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Saturday, April 13, 2024

From Drunken Cubans to Bacon-Wrapped Meatballs: EggFest Offers Good Eats

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From Drunken Cubans to Bacon-Wrapped Meatballs: EggFest Offers Good Eats

Nothing beats a good old-fashioned Cuban sandwich. But what if you could enjoy all of that delicious flavor, not between two slices of bread, but inside a giant dill pickle?

That idea is the very concept of the Drunken Cuban—a dill pickle cored and stuffed with green-chili pork butt, salami, and cheese and drowned in pickle juice. These stuffed pickles prove popular with the award-winning team, Nibble Me This, at the annual Chain of Lakes EggFest, sponsored by Mannix Pools.

Chris Grove, the head team member, has been attending EggFest since its inception. His group of friends has been meeting with each other for 30 years from all across the country, from Knoxville to Tampa and Ontario. They choose the Chain of Lakes EggFest as their big annual get-together event.

The name of the group was inspired by his food blog, which he started in 2008. He has been cooking with Big Green Egg ceramic grills for more than a decade, and he has compiled many of his recipes in his cookbook: “The Kamado Smoker and Grill Cookbook.”

Grove loves the flexibility of the grill. He can cook everything and anything on it. He loves to showcase his recipes at the annual EggFest, as well as try the unique dishes prepared by other participating teams.

“I love that you can smoke with it, sear on it, cook pizza on it,” he said. “You can do anything with a Big Green Egg. If you can cook it in your kitchen, you can cook it on an Egg…We come out and enjoy mingling with the crowds. It is our way to give back to the community.”

Nibble Me This was one of the countless cooking teams attending this year’s EggFest, hosted at the Boys and Girls Club of Winter Haven last weekend. Several dozen vendors showcased their cooking talents with unique food items prepared on Big Green Egg grills, from pineapple and sausage kebabs to brisket cheesesteaks and bacon-wrapped meatballs.

On Friday and Saturday, for the price of admission, attendees could enjoy all-you-can-eat food, as well as live entertainment, raffles, and drinks. Proceeds from the event go towards the Boys and Girls Club of Winter Haven and Girls Inc. of Winter Haven.

BJ Mannix, the owner of Mannix Pools, appreciates how the community has kept the event going for several years, and how it brings everyone together to enjoy good food for a good cause.

“This year is starting out to be the best year yet,” he said. “We have amazing support from local community businesses. We have more sponsorship dollars than any other year we have. I bring that up because the community has stepped up to the plate… I cannot stress enough that our success is based on the community.”

Melanie Brown Culpepper, who volunteered with Grove Roots to sell refreshments, loves the event. She and her fellow volunteers work hard to put on the event, and she is glad to see such a warm reception for it.

“It is amazing,” she said. “A beautiful day. We worked hard this whole year to put on this event. It will be one of the best one yet. This is for a good cause that supports the Boys and Girls Club. Also Girls Inc. That is what we are here for. Just the community coming out.”

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