While I was at Harrah's Tunica for The Neelys Live!, I had two detours: checking out the Smokin' Aces BBQ Championship and Paula Deen's Buffet.
I made it to the contest sometime after the finalists were named but before the prizes were handed out. The beast pictured above was made by Whole Hog Cafe.
The grand champion of the event was Natural Born Grillers, which took home the middle trophy:
Timing was an issue, too, in regards to Paula Deen's Buffet. Specifically, I did not have enough time before the start of The Neelys Live!, maybe 20 minutes or so. The place is massive, with at least five different stations: a dessert bar, seafood, steak, salad bar, and one devoted to dishes from The Lady & Sons, the Savannah, Georgia, restaurant that served as the launching pad for Deen's career.
A place of this scope demands a strategy and a clear head. Instead I tore at the Lady & Sons section like a shark after chum.
The picture is awful, but what I got was mac & cheese, a cheese biscuit, mashed potatoes, a fried green tomato, and an unidentifiable dessert bar.
It was carb-y, buttery, and a little embarrassing ... totally in keeping with the Paula Deen spirit, right?