        As I said above, the whole reason we went is because of passionate cooks who have stated they love their eggs for their abilities.

                        However, it's a pity that none of the wonderful qualities and flavors of what you stated above were even remotely highlighted. Aaron's smoke bomb steak was the only one, but we didn't get to taste that and the smoke he produced would be having the neighbors sic the authorities on me every time.

                        1. re: amysuehere

                          Thats a shame the event was a bust.

                          IMHO, any type of smoker can produce a good finished product when starting with good ingredients & smoking experience. The ceramic cookers dramatically reduce the need for experience and attention during the cook.

                          1. CERAMICS vs. STEEL: Steel is a good conductor of heat and therefore heat passed through it very efficiently and a significant amount of fresh heat must be constantly introduced into the steel cooking chamber to maintain proper temps. Hot air craves moisture and will take it from anything in its path, especially the food in the cooking chamber. Ceramics are insulators / poor conductors of heat and the cooking chambers require very little additional heat once cooking temps are reached. Less need for fresh heat, less moisture loss from the food & less fuel consumed. The insulating qualities also allow for smoking during the dead of winter in extremely cold climates.

                          2. EASE OF USE: As a result of the heat retention qualities mentioned above, very little attention is needed during the cook. Pretty much set it and forget it. This is hardly the case with most retail wood/charcoal fired steel smokers.

                          3. VERSATILITY: Most designated smokers are single function units. They smoke! As stated elsewhere, ceramic cookers are also great for baking, standard grilling & extreme high temp cooking & searing. Haven't been to a steak house in years.

                          ***To be fair, ceramics cookers do have downsides. They are expensive, heavy & capacity is limited.***

                2. re: amysuehere

                  High quality ingredients in the hands of someone who knows what to do with them and has the proper prep & cook time are key regardless of what they are cooked on.

                  1. re: Tom34

                    Agreed. A fine cut of beef, some salt, pepper and walnut oil and a smokin' hot cast iron skillet produce a wonderful flavor bomb.

        2. I went to an eggfest with a friend last year out at the Iguana Grill on 620 and it was actually a pretty good time. The food did vary a bit with the skills of the folks who cooked and I sampled things I both liked and disliked. I think some folks try to stand out by cooking things that aren't necessarily suited for a grill (like the eggrolls you mentioned).

          Last year at least there was no line for beverages and I think the only thing we had to wait for was face painting for the kiddo and then a pretty long wait after the event for my friend to pick up the egg he bought at the end of the day. I think they gave them out in registration order and he decided he wanted an egg last minute. I want to say it was $35/person last year so maybe they had more folks working the beverage service?

          As for the egg itself it seemed to be pretty decent quality heavy ceramic. I helped disassemble it and load it into a truck and then set it up again on the other end. I've had some good brisket cooked on it at my friend's house over the past year, but I know he added a computer-controlled fan contraption to it to control the temperature.

          1. If I had the $$$ and was really into grillin' n' smokin' I would get one. A guy I worked with years ago was always talking about his BIL who had one and how efficient and cost effective they were. He finally bought one for around 900- and loved it. It is a very tight fit cover and you get very reliable results as the ceramic contains the heat well and is self cleaning. It also doesn't require much charcoal or wood because the bottom is smaller. It's almost burn proof because it's very deep. When you're done you can close the lid, the fire will extinguish and you can reuse charcoal or wood later. If I'm correct the way they advertise is that if you use your BGE 2-3x a week the investment pays for itself within a year in terms of fuel costs. I know that a lot of pros use them as well. I use to be a fanatic on the grill and after a few years hiatus I am slowly getting back into it. I just don't like my current grill.
            OK I'm sold.

            1 Reply
            1. re: crippstom

              Sounds like, through writing this post, you talked yourself into it!

            2. Along this subject does anyone have any experience with those pellet smokers? I see that at Costco and I'm very curious. They are electric but burn wood pellets. You can choose your heat that way and get smoke..

              4 Replies
              1. re: Rptrane

                In case you've not been, BBQ Mercantile on Burnet (just a few blocks north of 45th street) has a very nice selection of them and the owner ran through a very thorough sounding pitch on their features for us a few months ago. They sound awesome. One of them is essentially a big green egg that uses pellets http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGZe4m.... Even if you buy the Costco one, I couldn't imagine anyone in town having a lot more knowledge to give you than those folks on the pellet grills / smokers. they are just expensive - at least the good ones are. And the pellets aren't cheap either. But the features sure align with my tendency to prefer sleep over adding wood to a fire every 1-2 hours. Benefits of wood grilling / smoking with the features of a nice oven.

                1. re: slowcoooked

                  "But the features sure align with my tendency to prefer sleep over adding wood to a fire every 1-2 hours. Benefits of wood grilling / smoking with the features of a nice oven"

                  (Dead of winter, 40 degree day, teens to single digits at night) .....6 pm: Load BGE with full load of lump. Light, allow to stabilize at 225 degrees, place food in, wait 1/2 hr, fine tune damper, go to bed 9pm, wake up 7am, temp holding steady at 225.

                  1. re: Tom34

                    I've heard the downsides of the heavy ceramic BGE type grills is a tendency to need a lot of time to cool down if they get really hot. what's the best way to deal with that?

                    1. re: slowcoooked

                      I have never had mine get to hot during a smoke.

                      Limited opening of the lid during the smoke is recommended, maybe every 1/2 hr for basting if that is your thing. I suppose if somebody kept opening it, say every 10 minutes and introduced fresh air to the burning fuel the temps could rise temporarily but soon after the lid is closed the limited air flow through the dampers should bring the fuel burn rate & temp right back down. Why somebody would constantly open the lid is a mystery though.

                      After high temp searing, it takes about 10 minutes or so to get back down to roasting / finishing temps.

              2. I love my Green Egg!!
                In fact I was gifted it after I was lucky enough to have done a demonstration at a Eggfest a few years ago. It was a blast! Perhaps it has grown too much.
                I made lobster pizza...

                 
                1. i had a bge once. i hated it. couldnt get the thing hot enough. (i know its supposed to be easy but i had no end of trouble)
                  finally sold it and got a weber genesis

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: rdking647

                    What did you use as fuel?......Royal Oak Lump gets my BGE to 1000 degrees every time, never an issue.

                  2. That certainly is a scathing review, and a great shame you didn't enjoy yourself. I was there, taking photographs. The food - overall - was pretty good, and the teams were certainly having a great time cooking and enjoying themselves. A point to note - the majority of the Eggs are pre-sold (at a discount) to customers who pick them up from the event. That's why the teams are cooking on new Eggs. The top three teams get Eggs as prizes, so a good incentive to show up and cook. As a disclaimer of sorts, I have an Egg (size L) and love it - I can fire it up to 350 in the morning, put whatever on, and come back 12 hours later and it's still at 350. I certainly didn't have any residual stomach issues - perhaps that was from your lunch elsewhere?

                     
                     
                     
                    4 Replies
                    1. re: TAF

                      Agreed, all the contestants were having fun and were very nice...the food was just...I expected much better.

                      A note of point - I rarely eat a lot of greasy food and there was a lot of under-cooked bacon, etc. No one got "food poisoning" but just stomach troubles - the other two in our group didn't eat where we did, so we made the assumption it was from something we all ate at the festival. Yes, it could have been a coincidence.

                      We had a great time people watching and Aaron's demonstration amused us greatly.

                      1. re: amysuehere

                        I did not eat any raw shrimp - nor would I have if I had been offered it! Ha, perhaps the shrimp had been cooked by the time I arrived :-)

                        It was, to be fair, an amateur cooking event, but I can see that since you (presumably) paid to get in, you might expect more. Nonetheless, I really didn't think the food was all that bad, and those meatballs were some of the best I've ever had. I'm not sure the Aaron Franklin show was meant to be taken all that seriously - just a crowd pleaser, I think - although certainly a well-attended one. Not as amusing, however, as the lady from a food channel last year, who introduced herself as the 'female Bobby Flay', with the character to match!

                        1. re: TAF

                          Didn't know about the shrimp - the were wrapped in spring roll wrappers and the outside was dark brown. The cook was horrified, so I assume he adjusted.

                          hehe...that SMOKE!

                          We had to pay $25 pp to get in.

                          Would have liked to see the "Female Bobby Flay" (what the hell does that even mean - she likes peppers?)

                      2. re: TAF

                        My family and I had a fantastic time at Eggfest 2014! We have owned a BGE for 3 years now (bought from BBQ Outfitters) and have been very pleased. I would say it's more of a lifestyle than just a smoker, hence the Eggfest where fans could come together for BBQ fun. The cooks are just everyday people wanting to show off their BGE skills and unique recipes, some better than others. We arrived early and were able to grab a free beer relatively quick then started our journey around. We knew to bring our own beer, because free beer at a BBQ fest there is going to be a line. There was also plenty of bottled water for everyone that was easily accessible. We tried everything from bacon wrapped tots, meatballs, tacos, trip-tip, roasted duck salad, pulled pork pizza and even cheesecake! There was no need for lunch as we were all pleasantly satisfied. The event for us was more about trying out new recipes and talking with cooks about technique. Everyone was friendly and personable. I loved that many cooks made their own BBQ sauces and were more than happy to tell you how. We were even able to meet Aaron Franklin and talk BBQ! What a charismatic person! We left before his show but by that time we were full and have talked and tried all the foods we wanted. I cannot wait to go next year and perhaps even cook for the event.