Michele Silva of B97.5 offering a sample of her station’s contest entry: crispy chicken biscuit with chorizo gravy. B-97.5 teamed with Oli Bea for the contest.
The biggest crowd ever packed downtown Saturday to gorge themselves with biscuits large and small, savory and sweet. This is according to John Craig, the “biscuit boss” and founder of the International Biscuit Festival that closes several roads and turns Market Street into Biscuit Boulevard for one day each year.
Restaurants (mostly) set up tents and passed out samples of their creations. Other vendors sold biscuit-related (mostly) products. And, of course, there was a biscuit baking competition, an art show, music on a flatbed truck and a Mr. or Miss Biscuit contest.
Matt Sandbank was named grand champion of the baking contest with his caraway biscuits, which beat out 11 other competitors. Click here for a list of all winners.
All the biscuits were divine, but my favorite of all that I got to taste was one made with, of all things, cauliflower and Benton’s bacon. This was offered in the VIP breakfast reception tent. (I’m not a VIP. I was invited because I purchased tickets to the Southern Food Writing Conference that preceded the biscuit festival. The breakfast reception was included.)
Those biscuits were made by Chadwick Boyd, a food and lifestyle expert hired as a consultant to the biscuit festival. If you’d like a copy of the recipe, click here and scroll to the bottom of the post. I’m telling you, you are going to love these biscuits!
Here are those oh-so-delicious cauliflower and Benton’s bacon biscuits. Everyone raved about them.
Had to have some of my favorite veggie — okra — and the Bloody Mary to which it was affixed!
In the VIP tent, from left, City Council members George Wallace and Marshall Stair and Natalie Stair and Bill Lyons, deputy to Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, (Rogero was out of town attending her son’s wedding.)
Also at the VIP breakfast, from left, Biscuit King Brent Thompson, Biscuit Queen Erin Donovan, and Mark Kelly of Lodge Cast Iron, a sponsor.
Chef Tim Love, who is expected to open Lonesome Dove in the Old City this summer, had one of the most unusual biscuits on the boulevard: Wild Boar Toad in a Hole.
It was baked with ground sausage and an egg inside.
Here’s the finished product.
On the other hand, some biscuits were quite simple like this one called Butter My Biscuit from Alabama’s Prewitt’s Flour Shop.
Chef Bruce Bogartz had two entries: the Boss Hog biscuit and one named Gambino.
Here’s Boss Hog, which contains ham hock and strawberry moonshine sauce.
Gambino consists of the Parmesan garlic biscuits Bogartz serves at his Italian restaurant, Primo, only with pesto on top.
Marble City Kitchen, located at the downtown Hilton, took the People’s Choice award for its Bourbon and Blue biscuit.
It was fun running into my friend Tim Purcell from Pilot Flying J.
Windows on the Park, located in the Holiday Inn World’s Fair, offered Chocolate Strawberry Celebration biscuits.
Swaggerty’s teamed up with the Crowne Plaza to offer Swaggerty’s Between the Biscuit.
I heard people ecstatically discussing this biscuit called the Ricky Bobby by Deep South Biscuit Company from Atlanta. It contains buttermilk fried chicken, thick cut pepper bacon and cheddar cheese smothered in sawmill gravy. Wow.
Bruce and Monique Anderson had a secret for getting their tickets and avoiding the long, long ticket line. But I told them I wouldn’t tell.
Murray’s cheese offered a biscuit smeared with Blackberry Farm apple butter topped with young Manchego cheese and Vermont Creamery goat cheese on a Firehook cinnamon sugar cracker with Tru Bee honey.
Tearsa Smith and Bo Williams were working the WATE tent.
Ha. Loved this T-shirt.
Blue Coast Grill & Bar was giving out Soda Pop Biscuits. They held fresh pesto, vine ripe tomato, mozzarella, a balsamic reduction and olive oil.
That’s what Ellen Bebb and City Councilman Finbarr Saunders were tasting in this picture.
Cary Brown of Blackberry Farm was passing out samples of various Blackberry Farm products on pieces of biscuit.
Soon, it was time to head over to the cooking tent and check out the contests.
From left, Chris Kahn, Patrice Shallow and Rosa Mar were running the show.
Kathleen Squires of the Wall Street Journal was one of the judges. Nice to see she takes pictures of her food just like the rest of us!
So does judge Von Diaz of NPR’s “StoryCorps” program.
Justin Chapple of Food and Wine magazine hard at work on his judging job.
My favorite judge! Mary Constantine of the News Sentinel.
Brent Thompson, left, gives the Grand Champion award to Matt Sandbank.
Hahaha! Talk about a good sport, Chapple of Food and Wine entered the Mr. or Miss Biscuit contest. Here he’s attempting to walk across the stage while balancing two biscuits on his head. It was part of the “poise” competition. (He did not win!)
Finally, a big shout out to the “biscuit boss,” John Craig. This picture was taken from my living room window at about 7:30 before the festival started.
Here’s a picture from the same window a few hours later.