Ace of steaks: 9 teams battle in cooking championship

Published on Saturday, 24 May 2014 23:30 - Written by Betty Waters

As nine teams battled in the Ace of Steaks cooking championship, crowds sampled the steak, listened to live music, inspected cars in a car show and watched dog races.

 The occasion was the fourth annual steak cook-off staged by FRESH by Brookshire’s and benefitting East Texas Food Bank, a nonprofit agency that feeds the hungry in 26 East Texas counties.

 As music blared, local cook-off teams competed, their steaks sizzling as the aroma filled the air.

 Meanwhile, there was the Strut Your Mutt Contest in which dogs competed in many categories, such as the best tail wag, best trick and best dressed. Another canine event was the Yippee Dog Races on an approximately 30-foot straight course.

 Carrying her three-pound teacup Yorkie dressed as a ballerina princess, Lynne Sullivan debated which dog contest to enter.

 Denise Saleh, adoption coordinator for Greyhounds Unlimited in Tyler and East Texas, showed off greyhounds to promote adoption of greyhounds.

 The climax for the steak cook-off came when a team of celebrity judges announced the winners.

 First place was the five-member KTBB Car Show team. It received the Ace of Steaks championship belt, each member received a pair of boots from Cavender’s Boot City and the team received a $200 FRESH gift card and a trophy.

 Lonnie Johnson, of the KTBB team, said the team cooked steak using salt and pepper with a short amount of time on both sides.

 “East Texas Food Bank is a fantastic cause and it’s a great competition and we love to compete,” Johnson said.

 Second place and a $100 FRESH gift card went to the Classic Toyota and Mercedes Benz of Tyler team.

 Scott Reed, of Classic Toyota, said the team cooked steak with “some direct heat and indirect heat process.”

 He said, “I think the people that come out and do this all have the same kind of spirit to have fun and support the community at the same time.”

 For the second year in a row, third place and a $75 FRESH gift card was awarded to the Clothes Mentor team.

 After the competition, there was a steak dinner for $20, including a 12-ounce New York strip, garlic rosemary potatoes, grilled asparagus, garden salad and a roll.

 “This is a huge event for us,” Ashleigh Endicott, marketing coordinator for FRESH by Brookshire’s, said. We benefit East Texas Food Bank. We want to help out our friends and neighbors. What better way than to enjoy great food and have a big celebration.”

 Last year’s cook-off raised almost $5,000, and she was hoping to at least make that much again this year. This year’s tally was not immediately available.

 Jason Cypert, of Access to Mobility’s C-Four Team, said he thought competing in the steak cook-off was “something fun to do and meet a lot of fun people and to help out a local charity and do our part.”

 Using a trailer he built the last couple of years for cook-offs, Cypert said his team was cooking their steak “real hot.”

 Cooking solo, Byron Meads said he likes to see all the different methods and techniques that people use. “I’m going to give it (his steak) an Italian flavor,” he said.

 Krystal Villapudua said the four-member East Texas Radio Group team was excited and nervous about entering the cook-off for the first time. They planned to use butter and more butter in cooking their steak.

 “It’s a great cause and we wanted to be a part of that,” she said.

 Brian Pearson, of the Tyler Morning Telegraph-CBS 19 team, echoed, “It’s for a good cause, the East Texas Food Bank. It’s just great to be out here.”