Steak Cook-Off Surpasses Goal of 1,000 Steaks
Published on Sunday, 29 January 2012 19:04
If the crowds at Saturday's 2nd annual Sunshine State Steak Cook-Off are any indication, the contest is on its way to becoming one of the premier food-oriented events in Florida.
The number of grill teams doubled to 18 this year and organizers said they sold more than 1,100 steaks, twice as many as at the first steak cook-off last year.
"It was a great day," said a weary Tom Smith, who was responsible for establishing the steak cook-off in Ave Maria and who was the event's chief organizer.
The steak cook-off capped the Family Fun Festival, a day of family-oriented activities in the Ave Maria town center that raises money for scholarships to the Rhodora Donahue Academy, a k-12 private school in the town.
The streets began filling up with people shortly before 3 p.m., when the grills were lit and clouds of charcoal smoke began to enshroud the town center.
The trophy for the best steak in Florida was awarded to a team calling itself the Grill Sergeants, (left) composed of Barron Collier employees. Judging was done in blind tests, at which the panel of seven judges did not know who cooked the steaks they were tasting. Second place went to a team of Immokalee residents led by Johnny Gutierrez and third place was taken by Bart Zino of PBS construction, who is the grillmaster at Immokalee's annual Farm City Barbecue.
Organizers also awarded their Holy Smokes trophy, recognizing the team they felt had the most spirit and promotion, to the Hot Pursuit grill team from Beckner's Jewelry & Repair, whose members sported auto-racing style uniforms in keeping with team leader Alan Beckner's passion for NASCAR racing. (Right, the Hot Pursuit team with organizer Tom Smith)
Other scenes from the steak cook-off:
Ave Maria's Cub Scout pack led the "parade of grills" that kicked off the day's festivities Saturday morning.
The team from the Ave Maria Oratory council of the Knights of Columbus chose a novel way to display their grill in the parade.
Third-place finisher Bart Zino (at right on photo) seasoning his steaks.
A highlight of the Family Fun Festival was a visit from the Kowiachobee animal preserve which showed several animals including a black spotted leopard, an iguana and two skunks. In photo, Sr. Catherine Thomas pets a cinnamon white skunk.
Tom Smith, cutting one of the steaks for the panel of judges.
The Chick Fil-A mascot used the occasion of a steak cook-off to urge people to eat chicken instead, and handed out cards good for a free chicken sandwich.
People of all ages enjoyed dancing to music played by the oldies group the Dazzling Del-Rays.
The steak cook-off is a favorite of Marco the dog, whose patience gazing at the steaks cooking was finally rewarded by Dana Hills of Big Papa's Country Kitchen. The Naples resident and his wife travel all over the United States competing in barbecue competitions.