By Michelle Farnham
June 13th, 2019
Just as the summer tourist season has begun to cool off on the Emerald Coast, the
Eggs on the Beach cooking competition will be firing things back up! Slated for
Saturday, Sept. 28 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., this gathering of Big Green Egg cooking
enthusiasts promises to fill bellies and inspire home grillers.
Susan Kiley and Wayne Paul – co-owners of Bay Breeze Patio and retailers of the
Kamado-style cooker – are gearing up for their sixth annual EGGfest.
“Regionally around the country, fairly large Big Green Egg dealers started having
their own EGGfests, but we like to tell people, ‘This is not your grandfather’s
EGGfest,’” explained Kiley, stressing that their competition features truly gourmet
food. “Often times for these EGGfests, you go to the state park and you have 20 guys
making pulled pork. Ours is everything but pulled pork!”
What might ticket-holders find at one of the 30-plus stations located throughout the
festival, held on the driving range at Seascape Resort? Kiley listed some of the more
memorable bites from years past, including smoked dates wrapped in bacon with
cream cheese, triggerfish tacos, and smoked pork belly.
For the past two years, sponsor Knob Creek has hosted a Best Knob Creek Bite
competition, ranking cuisine made with the distillery’s bourbon.
Beer, wine, and liquor are sold on-site by Seascape, but over the years some of the
teams have started incorporating drinks with their bites as a way to garner more
votes from taste-testers. In addition to People’s Choice awards, organizers started
bringing in a panel of experts each year to award Judge’s Choice trophies.
Some top contenders from years past include Saltwater Restaurants, Inc., The Gulf
Restaurant of Okaloosa Island; and Rotary Club of Destin. Attendees also will enjoy
live music, a charity raffle, a kids area put on by Food For Thought, big screen TVs to
watch football courtesy of ENCO Electronics, smoked cocktail seminars from Knob
Creek, and live Big Green Egg cooking demonstrations.
Reams of teams
The fest is able to accommodate up to 34 teams, comprised of restaurant crews,
non-profit groups, and backyard grilling enthusiasts.
“It’s a pretty diverse group with a lot of competition among the teams,” Kiley said.
“Last year we had these firefighters from Louisiana who happened to be here on
vacation at Seascape. They called and said, ‘We don’t know what this is, but it
sounds like fun. Can we enter?’ They ended up winning one of the categories and
had a really good time!”
There are plenty of locals involved in the competition as well, and the generosity
they display is impressive.
“We had a team enter last year called Sacred Que, with some people from the
medical staff at Sacred Heart. They ended up winning People’s Choice, and the prize
was a Big Green Egg. They turned around and donated it to one of the non-profit
teams so that team could use it as a fundraiser. I was like, ‘This is why we do this
stuff!’ It was pretty awesome,” Kiley admitted.
Eye on the prize
The 2018 installation of EGGfest raised $36,000 for local charities, with more than
$100,000 over the local event’s history. Of that money, $6,000 is earmarked for
prizes for the top three non-profit teams. The balance gets donated to the event’s
two charities: Food For Thought and Fisher House Foundation.
While the affair has certainly been successful at generating funds for good causes,
Kiley made sure to point out their EGGfest is “a food festival that happens to raise
money.” They also cap attendance at 800 tickets.
“When you’re talking about 30-some teams, cooking on about 50 Eggs, you’re
talking about food all over the place!” she said. “We want to keep this Southern
garden party vibe. I don’t want 5,000 people running around because teams do this
on their own, and it’s a lot of work for them.”
The real deal
So what’s so special about a Big Green Egg that it deserves its own festival?
“The Green Egg is a 100 percent ceramic cooker and it’s almost impossible to make a
mistake with it,” Kiley explained. “It’s a grill, an oven, and a smoker. You can’t
overcook on it; you can’t undercook on it. It truly has its own cult following.”
Kiley said one of the things they like about the Big Green Egg and EGGfest is it
appeals to all demographics.
“It’s really an event that everybody in the community enjoys because all kinds of
people cook on the Big Green Egg,” she said. “It’s been our goal from the very
beginning to keep our sponsorship dollars and the ticket prices as low as possible, so as many people as possible can enjoy it. A lot of events keep raising ticket prices, and we try not to do that.”
Seascape Golf, Beach and Tennis Resort is located in Miramar Beach between Highway
98 and Scenic Gulf Drive. For more information on EGGfest or to purchase tickets, visit
www.eggsonthebeach.com. Tickets can also be purchased by cash or check at Bay
Breeze Patio, 32 Forest Shore Drive, Miramar Beach. If any tickets remain, they can be
purchased at the door the day of the event.