If it was deep-fried, stuck on a stick, or packing enough sugar to power a locomotive, it was up for grabs February 26 at the Gold Buckle Foodie Awards — the height of culinary excellence at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
I joined 40 Houston celebrity A-Listers (and a few, “you are?”) judging the event, held over three hours of non-stop Deep Fried Pecan Pie, Pizza on a Stick, Brisket Balls, and Funnel Cake Double Bacon Cheeseburgers.
Yeah, that’s right, a double bacon cheeseburger between two funnel cakes. You’ve never made those at home?
Each year the Rodeo food maniacs come up with something new and nuts, like Deep Fried Cotton Candy. But when they count the receipts at the end, you know what’s sold the most? Corn dogs and nature’s original “on a stick,” turkey legs.
But corn dogs won’t get you on the 5 o’clock news, so: “What if we made a sundae with mashed potatoes and barbecue sauce?”
This was the tenth anniversary of the Gold Buckle Foodie Awards, and my first since judging the debut contest in 2009. I was seated with Channel 11 superstar reporter Rekha Muddaraj and ABC13’s wakeup traffic ace Katherine “The Black Widow” Whaley. You should see Whaley inhale Deep Fried Pecan Pie. Impressive. I think she snuck an extra one in her purse for later.
There were eight categories: New Flavor, Most Creative, Fried, Specialty, On-a-Stick, Dessert, Classic Fair, and Value.
(This is not what I imagined when I took Journalism 101.)
My favorite: Deep Fried Bread Pudding Squares covered in caramel sauce.
Here are the winners in each category, via ABC13.
Best New Flavor
1st place: Harlon's BBQ, Harlon's stuffed turkey leg
2nd place: Sills Funnel Cakes, fried cheesecake balls
3rd place: The Original Minneapple Pie, Ultimate Minneapple Pie
Most Creative Food
1st place: Fried What!, fried bacon-wrapped cinnamon rolls
2nd place: Cadillac Bar: Carnitas Guadalajara Mexican bowl
3rd place: Ranch House Meat Co., "Fat Max" 3-meat sandwich
Best Fried Food
1st place: The Original Minneapple Pie, Minnepumpkin Pie
2nd place: Aunt Edmoes Cookies, deep-fried cookie dough on a stick
3rd place: Burton Sausage, foot-long corn dog
Best Specialty Food
1st place: All of Us, chocolate cobbler
2nd place: The Great White, white chocolate cheesecake
3rd place: DGZ Chocolates, Toffarazzi toffee
Best Food on a Stick
1st place: Sudie's Catfish House, fried bread pudding on a stick
2nd place: Swains Pizza on a Stick, pizza on a stick
3rd place: Burton Sausage, chicken and sausage kabob
1st place: Fried What!, Buckeye sundae
2nd place: Aunt Edmoes Cookies, cookie dough parfait
3rd place: The Original Minneapple Pie, Minnechocolate Pie
Classic Fair Food
1st place: Biggy's (RCS Carnival), spicy turkey leg
2nd place: Stubby's Cinnamon Rolls, cinnamon roll with icing
3rd place: Aunt Edmoes Cookies, homemade chocolate chip cookies
Best Value Food
1st place: Yoakum Packing, bacon croissant
2nd place: Saltgrass Steakhouse, chicken and ribs
3rd place: Ranch House Meat Co., barbecue plate