Serious Eats

We Were There: World Cheese Dip Championship in Little Rock, Arkansas

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[Photographs: Leif Hassell and Kat Robinson]

Thousands turned out for the second annual World Cheese Dip Championship after last year's super successful showing. This year the venue was moved to the much larger War Memorial Stadium on the south side of the river to accommodate the bigger turnout.

Last year event organizers Nick Rogers and John McClure had expected about three thousand people; instead, over 6,000 hungry queso fans showed up, eager to dip their chip. The crew actually had to send out for more chips and competitors ran out of dip early on. Arkansawyers sure love their cheese dip.

This year they were prepared. Competitors were asked to come with ten gallons each of cheese dip (Dizzy's brought a whole 30 gallons!) and Texas tortilla maker La Mexicana supplied more chips than anyone could consider eating in a lifetime.

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Among the judges were various local media representatives and celebrities, members of different charities, and Little Rock's own mayor Mark Stodola. They sampled 23 different dips, one from each of the competitors, cleansing their palate in between samplings with water, soda, beer and/or lemon berry sorbet.

Hundreds of attendees were lined up by 1:30 p.m. when the gates opened and they continued coming in, wave after wave. Some (such as yours truly) brought muffin tins to hold the different small cups of offered chips and dip (smart, right?). Others stacked theirs, eating one sample as they waited in line for the next.

We sampled all sorts of dips: some yellow, some white, some with meat, some without.

I made it my point to try every single one.

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  1. A view of some of the sample cups
  2. Yellow with tenderloin from Nash Raley Rogers Rippy Law Firm
  3. American Pie Pizza's pepper laced white queso
  4. A smoky yellow Velveeta-type dip from Eureka Springs' Basin Park Hotel
  5. A strongly flavored spice packed yellow queso from Cozymel's
  6. Jose's Mexican Grill and Cantina's gloriously light white chili infused queso
  7. Stoby's spicy white cheese dip
  8. The cayenne and pecan packed beer and sharp white cheddar dip from Cabot Cheese
  9. A classic Velveeta and Rotel dip from the Yahoo.com team
  10. Ferneau's lobster-bisque-esque red dip
  11. U.S. Pizza Company's spicy pepper-filled Judy's white cheese dip
  12. A chili flavored dip from Mitchell Williams
  13. The impossibly smooth (and impossibly white) queso from Moe's Southwest Grill
  14. The traditional Mexico Chiquito-esque dip from Dogtown Coffee and Cookery
  15. The onion-laden Dizzy's Gypsy Bistro entry from last year
  16. A Philly Cheesesteak dip from Ben E. Keith
  17. Team Roberts a Cheesy Couple's Spinach Queso
  18. Momma Chelle's Buffalo Wing inspired dip
  19. Pizza D'Action's beef tenderloin queso
  20. A mild yellow dip from Meadors Adams Lee.
  21. A smooth and slightly runny yellow queso from Junior's Game Time
  22. DD's Dip's chili-powder laden tomato and cheese dip
  23. Bar Louie's b├ęchamel-style light cheese dip
  24. The pepper-packed white queso from The Concheeztadors
  25. Tortillas from La Mexicana

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Nick Rogers, Cheese Dip Guru

During the cheese dip chowdown, the Arkansas-Auburn game played on the big screen. After four and a half hours of cheese-dipping, Nick Rogers, who created the fever with his film In Queso Fever, took to the stage and announced this year's winners.

Winners

Professional Big Dipper (Overall Winner)
Dogtown Coffee and Cookery from North Little Rock, AR

Amateur Big Dipper (Overall Winner)
Concheeztadors from Sherwood, AR

Professional Little Dipper (Second Place)
Dizzy's Gypsy Bistro (Professional Big Dipper 2010), Little Rock, AR

Amateur Little Dipper (Second Place)
Team Roberts, One Cheesy Couple, Little Rock, AR

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Professional People's Champion
Dizzy's Gypsy Bistro, Little Rock, AR

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Amateur People's Champion
Team Roberts, One Cheesy Couple, Little Rock, AR

Best Meat Incorporation - Professional
Balcony Restaurant Culinary Team, Eureka Springs, AR

Best Meat Incorporation - Amateur
Momma Chelle's Cheese Dip Central, Sherwood, AR

Professional Most Innovative Cheese Dip
Ferneau Restaurant, Little Rock, AR

Amateur Most Innovative Cheese Dip
Concheeztadors, Sherwood, AR

Best Professional Booth Theme and Overall Design
Moe's Southwest Grill, Little Rock, AR

Best Amateur Booth Theme and Overall Design
dd's dip, Little Rock, AR

Media Cheese Dip Chow Down Champion
Spencer Watson, Sync Weekly, 2.1lbs in 5 minutes

Cheese Dip Chow Down Champion
Chris Blankenship, 4.1 pounds in 5 minutes

Cheese dip champs Dogtown Coffee and Cookery will send its crack team of chefs to New Orleans this March to participate in the New Orleans Roadfood Festival, representing Arkansas with cheese dip.

About the author: Kat Robinson is a writer and storyteller out of Little Rock, AR who writes the Arkansas Times' Eat Arkansas blog and who explores Arkansas and the American South looking for great stories, interesting people and the next great meal--especially if it involves pie.

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