Oklahoma State Fair begins with food fight

Heavy rains can't slow down the Oklahoma State Fair's annual Great Taste of the Fair contest.
by Dave Cathey Modified: September 13, 2012 at 9:14 pm •  Published: September 14, 2012

The Oklahoma State Fair did the two things Thursday that it does best on opening day: introduce deep-fried foods dappled in chocolate, bacon — or both — on a stick, and bring the rain.

As it has for the past three years, the Great Taste of a Fair contest opened the 11-day event. Seventeen of the dozens of fair food vendors put forth their best dish to a panel of eight judges, who ranked the top two dishes in four categories: Best Tasting Savory, Best Tasting Sweet, Most Unique Savory and Most Unique Sweet.

For the first time in the three-year contest, the chicken-on-a-stick from Ragin' Cajun didn't take home the gold in Best Tasting Savory item. First-time fair vendor Burger and Chili Shack, run by Dallas resident Tom Grace, edged the two-time champs with his Juicy Lucy burger. To defeat Pensacola, Fla., native James Harvell and his famous homemade hot sauce, Grace served the signature burger that features a patty stuffed with cheese.

At the Burger and Chili Shack, fairgoers can custom-order their burger to include mushrooms, jalapenos, onions or whatever their heart desires. The Ragin' Cajuns didn't win, but they did finish a close second as the chicken was just as juicy as always and that homemade hot sauce was just as satisfying.

Perennial champion Coco Flow, owned and operated by Oklahoma City's master chocolatier Gene Leiterman, blew away the judges' table with an Oklahoma Cabernet Chocolate Souffle. Topped with homemade Chantilly cream and fresh cut strawberries, this chocolate explosion was the class of the entries, whether sweet or savory. Leiterman has finished first, second and first in the three-year-old competition.

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by Dave Cathey
Food Editor
The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene.
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