October 8, 2021

Big Tex rewards include fried seafood okra, armadillo cookies

The 17th edition Big Tex Choice Award has shown that there is no shortage of creativity in the Lone Star State.

After tasting all 10 foods and carefully evaluating each item, the all-star jury tallied their scores and cast their final votes. The winners are: “Best Taste – Salty” AND “Most Creative” for Gourmet Royale’s Fried Seafood Okra Balls, while James Barrera’s The Armadillo takes “Best Taste – Sweet”.

Here are some details about the winners of the State Fair of Texas:

Best Taste – Salty

Fried Seafood Gumbo Balls, Gourmet Royale

Using a family recipe handed down for four generations, the base is a dark, rich and flavorful roux that represents the true essence of New Orleans. The meatballs are then loaded with Gulf Coast shrimp, simmered chicken, blue crab meat, and andouille sausage. The balls are then rolled in our cracker and breadcrumb dough, then fried, creating an explosion of flavor. The balls are served with a dark red okra sauce for your dining pleasure and garnished with chicken fried okra spears. The dish will be served with a small bottle of hot sauce and a packet of salted crackers.

Best Taste – Sweet

The Armadillo, James Barrera

You’ll all want to come home with the Armadillo Biscuit Butter Ice Cream Sandwich! This is a buttery cookie semifreddo made from scratch – an Italian version of ice cream which means semi-frozen. The treat is drizzled with cookie butter and sandwiched between two fried armadillo-shaped cookies made with a branding iron. Finally, it is sprinkled with buttery sugar. Absolutely a velvety creamy delight!

The most creative

Fried Seafood Gumbo Balls, Gourmet Royale

Using a family recipe handed down for four generations, the base is a dark, rich and flavorful roux that represents the true essence of New Orleans. The meatballs are then loaded with Gulf Coast shrimp, simmered chicken, blue crab meat, and andouille sausage. The balls are then rolled in our cracker and breadcrumb dough, then fried, creating an explosion of flavor. The balls are served with a dark red okra sauce for your dining pleasure and garnished with chicken fried okra spears. The dish will be served with a small bottle of hot sauce and a packet of salted crackers.

Each year, the Big Tex Choice Awards judges face the difficult, but much sought-after task of selecting the winning Fair Trade Foods – this year was no exception, and the lineup has proven to be extremely competitive this year. Although they haven’t won any of the three titles today, the other 2021 finalists are: Crispy Crazy Corn from Ruth Hauntz, Deep Fried I-35 from Clint and Gretchen Probst, Lucky Duck Dumplin ‘from Bert Concessions, Pork Shots by Glen Kusak and Sherri Kusak at Hans Mueller, Brisket Brittle by Ruth Hauntz, Fried Halloween by Isaac Rousso, Fernie’s Fried Toffee Coffee Crunch Cake by The Winter Family and Texas Pumpkin Poke Cake by Michelle Edwards.

This year’s celebrity judges were Chef Tiffany Derry – chef, restaurateur, TV personality, food lawyer and brand consultant; Chef Uno Immanivong – Chef and Owner, Red Stix Street Food, Chef Uno Brands & Catering; Donovan Lewis – On-air Personality for Sportsradio 96.7 and 1310 The Ticket; Chef Kent Rathbun – Renowned chef and restaurateur; Michelle Rodriguez – Personality on the air for New Country 96.3.

Each of the 10 finalists will be available all 24 days of the 2021 Texas State Fair, along with a host of other new foods on offer at the Fair this year. Fairground fanatics can pick up a Visitor’s Guide, which includes a food map that showcases vendor locations for each of the finalists, or check out the foraging map at BigTex.com/Map, which makes it easy to map out. your route and hits all the hot spots along the way. Visitor guides will be available at State Fair information booths, as well as online at BigTex.com. Be sure to come and try all of our new foods at our biggest fundraiser of the year – the 2021 Texas State Fair, which opens September 24 at Fair Park.


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