Chelsea Madren aka OC Food Diva: Johnsonville's The Sausage Dome Champion, World Food Championships E.A.T. Certified Food Judge, KCBS Certified BBQ Judge, Brand Ambassador, Culinary Researcher, Food & Travel Critic, Food Competitor, and Recipe Developer
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2016 WFC Day 2: Bacon World Championship and World Steak Championship
my lovely breakfast at The Southern
Grind Coffee House, I was off to meet up with Jodi Taffel, a.k.a. The Fabulous Bacon Babe, for the
opening round of the Bacon World Championship. The opening round for Bacon has
two heats. The first is to present a bacon cornbread for the structured part.
The second is to present a signature dish, which may already be an award-winning
dish that qualified each competitor for World Food Championships.
Jodi slicing up slab bacon for chili
each heat, she will need to make one “Hero”, which is the full-size
presentation plate that the judges use to score for “Appearance”, and five
sample plates. Depending on the heat, the competitors can make a smaller
version of their “Hero” or cut a tasting portion from a full-size dish. It is
the competitor’s choice. But, regardless of how the dishes are prepared, all
six plates must fit on the silver tray for turn-in. It can sometimes can be
like puzzle pieces, trying to place the plates just right so you are able to
carry them to turn-in without them sliding off the tray.
the first heat, Jodi made a Jalapeno Bacon Cheddar Cornbread Cupcake filled
with slab bacon chili and topped with bacon infused sour cream “icing”, cherry
tomato, and bacon sprinkles. When you say bacon, Jodi is all in with slab bacon
she brought from SoCal and Hormel
Black Label Pecanwood Smoked Thick Cut Bacon. Hormel, you need to supply
SoCal with this bacon! It is fantastic! I was so happy that Jodi made a mini
version just for me to try. I swear, if you didn’t know bacon was the
competition, this looked like a sweet cupcake. She knew her audience (judges)
and made a perfect southern-style cornbread, not too sweet with bacon flavor
from the bacon fat she added into the batter. The bacon slab chili was hearty
and made a nice contrast of texture. The sour cream “icing” balanced the
heartiness of the chili adding cool, creamy flavor to the mix. Suzanne Clark provided the
dishes for this heat. They had a coastal look to them like sea foam bubbles.
Perfect for Orange Beach! If I had judged this dish, I would have scored it: E –
10, A – 10, T – 10. Perfect in all aspects! Her actual score for this heat was
the second heat, Jodi made Blackberry Ginger Balsamic Infused Bacon Steam Buns
with ginger scallion relish, bacon lap xiong fried rice topped with a fried
quail egg, and pickled vegetables. She definitely put the pedal to the metal on
this one with full Chinese flavor. Steam buns, or bao (or we call it manapua in
Hawaii), is the Chinese version of a sandwich. They are usually in two forms –
round steamed or baked dough with filled with meat and/or vegetables or bun
which look more like a bun split in half like a sandwich or taco. Pork belly
bao is one of the hottest dishes around. You are likely to see it as an
appetizer in most SoCal restaurants. Again, Jodi made me a mini size version
and it was a pocket of goodness. The blackberry ginger balsamic braise flavored
the pork belly as well as tenderize it. It was soft like butter and had a delicate
bacon flavor with the perfect balance of sweet and tart. The bao was fluffy and
steamed to perfection. As you might expect, I LOVED the bacon lap xiong fried
rice! I could eat a whole dish of that with a fried egg on top! If I had judged
this dish, I would have scored it: E – 10, A – 10, T – 10. Perfect in all
aspects, but I was worried about the Asian flavors for this crowd of judges.
Her score for this heat was 88.375, giving her a total of 88.125. She placed 8th
for the round qualifying her for the Top 10 Round of Bacon. Stay tuned for more
from the Bacon Babe!
an ice-cold smoothie at The Southern Grind Coffee House, I headed over to the
judges’ tent for the World Steak Championship. As media, I was allowed to take
photos but not allowed to take any notes so I’m working from memory on these. In
the structured heat, the competitors needed to turn in their best version of a
Steak Oscar. A traditional Steak Oscar is filet mignon topped with crab,
asparagus, and hollandaise.
Oscar 1 – This was the perfect picture of a Steak Oscar with a perfect doneness
of medium rare on the filet. I loved that they used king crab meat. The
asparagus was al dente and not soggy or overcooked. The hollandaise could have
been a little thicker. Risotto was a nice touch.
Oscar 2 – This was not the picture-perfect Steak Oscar. The steak was cut into
strips and ended up being overcooked with a rubbery, tough texture. The crab
tasted like it was canned and was very dry. The hollandaise had a nice texture.
Asparagus was cooked al dente. I’m not sure why it was served with a lime
wedge, but if you need to put citrus on your seafood, don’t bother plating it.
I think this was a big execution error by overcooking the steak and also using
the wrong type of steak.
Oscar 3 – This has a beautiful presentation and the use of lobster instead of
crab worked, sort of like a surf & turf dish. I loved the accents of caviar
for a bit of briny flavor. The tenderloin was perfectly cooked and had a nice
char on the outside. I didn’t care for the relish on top as it was too acidic.
But all in all, a really great dish.
Oscar 4 – It looks like a Steak Oscar. Hollandaise could have used more yolk
for a more golden color. Sorry, but I do not remember what this one tasted
Oscar 5 – This was another nicely presented dish. I thought the steak was a tad
over cooked and overly charred on the outside. Having a bacon wrapped scallop
that is deep-fried sounds like a good idea, but it made the dish overly heavy. The seafood is supposed to counter the
heaviness of the steak. However, these would be great as an appetizer for a
the signature heat, the competitors could turn in a signature dish, which may
already be an award-winning dish that qualified each competitor for World Food
1 – Steak was grilled to perfection and had a good flavor to it. I loved the
grits underneath! I may not be a Southerner, but I love me some grits!
2 – This was their version of a Beef Wellington or Filet De Boeuf En Croute.
The puff pastry was not cooked all the way and was raw on the bottom, but it
did have a lovely golden brown color on the outside. The tenderloin inside was
perfectly cooked but very under seasoned. I liked that salt crystals were added
as a finishing touch but it would have been better to have it seasoned while it
3 – Tomahawk steak with a beautiful barbaric, manly presentation. I was almost
grunting like Tim Allen on Home Improvement (RRR, RRR, RRR). The steak was grilled
to perfection with just the right amount of char flavor. Although lovely to
look at, the steak as under seasoned and could have used a dose of finishing
salt for the tasting portions. It just needed a little to bring out that
buttery flavor from the fat in the ribeye.
4 – I do not remember anything about this one. Sorry.
5 – This bone-in ribeye was also a beauty. It was grilled to perfection but
again under seasoned. I think with beef in general, it can take more salt to
bring out the buttery flavor from the fat and push the beef flavor forward.
6 – This dish felt more like breakfast. The steak was a little overdone and a
little chewy. The egg was a bit odd. I love a runny egg, but it included some
of the white that was not cooked giving the dish a slimy texture.
a day of bacon and steak behind me, it was time to head back to the hotel and
get comfy for my impending food coma.