Ever wanted to know about life on the frontier in the 1880s? How they lived or what they cooked? Then check out the Annual Chandler Chuck Wagon Cook-off on Nov. 7 at Tumbleweed Ranch at Tumbleweed Park.
This free culinary event offers visitors an opportunity to learn about the cattle drives of the 1880s. With wagon teams authentically portraying cowboys, their western lifestyle and the kind of food they cooked.
Now in its sixth year, the cook-off attracts dozens of chuck wagon and western enthusiasts from across the country and around Arizona. It's the signature event for the Chandler Museum, as well as an event of pride for the City of Chandler.
"The event has grown in different ways. The first year we had four wagons and now we have 13 wagons participating," says Tiffani Egnor, Curator of Education at the Chandler Museum. "This year, we have also incorporated unique activities for attendees, including a Choose Your Own Adventure exhibit where people can choose the path they would take on the cattle drive."
All of the competitors use slow-cook and wood-fire cooking methods, just as they did in the 1880s. Dutch ovens are a mainstay among their cookware. Starting at sunrise on the morning of the competition, participating teams create enough for 50 people to have a five-course meal all cooked on an open fire. This event is a foodie's paradise with each chuck wagon team presenting its unique recipe on mouth-watering roasted meats, buttered rolls, smoky beans, golden potatoes and sweet cobblers.
"As the organizer of the event, we provide them with the ingredients so they all start out on an even playing field but they can use their own seasonings that are authentic to the period," says Egnor. "It is a bit like Iron Chef. And, like Iron Chef our judges are meticulous, giving teams points on the food's appearance, taste and texture. Competitors are vying for awards and cash prizes."
In addition to the cook-off, there will be storytelling, Western artists, cooking demonstrations and family-friendly activities, including hayrides to the Railroad Museum. . This year's live music is provided by Pioneer Pepper and the Sunset Pioneers. After the morning excitement, pre-registered youth will get the chance to cook like a pioneer during the junior chuck wagon cook-off competition.
This event is presented by the Chandler Museum, Biscitflats Chuck Wagon and Pardners of Tumbleweed Ranch. Admission to the event is free and meal tickets cost $12 for a five-course meal. Meal tickets go on sale November 7, at 10 a.m., with lunch served at 12 p.m. Come early because tickets sell out fast!
Tumbleweed Ranch is located at Tumbleweed Park, 2250 S. McQueen Road, in the southeast corner of the park.
For more information, please visit the Chuck Wagon Cook-off webpage at: http://www.chandleraz.gov/default.aspx?pageid=289