Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Smokin' in Seattle

Photo courtesy of Mickey

 Several years ago, while awaiting arrival of Dorothy, our Aga cooker, someone mentioned to me that there was a bbq I should look into that was the griller's equivalent of an Aga.  It was called a Big Green Egg.  Of course, I immediately had to investigate this oddly-named thing and learned that it was a ceramic Kamado-style bbq.

Here is Jim looking oh-so-excited about his new toy

 One thing led to another and within fairly short order, Jim was receiving his very own Big Green Egg for Father's Day. Never mind that he had never even heard of it before, let alone requested such a gift.  I needed one, which meant he needed one, and that is how Dimples, our large Big Green Egg, came to live with us.

The Big Green Egg has a terrific cult following which means a great online forum where all things Egg-related can be discussed at any hour of the day or night.  Having a problem in the middle of your all-night pork cook and need some advice?  No problem, there is guaranteed to be at least one 'egghead' up and online to help you out or commiserate or show off photos of what he cooked for dinner earlier that night.

Pulled pork cooked overnight on the Egg

 The BGE, or simply Egg, is not just a cool bbq and smoker.  It makes hands-down the best bbq I have ever tasted.  What's more, it doesn't stop at bbqing and smoking.  You can bake in it, stir fry in it, and if you get the extra-large, you can probably take a bath in it.  I have personally made French toast, chocolate chip cookies, s'mores, mashed potatoes, bacon-wrapped tater tots, quesadillas, and asparagus and other assorted veggies.  Sometimes we do meat on it too.

Bacon-wrapped tater tots from Eggfest 2007 - always a big hit!
Now although the Egg makes delicious food, that isn't even the best part about it.  Whenever you have a lot of people conversing often online (and the BGE forum is very chatty), they will sooner or later start wanting to meet up in real life.  This phenomenon had happened with the Eggheads long before I ever came upon the scene.  In fact, they had been meeting up at Eggfests all across the country for 8 years when I stumbled in the door.  There is the big main Eggtoberfest put on by and at the Mothership in Tucker, Georgia, every October.  This was started back in '97.  As time went on, smaller but no less enthusiastic Eggfests were started by just regular old eggheads, sometimes with the help of their local Egg dealers.  The main gist of an Eggfest is that you get a dealer to sell a number of 'demo eggs' at a discount to anyone who is too cheap to shell out the full price.  These Eggs are cooked on by anyone who wishes to do so and then the used-for-one-day Eggs are taken home by their happy new owners.  In the meantime, for a fee, other people can attend and eat the food that is being cooked all day long at the Eggfest.  The cooks get in free, thus saving between 25 and 50 dollars, and in exchange they get to slave away cooking food they have provided at their own expense often totaling in the hundreds of dollars.

Alas, there were no Eggfests in the Seattle area, nor anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, not even on the entire west coast.  What was to be done?  For a couple years, it was discussed often to start an Eggfest in the Seattle area.  I was all for that.  It got talked to death but no one was willing to take it on.  I approached the dealer I had purchased my—I mean, Jim's Egg from, and they were not interested.

Another year went by and the subject came up again.  Being the great organizer I am, I decided I would put on my own Eggfest.  If I couldn't find a place to have it and a dealer to sponsor it, I would just end up inviting some fellow Eggheads in the general area over to our house for a bbq.

I put the word out on the forum that I was planning a PNW Eggfest.  This apparently is all that was needed to get the ball rolling.  The next thing I knew, I had dealers lined up insisting on being allowed to participate.  Eventually w approached the local distributor, AES, who came on board and agreed to be our main sponsor.  We ended up with 3 dealers on our team, a few having dropped out once they found out that they would be expected to actually put up some money and maybe do a little work.  We held our first Pacific Northwest Evergreen Eggfest (Smokin' in Seattle) in September of 2007 at Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah.  It was a huge success with 25 cooks and over 250 people attending from 7 states.
Tonia came with her husband Larry from Florida

This brings me back to my sentence, "Now although the Egg makes delicious food, that isn't even the best part about it."  The people I met at our Eggfest were absolutely the nicest people I have ever met in my life.  I'm talking about the people who worked for AES and the dealers and the fellow Eggheads who came and cooked.  The people who came and ate were pretty nice, too, but it was the true Eggheads who stood out as being exceptionally nice people.
Love Brian's shirt!
Men in kilts cooking - does it get any better than that?

Ray Lampe, aka Dr. BBQ, our guest chef

Our first Eggfest was very successful and AES and the dealers got together and sent me to Eggtoberfest in October of 2007 as a thank you for my part in starting it up and all.  Again, the people I met when I attended that amazing event (200 cooks, 1500 people eating) were just beyond nice.  I don't know what it is about them.  I certainly meet a lot of nice people as I go through life, but there is just something about these Eggheads that puts them a little bit above average nice.  I keep hoping some of it will rub off on me!

Sean Alexander, the generous and talented Egger who designed and maintains our website

Eggers are a colorful bunch

So this year we held our second Eggfest, again in September and at the same location.  We had 32 cooks and over 450 people, so we grew a bit, although we only had 6 states represented.  Again, it was a super fun day with just the nicest people showing up and helping out, cooking, and having fun together.  I walked away with new friends, some great new recipes, and the hope that maybe a little bit more of that niceness had rubbed off on me.

LOVED this kid!

The heat is on!

Pizza on the Egg - delicious!

Couple of satisfied customers

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