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Chuck Wagon Cook-Off in Pigeon Forge

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Saddle up, cowpokes. It’s time to head to south for a taste of the American West. The annual Pigeon Forge Chuck Wagon Cook-off – held at Clabough’s Campground on Saturday and Sunday, March 4 and 5, 2017 – features a meat-and-potatoes throw-down, Tennessee’s tribute to the wild, Wild West, when men were cowboys, women were ladies and dinner was rustled up over an open flame.

Chuck Wagon Cook-Off in Pigeon Forge

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Saddle up, cowpokes. It’s time to head to south for a taste of the American West. The annual Pigeon Forge Chuck Wagon Cook-off – held at Clabough’s Campground on Saturday and Sunday, March 4 and 5, 2017 – features a meat-and-potatoes throw-down, Tennessee’s tribute to the wild, Wild West, when men were cowboys, women were ladies and dinner was rustled up over an open flame.

 

 

Several years ago, I was a judge for the cook-off. While I loved meeting the cooks and tasting their delicious dishes, I didn’t care for my role. Turns out, the judge has to taste each course separately, so it’s eight samples of meat, followed successively by eight scoops of potatoes, beans, bread and dessert. Although necessary, it was not for this disciple of the “rotation method” of eating, where you have a forkful of each item on the plate!

 

 

The event is headlined by Kent Rollins, Food Network star and Official Chuck Wagon of Oklahoma. Rollins has appeared on “Chopped Grill Masters,” “Chopped Redemption” and “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” – beating Flay with his chicken fried steak. The author of Taste of Cowboy also holds an undefeated record on NBC’s “Food Fighters.” Currently at work on his second cookbook, he will next be seen in an upcoming episode of “Cut Throat Kitchen.”

 

 

Rollins will be on hand to cook and demonstrate his unique style of culinary expertise, which he calls pure cowboy, “cast iron and live fire grilling using simple down-to-earth recipes with a southwest flair – from sourdough biscuits to bread pudding with a whiskey cream sauce.”

 

 

More than 10 chuck wagons from across the country will compete for top honors in this one-of-a-kind cooking competition, including most authentic wagon. And just as you see food trucks today lining up next to one another in the urban prairie, these mobile kitchens of the 19th century were the original circling of the wagons to provide food for hungry diners.

 

 

Although not a judge for the competition, Rollins knows what he likes in a chuck wagon repast, and taste and creativity top the list.

 

 

“Does it look tasty? I first eat with my eyes,” he said. “Would I go back for seconds? Does it represent the era?”

 

 

In fact, the emphasis at the competition is on the authentic, and participating chuck wagons must meet stringent guidelines about cookware and cooking preparations. On the menu? Meat, beans, potatoes or corn, bread and dessert. All food must be prepared onsite and condiments are at the cook’s discretion.

 

 

Unveiling the ingredients to competitors at their campsite the morning of the cook-off adds an element of surprise to the day. Still, these modern-day cookies can whip up a stick-to-your-ribs feast worthy of the most trail-hardened cattle drivers.

 

 

At noon on Saturday, a lunch featuring the from-scratch dishes prepared for the competition will be served. Tickets are $12.50 each.

 

 

Other activities include an old-time Western Buckaroo Roundup with roping and branding demos; western poetry and music; strolling cowboy look-a-likes; free tours of Sisters on the Fly’s Cowgirl Caravan of vintage trailers; and Cowboy Church. The latter will be held on Sunday at Stages West and preceded by a chuck wagon breakfast prepared by Kent and Shannon Rollins. Tickets are $5.

 

 

For information and tickets, visit www.mypigeonforge.com.

 

 January 27, 2017

 

PHOTOS

 

Food Network star Kent Rollins of Red River Ranch was proclaimed by the governor Oklahoma the Official Chuck Wagon of the Sooner State.

Photo: Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism

 

<pics labeled 1, and3>Competitors from the previous year’s cook-off create their chuck wagon masterpieces.

Photo: Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism

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