Eggs on the Beach: Fired up for fun and philanthropy

Seventh EggFest celebrates Big Green Egg grills

By Michelle Farnham
Oct. 17, 2021

SEASCAPE – Good food, good weather, good fun and good causes converged at Seascape Towne Center Oct. 16, as the Eggs on the Beach EggFest Cooking Competition returned for a seventh time.

Susan Kiley of Bay Breeze Patio co-organizes the event, and was very pleased with how the 2021 installment turned out.

“We had to change venues so that we could spread people out, put each group in individual tents, and it ends up that this is really a perfect venue. Everyone is loving it,” Kiley said, adding the decision to move the EggFest from September to October was also wise. “To not be 97 degrees is delightful.”

Natural Light
Team Bad Day to be a Naturday manning the Big Green Egg.

The eats

With nearly two dozen cook teams competing for fame and prizes, competitors had to bring creativity and originality to catch the attention of tasters, who used tickets to vote for their favorites. Team “Here for the Beer” passed out their Texas Twinkies: bacon-wrapped jalapeño peppers with zesty cheese filling. The Combat Diver Foundation had eggs frying to top their huevos rancheros plates. BE-CI satisfied the sweet tooth with their smoked bananas foster bite.

Mike Sturdivant was helping to man the “Hot Decks” table for Walton County Skate Society. The organization that built the skate park in Santa Rosa Beach drew inspiration from their sport, constructing an edible skateboard: smoked sausage wheels, a Black Bear Bread deck, mozzarella cheese, topped with a blueberry reduction sauce.

The battle of the smoked tuna dip was waged between Food For Thought, Saltwater Grill and Team No Bad Days. Sinfonia Gulf Coast enticed voters with cups of vodka tea lemonade accompanying their grilled shrimp with gazpacho – a collaboration with Destin Ice Market 30A – but also promised a musical fanfare from the student musicians for each ticket collected.

No Bad Days
“Smoked tuna dip! Come and get it while it’s ready!” encouraged the No Bad Days team.

Volunteering at the Blue Angels Foundation table, Terry Mauer of the Florida SBDC joked their strategy was to overwhelm tasters with their giant plates of smoked beef molé chilaquiles with avocado hollandaise.

“Our goal is to fill everyone up so they don’t have room to taste any of the other food!” Mauer said with a laugh.

Tasked with picking Judges’ Choice winners were local culinary experts Chef Dan Vargo from Fine Coastal Cuisine, Chef Dave Bishop of Bud & Alley’s, Chef Gary Serafin of Emerald Coast Catering and Chef Mimmo La Innusa from Mimmo’s Ristorante Italiano.

“We’re judging on taste, presentation and uniqueness, but also different ways the teams are able to use the Green Egg.” – Chef Dan Vargo

“Of course we’re judging on taste, presentation and uniqueness, but also different ways the teams are able to use the Green Egg,” explained Vargo. “There are a few here that really used it on every aspect on their plate, from the oil to the spice rub to the bread – everything. It’s always fun to see cooks that aren’t professional cooks and what they can do.”

Vargo was especially pleased to be involved with this year’s event after the 2020 EggFest was cancelled due to the pandemic.

“It’s great to see people out and about,” he said. “The event does great things for the community charities, and of course we’re all benefiting from the social aspect of it.”

Dave Bishop
Chef Dave Bishop of Bud & Alley’s considers the entry from the Blue Angels Foundation.

Knob Creek Bourbon was back as an event sponsor, offering its own tier of awards for the cook teams that incorporated the Kentucky whiskey into their dishes.

In addition to ticket sales – which Kiley estimated exceeded 600 – additional funds were raised through a raffle drawing for everything from a MiniMax Big Green Egg to a condo stay, with all of the day’s proceeds benefiting Food For Thought and Fisher House of the Emerald Coast.

Healing Paws 4 Warriors
Healing Paws 4 Warriors won both the non-profit and Taster’s Choice categories.

EggFest Awards

Knob Creek Best Bite

1 – South Walton Academy The Eggstras
2 – BE-CI
3 – Food For Thought Get Out the Grill
Honorable Mention – Premier Group
Honorable Mention – Confidential BBQ

Non-Profit Group

1 – Healing Paws 4 Warriors – $3,000
2 – South Walton Academy The Eggstras – $2,000
3 – Boys & Girls Club of the Emerald Coast – $1,000
3 – Sinfonia Gulf Orchestra – $1,000

Judges’ Choice trophies

1 – Brock Landscaping/Fisher House
2 – Blue Angels
3 – Saltwater Grill

Taster’s Choice prizes

1 – Healing Paws 4 Warriors – XL Big Green Egg
2 – Saltwater Restaurants – Large Big Green Egg
3 – BE-CI – MiniMax Big Green Egg

Photos by Michelle Farnham

Photo Slideshow: