Tylerites Battle It Out For Title In Steak Cookoff
By Taylor Griffin
The bustle of competition was evident in the FRESH by Brookshire's parking lot on Saturday, as the distinct smell of grilled meat permeated the air.
Restored hot rods sat shining in the mid afternoon heat as teams of amateur and professional food fanatics showcased their best culinary skills.
Nine teams from area companies and restaurants put their best foot -- or steak -- forward as they competed for the title of "Ace of Steaks" at FRESH by Brookshire's second annual Steak Cookoff, benefiting the East Texas Food Bank.
"The competition was a little tougher than last year," Herb Turner, FRESH market manager, said. "We had some good teams, and it was a close race."
The event was part of FRESH's Taste of Texas Food and Music Extravaganza, a celebration of the unique cuisine, music and people of Texas. Live music events, food demonstrations, and guest chefs will be featured until June 10.
Teams from KTBB, Tricky Mojo, Oak Properties, Classic Toyota, Merrill Lynch, High Steak Litigation, Villa Montez, Foodie'ventures and Cibo Vino all competed for the coveted title.
Local celebrity judges were present, including Mayor Barbara Bass, Sheriff J.B. Smith, ETFB executive director Dennis Cullinane, Will Knous with BSCENE magazine, and
food editor Christine Gardner.
The judges looked for three key components of a perfect steak: overall presentation, rich flavor and the target doneness. All areas of judging were based on a scale of one to 10, making the contest fairer, Turner said.
Oak Properties snagged first place, while Classic Toyota took second place and KTBB took third.
"It's exciting and fun, but we're here for the food bank," Steve Thornton, of Oak Properties, said. "We were here last year, and we were gunning for Bryan Mead (last year's winner)."
Tim Smith and Christopher Cobarrubia of Foodie'ventures explained that this event was a first for them and said they have an extremely unique take on ordinary foods.
"We do some unusual things to our steaks," Smith said laughingly. "Some things we do are just wrong."
While the duo did not claim a title, they plan on returning next year with a vengeance and using the advice they received to beat out the competition.
Visitors to the event could buy tickets for a tantalizing steak dinner following the afternoon-long competition, and all proceeds went directly to the food bank.
FRESH loves to host events that tempt Tyler's taste buds while also giving back, said Myste Snow, sales and marketing manager at FRESH.
"It's a great reflection of how Tyler can support non-profit organizations," she said.
Turner said the overall goal of the store is to educate and share the joy of food and cooking, and through events like the cook-off, more people can contribute and have the same passion.
"We do this (event) to bring more folks out here," Turner said. "Some people still don't understand exactly what we are. You have to see it, and you have to taste it."