Wow! I’m still so freaking excited that Evan and I won first place in the professional judges panel! I’m even more excited to announce that my two best friends (Liz and Kyle of Sous Me Alchemy) placed first in the public vote AND they will be going to Brooklyn to compete in December (we may have to pack it up and be your food groupies Liz and Kyle)! We both competed last year in 2011- ZestyBeanDog winning 3rd in Judges Pick. Ever since that day I knew I wanted to win first place!!! Our friends the Holy Smokers took 2nd Judges and 2nd Public this year, last year they were the Public champions and went to Brooklyn! Way to go everyone!
ZestyBeanDog made taco that was the “buzz of the afternoon” according to the judges. We made a Pecan smoked duck taco, topped with a duck egg and Brooklyn Lager aioli, a Yuzu Serrano quick pickle slaw, and corn tortilla crispies fried in duck fat all on the bed of a warm homemade flour tortilla (made at 5am that morning). We used all local ingredients from Austin TX. We were even told that our taco was a “smokey, ducky, juicy, crispy BLT of a taco which made the judges swoon”.
The days leading up to the big event recap:
- Friday, we started preparing things and collecting our last min needs like charcoal and wood chips, etc.
- Saturday I made a final shopping round to the Cedar Park Farmer’s Market, prepped even more evan deboned the ducks, I popped a pork shoulder in the oven (because we all have to eat too and that was the dish we made last year). Yes I know that may be crazy to cook two major dishes at once but it was worth it and the pork shoulder cooks itself basically! Smoked 4 ducks over the evening. Made the duck egg aioli and duck fat crispies! Even made a duck liver pate with all of the innards from the duck (thanks for that Lori)! Then sweet sweet SLEEP! (with a time change)….
- Sunday 5am = tortilla making time (it took me 5 tries to get these little things down over the course of 2 months). Slice 4 ducks, chop slaw, make yuzu sauce, and pack it all up! I know I must be forgetting something oh yes my camera (Lori and Dave go get it). Set up table and food, crack open first Brooklyn Lager… and prepare for the calm before the storm! Over 300 people came, the event sold out and reached capacity! There was even a CELEBRITY there Matt Lillard, from Scream, Scooby Doo, Ect… apparently he’s now producing his first movie: Fat Kid Rules the World and he tried our smoked duck tacos AND said it was amazing, he tried to come back for seconds… but we were out, I hope he voted for ZBD! Keep in mind this is event is going on all at the same time as SXSW, Austin’s Biggest event each year!
- When we got home we celebrated by opening a Brooklyn Black Ops (we won 3 last year at this event) and I made a pizza from scratch, sometime you just have to have pizza! Then we crashed hard! Competitive cooking takes it out of you! I’m still tired!
I put a lot of thought and effort into the vision of this dish as soon as I got that email from The Food Experiments telling me that Taco time was nearing! After several experimentations (some being slight failures and almost even changing our dish) we decided we had to do smoked whole ducks. My husband Evan was my biggest critic and that helped us win no doubt about it (even though I wanted to stab him with a fork a couple of times…). We work great as a team and when I want to give up or take an easy way out, he won’t let me no matter how much I fight it! Thanks for that E! Also thanks for rolling out of bed first thing in the morning and deboning 4 whole ducks I’d also like to thank our friends and family that came to support us and watch it all go down, we really couldn’t have done it without you and of course the Brooklyn Brewery Food Experiments team led by Theo Peck- you are all amazing!
We totally took this competition on at full force and it it paid off, big time. I couldn’t be more happy with our placing in this event, to me judges first place is what I wanted all a long, the top pick by well known food critics in Austin. They know food, they know what makes it balanced and successful, and they know how to talk about it! I truly feel ecstatic that they chose our dish because they thought it was the best of them all- and to me that’s worth more than any trip or prize. The judges panel consisted of Addie Broyles from the Austin-Statesman, Claudia Alarcon of The Chronicle and Zagat, Virginia Wood, Food Editor of The Austin Chronicle, and local Austin Food Blogger Stella Floyd of Stella Cooks . Thanks to all of them for their hard work!
We did win some pretty sweet prizes though from the oh so gracious sponsors: A 12″ Anolon Skillet, a 4.5 Quart Le Creuset French Oven, a WHOLE brisket from Franklin BBQ (the BEST BBQ in Austin), a Wusthof knife, the Trailer Food Diaries Cookbook, a Microplane, T-Shirts, some SWEET Chameleon Cold Brew, and BRAGGING RIGHTS!!!
I’d also like to give a shout out to Marx Foods for expediting me some Yuzu at a great price! Thanks guys!
We made it in the media:
To All My Fellow Bloggers…. Thank YOU for giving me inspiration and supporting me through reading and commenting on my blog you are what fuels my fire! Sorry for neglecting my blog over the past month and not being as active as I’d like on your incredible blogs! Cheers and MUCH LOVE!