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Food + Drink

State Fair of Texas Announces 2019 Big Tex Choice Awards Semi-Finalists

Making it to the semi-final round isn’t easy, so these concessionaires have something to celebrate.



Photo courtesy of State Fair of Texas

With only 63 days until opening day of the 2019 State Fair of Texas, the competition to make it to the 15th Annual Big Tex Choice Awards is heating up.

State Fair concessionaires are busy perfecting their innovative offerings in hopes of getting into the final round of judging at the coveted event.

After the first round of judging, 33 semi-finalists – 20 savory and 13 sweet entries – are moving forward, putting these contenders one step closer to the main event, where they will compete for one of three winning titles: “Best Taste – Sweet,” “Best Taste – Savory,” and “Most Creative.”

The contest started in mid-July with 49 individual entries from 30 concessionaires. It is required that competitors have at least one year of experience as a concessionaire at the State Fair of Texas before entering.

Making past the first round requires contestants to be super creative with the name and description of their original creations.

Judges are looking for the food with the name and description that sounds most appealing to their personal palette, just like a fairgoer might do while at the Fair.

Over the next several weeks, the second round of preliminary judging will begin, and these edible creations will have to prove to the panel of judges that they are just as delicious as they sound.

The tasting round will judge each semi-finalist on, at minimum, four main ingredients of a finalist-worthy concoction: uniqueness, presentation, creativity and, of course, taste.

To keep everything fair and solely based on the food, judges sample each submission during a “blind judging” throughout the entire process.

Judges will also have to defend their rankings against the seemingly simple yet crucial question – how likely is a fairgoer to actually buy the item?

The top 10 finalists, to be announced in mid-August, will go on to compete live in the final round at this year’s Big Tex Choice Awards ceremony.

Even if your entry of choice does not make it to the main event, concessionaires can still choose to introduce their food at their stand as a “new food” during this year’s State Fair.

The 15th Annual Big Tex Choice Awards, presented by Metro by T-Mobile, will take place Sunday, August 25 at 2pm in the historic Tower Building at Fair Park.

A limited number of tickets are available online for $125. Tickets always sell out, so get yours fast. You do not want to miss the chance to view the competition while getting a first taste of this year’s new Fair foods.

All proceeds from the annual Big Tex Choice Awards competition are donated to the Big Tex Scholarship Program, which provides college scholarships to students across the Lone Star State.

Food + Drink

The Ultimate Cocktail Experience Returns

Some of the best bartenders in the metroplex will come together for a cause.



The Ultimate Cocktail Experience – one of the world’s largest charity cocktail events – is back for its eighth year.

The festivities will take place October 13 at Harlowe MXM, the Deep Ellum spot with one of the city’s best rooftops.

Each year, the event carries a unique theme. This year, the theme is ALL STARS, where winners from the past 5 years will be battling it out for the championship. Each returning winner will captain one of the bars and will be responsible for creating an original concept and menu of drinks.

The bar captains are:

· Kyle Hilla, The Statler

· Zach Smigiel, Billy Can Can

· Andrew Stofko, Te Deseo

· Ravinder Singh, Beverley’s

· Megan McClinton, The Usual

All proceeds from the Ultimate Cocktail Experience will benefit Trigger’s Toys and go toward reducing the financial and emotional stress on chronically-ill children and their families. Through the event, the organization is able to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to assist those in need.

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Food + Drink

Wahlburgers is Coming to Frisco

The celebrity-owned burger joint will open the first Texas outpost this fall at The Star in Frisco.



Jason Witten and Mark Wahlberg (Photo courtesy of Wahlburgers)

At Dallas Cowboys training camp this past Saturday, Mark Wahlberg attended as part of an announcement that Wahlburgers will open its first restaurant in Texas this fall at The Star in Frisco – the Dallas Cowboys World Corporate Headquarters and Training Facility.

The popular casual dining burger and bar concept founded by brothers Mark, Donnie and Chef Paul Wahlberg will bring its diverse lineup of burgers, sandwiches, sides and specialty drinks to one of most popular entertainment districts in North Texas.

“We are all huge sports fans and to be able to open our first Texas location in tandem with a legendary organization like the Dallas Cowboys is icing on the cake,” said Mark Wahlberg.

Wahlberg attended the practice as a special guest of the Cowboys to watch them take the field and also spend time speaking with players, coaches and ownership.

“On behalf of the Jones family, we are excited to team up with the Wahlbergs and bring their successful Wahlburgers restaurant to The Star in Frisco,” said Dallas Cowboys Chief Operating Officer Stephen Jones. “Working together with family to create a solid business with strong values is something both the Joneses and Wahlbergs have in common, and we’re thrilled that our fans and visitors alike will be able to enjoy everything Wahlburgers brings to our campus.”

Created by Executive Chef Paul Wahlberg, the chef-inspired menu features an emphasis on made-to-order, high-quality, delicious food that represents a selection of his family’s favorite dishes they shared together.

The brothers’ favorite burgers include:

  • Donnie’s choice: BBQ Bacon Burger, described as a “spiced-up weekend barbecue on a bun,” topped with white cheddar cheese, bacon, avocado, fresh jalapeños and barbecue sauce
  • Mark’s choice: Thanksgiving Day, “like Thanksgiving leftovers on a bun,” made with fresh ground seasoned turkey, stuffing, Paul’s house made orange-cranberry sauce, roasted butternut squash and mayo
  • Paul’s choice: Wahlburger’s signature Our Burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, government cheese, Paul’s signature Wahl sauce and pickles “just like Dad used to grill in the backyard”

In addition to its line-up of burgers, sandwiches and Wahlbowls, Wahlburgers also provides a full-service bar that makes for a perfect gathering spot for guests, offering a wide selection of cocktails, wine and beer, including its signature Wahlbrewski, a custom brewed unfiltered Pale Ale from Boston-based Harpoon Brewery.

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Around + Beyond

Stampede 66 by Stephan Pyles to Host Five-Course Sangria Dinner

Summertime sangrias and a delicious menu await you.



Stampede 66 by Stephan Pyles at Delta Hotels Dallas Allen continues their monthly pairing dinners with a five-course sangira dinner featuring Messina Hof Winery.

On Monday, August 12 at 6:30pm, Tiffany Hand of Republic National Distributing Company will guide guests through the summertime sangria pairing choices as Chef Pyles and Executive Chef Race describe each course.

Here’s what’s on the menu:

First Course – Shared Appetizers: Ash Baked Brie with Chipotle-Raspberry Jam and Local Goat Cheese Dip with Crudité
Wine: White Apple Peach Sangria

Second Course – Tapas Style: Steamed Mussels, Fried Olives, Pan Con Tomate, Pickled Carrots, Blistered Padron Peppers
Wine: Classic Red Sangria

Third Course: Fried Calamari Taco with Lemon-Garlic Aioli
Wine: White Orange, Lemon & White Grape Sangria

Fourth Course: Grilled Flank Steak, Cilantro Chimichurri, Spicy Chorizo Risotto, Roasted Summer Heirloom Vegetables
Wine: Cherry Blood Orange Red Sangria

Fifth Course: Grilled Summer Fruits, Fruity Pebbles Macaron, Chocolate Salami
Wine: Pink Strawberry Raspberry Sangria

Space is limited. Spots can be reserved for $65 plus tax and gratuity. Please reserve your spot by calling Stampede 66 directly at 469.675.0800.

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