Marie McAden



New SC Campground Cookoff series to kick off in 2014

Posted 9/28/2013 8:15:00 PM

You can’t help it, can you? You’re drooling all over yourself just looking at the photo to the right.

If you think it’s tough resisting the urge to lick your computer screen, imagine what it was like taking one bite of this deliciously decadent dessert and then walking away.

Such was the plight of the three judges tasked with picking the winners of the 2013 Campground Cookoff held last weekend in Calhoun Falls State Park. As one of the judges, I can tell you it wasn’t easy picking the best desserts and main dishes from a lineup that included Chicken Thighs Veronique with Olive and Goat Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes, Dutch Oven Braciole with Creamy Risotto and Carmel Apple Cheesecake.

The winner of the main dish category was titled “Breakfast by the Fire,” a culinary concoction that included everything but the kitchen sink — sausage, eggs, grits, hash browns, cheeses, onions and peppers — topped with a fig glaze.

Taking first place in the dessert category was the chocolate sensation pictured to the right — “M-M-M-Good Dutch Oven Cookie Brownie.”

You can find the winning recipes and all the others entered in the contest at www.sccampgroundcookoff.com.

Sadly, this was the last year of the Calhoun Falls State Park cooking competition sponsored by Old 96 District Tourism. But not to worry. The event has proved so popular, the South Carolina Parks Service is launching a series of campground cookoffs next year at four different parks.

And there’s more good news. They’re changing things up to allow the public to get in on the tasting. Instead of three “celebrity” judges, the first 50 people to register for a campsite at the hosting park will serve as the judges.

Each of the four participating parks will feature a different specialty dish competition. Here’s the lineup:

March 14-16, catfish at Santee State Park
July 25-27, barbecue at Kings Mountain State Park

Nov. 7-9, chicken at Calhoun Falls State Park

Jan. 16-18, grits at Myrtle Beach State Park

Only 25 teams will be allowed to compete in each cookoff, but they will no longer be limited to cooking over an open campfire. They’ll need to prepare enough food to allow up to 50 fellow campers to sample it. Those folks will be voting on the winners.

There’s no charge to compete or judge — just a minimum two-night stay at the campground. I’ll post more details about each of the competitions closer to the date of the events. Meantime, start working on your recipes. I’m looking forward to trying some mighty good eats!