This year is the first time that more than one food vendor took home the crown for Golden Abe's Fantastic Fair Food Competition at the Illinois State Fair. Two chefs took home prizes, one for the sweet category and one for the savory food choice. The State Journal-Register journalists reported that Ken Haarstad from Classic Kitchen, which is located in Austin, Minnesota, walked away with the top prize for his savory dish, the hot beef sundae.
Comprised of whole kernel corn resting on the bottom, the sundae has a slow cooked piece of roast beef, scoop of mashed potatoes, and is topped with gravy, shredded cheese, and a cherry tomato on the top. Indeed, this hearty dish does resemble an ice cream sundae, as it is partially named.
Haarstad spoke out about his sundae, remarking on its uniqueness, saying, "I think it's something different. You don't see it any place. It's not at every fair, either. It's something good to eat. It's a good meal."
Those who have been dinning at The Classic Kitchen have been able to taste this particular hot beef sundae since 2011, but this was Haarstad's first time entering his dish into the Golden Abe's Fantastic Fair Food Competition at the Illinois State Fair. In fact, he was hesitant to do so until another fairgoer convinced Haarstad otherwise. Since winning the top price for his savory meal, the chef says he will display the official Golden Abe bobblehead award at his stand across from the Grandstand, cites the State Journal-Register.
"We'll have that and the plaque, everything up there so everyone can see it."For the sweets category, Paulette Keene of Paulette's Food Service — located in Pinckneyville, Illinois — won for her turtle funnel cake. This was not her first time entering the Golden Abe's Fantastic Fair Food Competition at the Illinois State Fair. She has also won for a prior dessert; Keene's strawberry shortcake funnel cake brought her home a prize from the sweets category in the past, but came up short of getting her the grand prize, unlike her turtle funnel cake of this year's competition. Speaking to reporters, Keene was excited to win the bobblehead.
"I've been coming here for 25 years. I live in Illinois, so it's an honor to receive the award."Haartad had also submitted a sweet dish to the dessert category; however, his funnel fingers lost to Keene's turtle funnel cake.
In addition to the bobblehead, Friday's winners also recieved $250 USD as part of their grand prize.