The Champion's Table
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

2017 World Food Championships: Bacon World Championship Opening Round

After carbing up at The Southern Grind Coffeehouse, it was time to head down to Kitchen Arena for the first competition of the day, Bacon World Championship Opening Round. As we walked over, we saw the competitors wheeling/carrying in their cooking equipment and ingredients towards the tent. You could feel the “buzz” of excitement, nervousness, tension, and love of bacon in the air. I have been covering World Food Championships since 2014 and in that time I have met so many nice people that have become part of my ohana. One person in particular is Rebecka Evans from At Home with Rebecka. I met her during the 2015 World Food Championships in Celebration, FL. We were attending a Blogger Summit prior to the Championships. My biggest memory was being packed into a rental car so the girls could get back and shop for their competition the next day and I could attend a media event that evening. Even though we were squished like sardines, we had so much fun on the ride back. I have never laughed so much in my whole life!

The Bacon World Championships was presented by Lipton Iced Tea and the Opening Round included two builds: Structured Build and Signature Dish. The Structured Build for Bacon World Championship was “Quiche Lorraine” (defined as a savory open crust pie, filled with custard flavored with, but not limited to, bacon and cheese). The Signature Dish was the competitor’s choice, although it needed to fit the general “theme” of bacon to receive maximum points.

Rebecka was also part of Team Saucy Mama. She used Saucy Mama Champagne Honey Mustard in the Quiche Lorraine build and Taste Domination Scotch Bonnet Pepper & Blackberry Wing Sauce in her Signature Dish.

After a few minutes into the round, Kitchen Arena became bacon heaven with 34 competitors cooking bacon!

Jodi Taffel’s man, David, was one of the Cheferees during the Bacon World Championships. Staying Alive!

Bacon Team Saucy Mama team members were Renee Robinson (on the left), Rebecka Evans (in the middle), and Lynn Beamer (on the right).

Rebecka’s Quiche Lorraine entry called, Three Cheese Quiche Lorraine, came together beautifully – beautiful golden crust, perfectly yellow custard color speckled with snipped green chives and reddish brown bacon bits. The full quiche was her “presentation plate” and slices were made for the judges’ plates. The taste was amazing with buttery crust, savory custard, creamy cheese flavor, and lots of bacon. E.A.T. Score: 92.375 out of 100.

After turning in her quiche, it was time to work on her Signature Dish, Dutch Crunch Baby. Instead of creating three separate recipes for each entry, Rebecka decided to make her Dutch Crunch Baby as her Signature Dish and Top 10 Infused Ingredient dish. Her infused ingredient was a choice of three Lipton Iced Tea flavors: Peach, Green Tea Citrus, and/or Mango. Rebecka went with Lipton Mango Iced Tea.

The crunch had lots BACON along with freeze-dried fruits and other ingredients.

The sweet and spicy sauce and filling were made with Lipton Mango Iced Tea, Saucy Mama Taste Domination Scotch Bonnet Pepper & Blackberry Wing Sauce, and other ingredients.

Dutch Crunch Baby all set to be turned in. It was such a beautiful presentation with the cast iron skillet contrasting the golden brown dutch baby, orange mango peach sauce and filling, and blackberry/mint garnish. The taste was also amazing! Delicate dutch baby contrasted with the crunchy topping along with a sweet yet savory flavor from the sweet peaches and tropical mango and smoky, salty bacon. It was a little sweeter than I would have liked but would absolutely love to eat it again! E.A.T. Score: 91.625 out of 100. Final score for the opening round: 92 out of 100, placing her in 8th place. Placing 1st through 10th qualified her to move on to the Top 10 Infused Ingredient Round. Stay tuned!

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

2017 World Food Championships: The Southern Grind Coffee House at The Wharf in Orange Beach, AL

The menu items in this post were provided by The Southern Grind Coffee House but the opinions expressed here are my own.

A drizzly, overcast morning began the fourth day of our road trip and our first day of commuting back and forth from Pensacola, FL. Since this was my first year competing, I thought we might need accommodations that had a dishwasher hence our commute. But a beautiful commute it was with the ocean and sugar sand beaches. Today was a very important day - Bacon World Championships. Oh, how I love the smell of bacon in the morning! But like any sport, food sport in this case, we were going to be standing for 2.5 hours so it was time to carb up.

Our first stop was one my favorite places in The Wharf, The Southern Grind Coffee House. I found this coffee house last year while doing media coverage for the 2016 World Food Championships and saved my feet and legs in between competitions with wonderful food, delicious coffee, and ice cold smoothies. Since it was drizzling, hot coffee and breakfast were in order. While we waited for our food, we looked at the newly expanded space, almost doubling the capacity of the coffee house since last year. I just love the friendly coastal décor which just helps you relax and feel at home. Sweet Home Alabama!

A favorite of mine from last year, Salted Caramel Latte, hit the spot again with luscious foam drizzled with salted caramel atop a medium roast espresso. The great thing is that one of gals remembered it was my favorite. Nothing better like a perfectly executed latte! Rating: 5/5

The hubby had a Mocha. It hit the spot for him and just loved it! It was just sweet enough and paired perfectly with his breakfast. Rating: 5/5

Since we were about to cover the Bacon World Championship, I had to whet my taste buds with the Breakfast Burger. It is a ¼ lb. burger topped with cheddar cheese, over medium egg, bacon, and served on a croissant with a side of chips. This breakfast burger took me to my happy place. The juicy beefy burger, the smoky, salty bacon, the gooey cheddar, and luscious yolky egg enveloped by a buttery, flaky croissant was just out of this world! I think this is going to be my standard order from now on. Rating: 5/5

The hubby ordered the Pear & Pecan Cinnamon French Toast. It is two slices of cinnamon swirl French toast topped with caramelized pears, pecans, whipped cream, powdered sugar, salted caramel drizzle, and served with your choice of bacon, sausage, or ham (the hubby chose sausage). He loved the pairing of sweet and salty for breakfast to balance the flavors. The French toast was not overly sweet, and he loved the grilled porky sausage which paired well with the pear and pecan flavors. Rating: 5/5  

With our morning hunger satiated and mind caffeinated, it was time to take a short walk to the 2017 World Food Championships Kitchen Arena for the Bacon World Championship! Stay tuned!

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Décor: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 5 out of 5 stars

For more information:
4751 Main St Ste 116
Orange Beach, AL 36561
Hours: Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Seating: Interior and exterior
Reservation: None
Dog-friendly: Yes

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The Southern Grind Coffee House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Road Trip to the 2017 World Food Championships: Rails: A Café at the Depot in Kerrville, TX

This post was sponsored by Rails: A Café at the Depot but the opinions expressed here are my own.

A humid, early morning greeted us as we headed out on Day 2 of our road trip to the 2017 World Food Championships in Orange Beach, AL. Starting in El Paso, TX, we traversed 489 miles to our first stop at Rails: A Café at the Depot in Kerrville, TX. Rails is a little over 3 miles from the I-10. As you drive up to it, you can feel the nostalgic aura of this area. This hidden gem is located in the fully-restored 1915 Kerrville Train depot. 

  • History Note: The original wooden depot was built in 1887 and Kerrville was the last stop on the SA&AP (San Antonio & Aransas Pass) Railway and included a manual turntable. After a fire burnt most of the depot in 1913, a new masonry depot was relocated and built in 1915. In 2017, the SA&AP Passenger Depot received Registered Texas Historical Landmark (RTHL) designation and marks. To learn more about the history, visit

The interior has a beautiful and welcoming feeling. There is a lot of natural lighting during the day in the dining room. If it’s a beautiful day outside, they also have a lovely patio dining area lined with a red brick fountain wall and lush greenery. Since it was such a beautiful day, we decided on the patio for our late lunch.

Fresh bread, brought to the table, is all made daily on premises next door at The Sweeter Side of Rails. As the bread finished its baking process, the kitchen staff walks it from the bakery, through the patio, and right into the Rails’ kitchen. It doesn’t get any fresher than that!

Farmer’s Market Grilled Chicken Salad ($11.95) is baby spring mix, green apples, Texas goat cheese, walnuts, and sundried cranberries tossed in raspberry vinaigrette and topped with grilled chicken. After being in a car for almost 6 hours, a refreshing light salad was the perfect cure. All the produce was fresh and crisp. The apple, cranberry, and vinaigrette gave the salad a nice balance of sweet and tangy. The apple and walnuts added a crunchy texture. The Texas goat cheese was one of the best I have ever had – so creamy and did not have that “goaty, barnyard” flavor you might experience from other goat cheeses. The chicken was grilled to perfection – tender and juicy. Rating: 5/5

Osso Bucco ($18.95) is tender, slow-cooked bone-in pork shank served with red skin mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach. This is the best osso bucco I have ever had! The slow-cooking process renders the pork so tender, it was like butter. The demi glace was just amazing with its silky, luscious texture and dark rich hue. You could probably slather that on anything and I would eat it, like those red skin mashed potatoes! I didn’t waste a drop! Even with its richness, it wasn’t heavy. Sautéed spinach was the perfect pairing providing a green and sweet flavor contrast. Rating: 5/5

Linguine Napolitana ($12.95) is linguine sautéed with garlic, olive oil, diced tomatoes, zucchini, capers, and feta cheese. You can add chicken (+$3.95) or shrimp (+$5.95) too. This dish was an ode to the Mediterranean with Italian and Greek flavor profiles. For a pasta dish, it was rather light so it was a great option for lunch. It had an excellent balance of flavors from the zingy garlic, sweet tomatoes, briny capers, and salty feta cheese. The shrimp was perfectly grilled and added a nice smoky flavor to the dish. Rating: 5/5

  • Planner Tip: If you have a corporate event/meeting, wedding, rehearsal dinner, shower, etc., Catering by Rails offers full-service on- or off-site catering. Their Events Hall boasts original oak floors from 1889, beautiful décor, full sound system, wireless microphone, television, PowerPoint capabilities, and host groups as small as 10 to as large as 200.

If you’re a local or just passing through, don’t miss this chance of both a foodie and historic find at Rails: A Café at the Depot!

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Décor: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 5 out of 5 stars

For more information:
615 E. Schreiner St.
Kerrville, TX  78028, United States
Hours: Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Parking: Free parking lot

Rails: A Cafe At The Depot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato