Steak Cook-Off Returning in January as Parish Event

Published on Thursday, 29 September 2016 15:06

Ave Maria's popular Sunshine State Steak Cook-Off is under new management.

The event, billed as the largest steak cook-off east of the Mississippi River, has drawn thousands to Ave Maria since its inception in 2011 as a fundraiser for the Donahue Academy. But steak apparently lost its sizzle for the school, which decided over the summer not to hold it again.

Now, the Ave Maria quasi-parish has stepped in to take over the event, which will be held Jan. 28 in its usual format – grill teams ringing the oratory in the town center competing for the bragging rights for cooking the best steak in Florida.

"It's been a tradition of Ave which brings people together and benefits the town," said Fr. Cory Mayer, the parish pastor. "The goal is to keep it going."

Proceeds this time will benefit the Diocese of Venice Faith Appeal, he said.

The state cookoff this year will be held in conjunction with a new Ave Maria Development event called "Great American Saturday," which will have a number of family-oriented activities in the town center before the steaks start coming off the grills around 5 p.m.

The steak cookoff has drawn grill teams from as far away as Texas, but residents and businesses in town have been its core competitors.

"I was so glad the cook-off has made such an impression on the Ave Maria community, and so pleased when Fr. Mayer approached us about continuing it," said Tom Smith, who along with his wife, Gretel, began the cookoff and have been its driving forces. "This is a special day, once a year, that brings our community together to celebrate just that -- community. This friendly competition has grown into an expected tradition and we are very happy to be a part of that. I hope to smell the smoke from many neighbors practicing their best recipes in the back yard over the next few months and look forward to finding the best steak in the Sunshine State!"

Grill team applications will be available in October for those interested in competing, Mr. Smith said.