A couple of the Buffet o’ Blog staff attended the National Cheese Dip Competition this year. Let me just say it was AWESOME! And let me also add that next time attendance is required for all Buffet o’ Blog staff — just because you don’t want to miss it.
Perhaps I should quantify my opinion. It wasn’t like a carnival or state fair — there were a few side activities and music, but the primary event was trying lots of different cheese dip recipes. If that sounds like a good time to you, then you should definitely go.
There were around 15 entries in the competition, including both amateurs and professionals. Fortunately, there was plenty of cheese dip to go around, at least while we were there. And all but one of the cheese dips were good. The one that failed was trying to be healthy — which may not have been the whole problem — but it was both too liquidious (runny) and grainy at the same time, somehow. Perhaps just that one batch was messed up, because I can’t see them entering that.
I think the amateurs outperformed the professionals in the competition, and I even voted for an amateur group. When the final results came out, my choice didn’t win, but I don’t think the voting results are necessarily fair. Each person who attends the competition gets two votes. However, additional votes can be purchased, which is where I think it’s not fair. For a restaurant entering, it would be worth investing several hundred dollars for more votes, in the name of advertising. Being able to display the championship logo and advertising that you won the National Cheese Dip Competition is a big deal! That will result in more sales, no doubt. For amateurs, a group with more money can sway the votes in their favor. So I don’t pay much attention to who won.
Most of the entrants were from around this area, but one group was from San Francisco. I learned that most people there don’t know what cheese dip is, but a guy from Jacksonville, AR, married a woman from San Francisco, moved out there, and told them they should sell it in their restaurant. On a related note, all of the entrants were friendly, and it was just non-crowded enough that you could talk for a bit with them, which made the experience more fun. We enjoyed asking them what made their cheese dip special, or what the secret ingredient was — we received some amusing answers.
Overall, I would give the event 4.5 stars out of 5. The only real knock against it is that they didn’t have sweet tea. (Hello, we are in the South here! Besides, tea is very profitable.) At least the bottled water and other beverages were affordable.
Speaking of profitable, all proceeds were donated to a group that performs medical services for those who can’t afford it. That’s admirable.
Also, if you’re wondering why the National Cheese Dip Competition would be located in Little Rock, Arkansas, I’ll explain that in the next post.