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EGGtoberfest XVII - Cook's Area

First Image
This EGGtoberfest blog entry will discuss the (Eggheads) Cook’s area. There're actually two areas on site where serious cooking is going on. Down near the BGE Company Store Tent is a second very large tent which is the BGE Culinary Partners Cooking Tent. Here you will find well-known chefs who are partnered with BGE such as: Dr. BBQ or Linke Marais, or companies like Dizzy Pig Spices, who have folks there cooking food to show off their particular products. The largest area of the grounds is the Cook's Area where spaces are set up for regular Eggheads to make foods showing off their cooking prowess in the capabilities of the Big Green Egg. There are many places you can get information about the great food that was cooked this day and which were the best booths. Instead of beating a dead horse I am going to describe the cooks area in a much more general sense. This way people who have not gone to EGGtoberfest before will know what to expect if they do go some day.

BIG PICTURE:
People wanting to be a cook buy a Cook's ticket for $75. This gets them a 10’ x 10’ (3m x 3m) space in the Cooking Area of the grounds plus 2 folding tables and chairs. Each Cooks space is intended to be shared by 2 Cooks. Also the BGE Company donates one large Big Green Egg per two Cooks which has a Nest (rolling cart), Plate Setter, Grill Gripper, Ash Tool, Box of Fire Starters and a bag of BGE charcoal. The Cooks bring their own food, cooking utensils, plus any additional EGGcessories they may need. It is also B.Y.O. pop up tent if they wish to have shade while they cook. At the end of the show the BGE Company sells off these once used Eggs and Eggcessories via reservations at 30% off. This really is a brilliant marketing strategy. You have your most avid users PAYING to cook a wide variety of food on your product. While they are cooking, people are asking them questions and your most avid users are evangelizing your product. You have also planted the seeds for several hundred new Eggheads by selling off these once used Eggs at a decent discount. People also get to vote for the best recipes at the show and there is a prize for that. Also many of the best recipes are collected and published each year in an EGGtoberfest cookbook. Granted there is a lot of work putting these things together, but on a day of the show the company gets to step back a bit and what their biggest users help sell their product for them. Members of the general public buy Tasters tickets for $40 which gets them into EGGtoberfest and all of the food they can eat. They also get to vote for the best food. These Eggfests happen at a smaller scale all over the country and many people go there as a final step to see if they want to buy a BGE for themselves. They get to sample of food and ask questions of people already using the Big Green Egg.

“Second

The Parking Area (1) wraps around two sides of the grounds. The Cook’s Area (3) is accessed after entering the grounds. Area (2) contains most of the BGE Company related tents.

LOCATION:

The Cooks Area is accessed once you get in the main grounds. The entrance to EGGtoberfest brings you into an area where you take care of registration and beyond that our various tents related to BGE or their culinary partners and sponsors. On the left side of this area is the entrance to the Cooks Area. This controlled second entrance allows them to let people with Cooks wristbands gain access to this area for set up, while keeping the general public until the show actually starts.

CLICK ON THUMBNAIL TO VIEW PANORAMA PAGE
Panorama 1 - View SW to NE
PANORAMA 1 - 180 degree view Looking Northwest thru Southwest

Panorama 2 - View NE to SW
PANORAMA 2 - 180 degree view Looking Northeast through Southwest


LAYOUT:General:
The Cooks Area of EGGtoberfest is actually a large parking area. The Cook’s spaces are arranged like a parking lot too, with back to back (double-loaded) in the middle and single loaded around the perimeter. Wide aisles separate the rows of Cook's spaces. This is necessary because there may be long winding lines in front of the booths, often on both sides of the aisle. Plus people need to be able to circulate in the middle to reach other booths. I mentioned earlier that the base unit for a Cook’s space is 2 cooks and a 10’x10’ (3m x 3m) space, but many folks team up and create larger spaces. Two approaches are taken here. It is either one group with multiple spaces and multiple cooks where they act as a single “team”, or it is a group of individuals from say the same geographical area that arrange to get their spaces located next to one another. In this second case, they may join up for this day to act as a single team or remain as individual teams from a given geographic area.

Stage:
Just inside the entrance to the Cook’s Area is a large stage where a small, 2 to 3 person, group provides music throughout the day. This location put the tent essentially in the center of the entire EGGtoberfest site allowing the music to be heard over a wide area. The music is loud enough that you can hear it very well, but not so loud that you can't speak over it without shouting. I quickly found between the music and crowd noise, I was NOT able to hear my cell phone ringing either in or out of my pocket. You might want to plan on using text messages and check your phone often when you need to hook up with people. Not much to say other than that. The music is certainly not the focus of my visit, so I'm not going to waste time describing something I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to.

Drink Stations:
As part of your admission to EGGtoberfest you get five drink tickets. The last two years these drink tickets have been stapled to the two-sided document which serves as a map of the site and a schedule for the show. This document was inserted into the copy of the BGE Lifestyle magazine found in your swag bag. They can be very easy to miss in many first time attendees end up going back to their car to store the swag bag, only to find out later that's where their drink tickets are. There are two kinds of drink stations on the grounds, both in the Cooks Area and the BGE Area. There are 5 small 10 x 10’ (3 m x 3 m) pop-up tents where you can get cold soda or water. There were also three larger locations where you could get beer. Heineken was a sponsor for the show so I am guessing there were various Heineken products to choose from. The reason I am saying guessing is because I stuck to soda. Last year it was just too darn hot, and the lines for beer for far too long. I had a couple beers once I got back to the air-conditioned hotel. This year the lines didn't seem as bad as last year, but my hotel was off-site so I stuck to soda. Once you have your cold beverage of choice you can head for the…

Cooling Tents:
Although I never would've expected this, the Cooling Tents can provide some of the highlights of the fest. The tents are about 30' x 30’ (9 m by 9 m) and have a dozen or so round tables that seat about eight people per table. These tents are scattered throughout the Cooking Area and provide a place to get in and out of the sun enjoy a cold drink, Adult beverage or some food you may have gathered up at the booths. What I hadn't given too much thought to before my first Eggfest was the social aspect of it. Last year when the show started, I attended a demo class/cook by Dr. BBQ. This ate up the first hour of the show for me. It was very hot and after an hour in the heat with nothing to drink the first priority was a cold soda. There was a spare seat at one of the tables in a cooling tent. There were three couples at the table: two folks from England, two folks from Australia, two folks from Canada and a mother from Georgia whose daughter had sent her to EGGtoberfest to try and sell her on getting an Egg. The table filled up wen we were joined by a woman pushing a stroller who own 3 Eggs. Everyone was talking about their EGGtoberfest experience, what they do on their Eggs, how many Eggs they owned etc. The woman who was there kicking the tires on getting a new Egg was asking questions of everybody. It is fascinating learning different ways people use their eggs and what they make on them. Exchanging thoughts and ideas with fellow Eggheads is one of the most fun parts of this event for me.

FOOD:
Food - Big Picture:
I am not going to get into specifics on the food served, you can go to the Big Green Egg Egghead forum for that. People often collect the recipes and post them there as well. Instead I will cover the experience in general. A typical Cook’s tent has one or more menu boards showing the food(s) they will be making throughout the day and the approximate time they will be serving each item. It is not a continuous feeding frenzy where you can just walk up to any booth at any time and get food. You may luck out and walk up to a booth when they happen to have fresh food coming off their Egg, You may also have to do some pre-planning ( see Food - Strategy below). By this I mean: Spend some time walking around, seeing the Cook’s Tents that have food that interests you and noting the time it will be served. If it is an item that is unusual, or typically very popular, or that already has great word-of-mouth at the show: You will have to get there early and stand in line to have any chance of getting some. As an alternative to this you may want to see if they have the recipe for this item available. I believe all of the Cooks are supposed to have printed copies of recipes for everything they're making. Then you can give it a try yourself later. When a particular round of food runs out, that is it until the next batch comes off their egg. And when the Cooks run out of food at a particular tent that is that is it.

Typically when the show first starts, many people are serving breakfast-themed items. Later in the morning they change over to other types of food. The food is typically served in hors d'oeuvres sized portions, on small paper plates or in small plastic cups or bowls. Pizzas a very popular and are typically cut up into small squares as opposed to the typical pie-shaped pieces. Chicken wings and jalapeno poppers are popular and you'll get a single wing or popper. The same goes with ribs you'll be getting a single rib. Something like pulled pork will be served on small slider buns. You usually won't be lucky enough to get an entire slider size portion, the slider buns are often cut in half to make them go farther. If the item being served is normally served with a sauce (pulled pork, ribs etc.) there will often be squirt bottles of one or more spaces, usually homemade.

Food - Strategy:
I mentioned earlier how are you need to have a plan of attack if you have certain food items or a particular Cook’s tent you want to sample. You need to look at their menu boards and see what time they'll be serving and get there early. In general the later in the day it gets the busier the show gets and the longer lines. Also if a particular booth has a run on their food and they go through it sooner than I expected, that is it for the day for them. The best time to get lots of samples is when the show first opens. There are still many people in line waiting to get into the show itself. Also many people don't come until later for whatever reason. Either way, you have a better chance of getting some food without standing in really long lines in the early to mid-morning timeframe. You also might want to trying get a handle on how much food will be coming off a particular Egg for serving. There is no sense standing in line that already has 25 people in it, when you can see the cooks prepping it, and there are 20 items that will be coming off their Egg.

Knowing ahead of time there'll be lines which get longer throughout the day, you might want to rethink your choice of food to sample. Do you want to try new and different things that you don't make yourself? Do you want to try something that you think you're good at and see how your food stacks up? The time lost standing in line is going to limit the number of foods you can sample. So you need to decide if it is worth standing in line for something you're already pretty good at. For me, where I can make a lot of this food myself if I just have a recipe for it, my strategy is really different. Sampling the food is not the most important thing for me. I like attending the classes and demos, as well as interacting with other EGGheads and getting new ideas. Sure, if I am walking by a booth and some food is coming off and I can try it without standing in a long line, I'll grab some. Otherwise I may just take note of some of the more interesting sounding recipes and then try them out myself when they're published after the show. Also most of the Cook’s Tents have copies of the recipes available for you to take with you. So in the interest of time, I will often take the recipe and not necessarily wait for the food if the lines are looking long. And actually the long lines may serve as a clue to which recipes are particularly good.

Food - Egging 101:
The people who are serving as Cooks tend to be some of your most avid Eggheads. They are very passionate about what they do and are often more than willing to share this information with other Eggheads. I have heard people complain that there aren't classes or demos for beginning Eggheads at EGGtoberfest. While this is true, I look at the entire Cook’s Area as a giant classroom for Eggheads of all experience levels. You can learn in three ways. You can watch what the people are doing. You can ask questions of the cooks. Lastly you can learn a lot from the Eggheads who are there as Tasters. Sure some of the Tasters are brand-new to the Egg or don't even own an Egg, but many are long time Eggheads. These long term Egghead tasters have lots of knowledge and they are very generous sharing it.

I have seen many Cooks spend lots of time answering questions for newbie Eggers. But you must be reasonable as well about when you ask your questions. If a Cook’s Tent is really slammed with long lines and they are scrambling to get food finished off and into the hands of the people in line, this is the worst time to ask questions. Now if it is a case where the cooks are just waiting for their food to finish up and they are not scrambling to do some last-minute final prep, they may be receptive to answering a question or two. The best time to ask questions is often the time between servings when there are no lines. The Cooks may not have a lot to do during this time and some of them actually seem to be quite eager to fill that time by talking to others. Sometimes I see Tasters who can be selfish and unthinking. Rather than wait for the time in between servings, they want to multitask. They try to get all their questions answered while are standing in line. It simply doesn't occur to them that this may be a bad time because it is the busiest time for the Cook. They don't want to come back when it's less busy, because that time could be spent at another booth getting more food or getting more questions answered. So be considerate of what is going on in a particular booth. If they are busy: Watch and learn. When they aren't too busy: Ask and learn.

Conclusion:
As you can see the Cook’s Area at Eggtoberfest can be many different things to many different people. You can try some good food, learn some things from the Cooks and fellow Eggheads, and meet a great bunch of people. You should also check out the official video for EGGtoberfest XVII (link below) to get a sense of the event.

SOME RELATED LINKS:
Here are some links to other blog entries in this series and several blog entries from my first visit to EGGtoberfest in 2013.

EGGtoberfest XVI - 2013
   EGGTOBERFEST XVI - PART 1 2013 Blog Entry about my first visit to the big Kahuna of Eggfests: EGGtoberfest.
   EGGTOBERFEST XVI - PART 2 2013 Blog Entry about my first visit to the big Kahuna of Eggfests: EGGtoberfest.

EGGtoberfest XVII - 2014
   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - MOTHERSHIP 2014 Blog Entry about my first visit to the Big Green Egg Company Store at their headquarters in Tucker, GA
   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - MEET & GREET 2014 Blog Entry about the second Meet & Greet held at the Atlanta Evergreen Marriot Resort. Did they fix some of theses from last year?
   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - MINI-MAX DEBUT 2014 Blog Entry about the Mini-Max which had it’s coming out party at EGGtoberfest XVII
   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - COMPANY STORE TENT
   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - TIPS & LESSONS LEARNED 2014 Blog Entry with some Big Picture information about the setup and what went on in the Cook’s Area at EGGtoberfest XVII
   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - SWAG BAG 2014 Blog Entry with some pictures and descriptions of what was in the EGGtoberfest XVII Swag Bag

   EGGTOBERFEST XVII - OFFICIAL VIDEO Web page containing the 2014 EGGtoberfest XVII video produced by the BGE Company

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