Highlights from the World Championship Steak Cook-Off – Eating America
The Smell of Magnolias and Steaks Is in the Air
A crowd of more than 50,000 has turned out to attend the Magnolia Blossom Festival and World Championship Steak Cook-Off. The festivities commence with a parade of grills, and then it's onto the cooking. With 81 teams in this year's cook-off, it's anyone's game to win with the best rib eye of them all.
Grillers from across the country have come to compete, but home team husband-and-wife Danny and Becky Jones think they have a fighting chance for the trophy with their rub, which includes some secret ingredients that Anthony's actually able to decipher: sake and red miso paste.
Becky and Danny have had a taste of winning before: In 2009 the two took home the coveted Governor's Cup. "I'm better at spices, he's better at fire," says Becky of their strengths. "I haven't had a steak this flavorful before," says Anthony upon tasting a slice of the couple's entry.
Playing with Matches
There's more to this festival than steaks — there's some fun and games, too, but with a grilling theme, of course. Anthony partners up for a game that consists of carrying lumps of charcoal from one grill to another grill using only matchsticks. The competition soon turns into a fight for the finish.
From Bankers to Grillers to Brides?
Bankers Mike Waters (center) and Chad Pointdexter think they have the best method for a rib eye by tenderizing it twice, but Anthony isn't convinced — that is, until he tastes it. In past years they've won every place except first: "Our friends give us a hard time about being the bridesmaid," says Mike, "but hopefully this is our year to be the bride."
When Quantity Rules
Steak lovers rejoice: This festival is replete with all the steak you can eat in a meat-eating challenge. Whoever eats the most of a 64-ounce plate of steak in 45 minutes wins $1,000. Anthony's tip for the 12 eaters who've taken up the challenge: "Don't drink too much. We don't want to fill the belly with liquids!"
Soda Fountain Classic
With all this taste testing, Anthony needs a refreshment. Chris Zemer is an expert in root beer floats — his grandfather started the business in 1926. Chris' advice on how to enjoy a float: "Drink first before you push on that spoon so you don't wear it." But Anthony thinks it's a sign of a good float when you're wearing it.
Steak-Grilling Gets a Redesign
Newcomers in the competition, graphic designers Cody Robertson and Blake Vickers think they've got a leg up on the competition with their method of salting and "reverse sear," which involves cooking the meat through first, then hard-searing it. Cody's tip for telling doneness: "Don't go by time. Go by thermometer."
Staking Claim for the Win
After tasting all 81 steaks, the judges have found the winning steak with the best flavor, texture and appearance. The team of Smokehouse Rats #2 walks away with the Governor's Cup, $4,000 and bragging rights. Griller Joe Stump says his advice for grilling steak is to "just keep it simple and cook it right."
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