Where charcoal meets charity
By Michelle Farnham
Aug. 15, 2022
MIRAMAR BEACH – The Eggs on the Beach grilling extravaganza is unlike any other culinary event on the Emerald Coast. Each fall, dozens of cook teams fire up their Big Green Egg grills and battle it out for barbecue glory.
Eggfests are held all around the country, allowing Big Green Egg enthusiasts to demonstrate the versatility of the kamado-style ceramic charcoal barbecue cooker. The local iteration, however, elevates the cuisine to a level you’d expect from South Walton; we’re talking much more than beans and weenies here. Past events have seen everything from tuna dip to pizza, grilled pineapple bites to bacon-wrapped venison, smoked wings and even skateboards made of sausage.
Hosted by Bay Breeze Patio owners Susan Kiley and Wayne Paul, this celebration of food and flame is back for its eighth installment Saturday, Oct. 15. Last year’s fest moved to a new location at Seascape Towne Center, a move organizers plan to stick with.
“We got a lot of positive feedback about the new location, being on that beautiful deck, the wonderful bar, playing the most popular college football games, the beautiful open space there at the point with the permanent bathrooms,” said event organizer Tracey Louthain. “This year we’re going to stick with the more intimate feel of last year’s event; we want the tasters to feel like they got their money’s worth!”
The event is about good food and good times, but also good causes. Proceeds from Eggs on the Beach benefit two local non-profits: Food for Thought and Fisher House of the Emerald Coast. You’ll see volunteers from both organizations on hand, helping to keep things running behind the scenes.
Follow the smoke to the grove of white tents on grill day and you’ll find more than 600 ticketholders, putting in the hard work to determine the winner of the coveted Tasters’ Choice award. In 2021, the crowd couldn’t resist the adorable canine companions at the Healing Paws 4 Warriors tent, or their food from Blue Mountain Bakery, winners of the top prize and an XL Big Green Egg grill.
Non-profit groups have their own category, too, competing for thousands of dollars to benefit their charity. Once again, the Healing Paws 4 Warriors team walked away with the $3,000 grand prize.
“We’ll definitely be bringing back our non-profit category this year,” Louthain added. “It’s been a lot of fun and allows us to extend and help a lot more non-profits.”
A team of judges made up of local culinary stars also peruses the fare, awarding trophies to their top three dishes, like last year’s team from Brock Landscaping representing Fisher House.
Knob Creek Bourbon has been an event sponsor the past three years, challenging cook teams to incorporate the Kentucky whiskey into their dish. Occasionally teams will try to win votes by pairing their bite with a complimentary whiskey cocktail, too. The 2021 Knob Creek Best Bite went to the South Walton Academy team “The Eggstras.”
Cook teams – both professional and amateur – are already being sought for this year’s competition.
“We want to grow our cook teams and get some new teams this year,” Louthain said. “We love the teams we’ve partnered with in the past and it would be great to see some new blood, too. We’ve had a lot of success partnering with restaurants in the area, sharing their special creations, showcasing what they can do on the Big Green Egg.”
Eggs on the Beach EggFest Cooking Competition will be held Saturday, Oct. 15 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Seascape Towne Center, on the South side of Highway 98. Tickets and cook team registration will be available at www.eggsonthebeach.com.
Photos by Michelle Farnham