For the past few years, I have been finding myself in the same place on the third Saturday in May – Hico, Texas. The Texas Steak Cookoff and Wine Festival has to be one of the best events that I’ve had the chance of attending and definitely one of my favorites. This year was no exception and it may have been my favorite yet! It’s affordable, family friendly and an all day affair that won’t be leaving you hungry (at any point during the day).
For the Steak Cookoff:
For $25, you will receive a bracelet which will allow you to enjoy appetizers and the steak dinner in the afternoon (ribeye steak, beans, baked potato, dessert and a drink) cooked to your perfection by the team of your choice. You’re belly will thank you for this day!
Now for the details!
The day started out with an opening ceremony. Yes, that’s Nolan Ryan himself. The Steak Cookoff is co-sponsored by Nolan Ryan Beef and Kroger. Mr. Nolan Ryan took the opportunity to come down to Hico that morning to kick off the event. If there’s a soul in Texas who doesn’t like this man, they’ve probably been kicked out by now. It was great having him at the event!
The Cookoff doesn’t mess around and the grills are hot bright and early. Rolling into town, you can smell the grills. It’s amazing. 11am kicks off the hors d’oeuvres competition. The backyard chefs submit a recipe of their own to the judges. I had the opporunity to judge at last years event and some of the items are absolutely mind blowing and belly filling. I only wish that I had the recipes to some of these items. Don’t be mistaken, these hors d’oeuvres are not just for the judges, the chefs are cooking all day for folks. Walk around, sample some food and spend time with friends (and make some new ones). Here’s a few of the hor d’oeuvres that we checked out this year.
I will say – the ritz crackers I had seen at the previous cookoffs and they are so delicious and have a bit of a kick (for this Yankee, jalepeno’s sure are growing on me). Ritz crackers with peanut butter, honey and a slice of jalapeno – killer!
Hors d’oeuvres Competition Winners:
1st Place: Steak Your Claim
2nd Place: J, L & M Cooker
3rd Place: Heavy Smokers
The shrimp (above) was cooked by the backyard chefs (below). I think these fellas were my favorite group of the day and I’m not quite sure how they sported their attire all day in the heat. Regardless, their food sure was good. They even left the recipe out for the shrimp (which I should’ve grabbed). Tasty, Tasty.
If that’s not enough, just walk around and visit with some of the backyard chefs. They have grills of all shapes and sizes. Check them out, see what they’re cooking and just enjoy the day! Even their team names are pretty interesting. It’s serious business y’all!
These chefs – I’m naming them the party chefs. This is where it was all happening. Music, TV, dancing and cooking. Keeping busy all day long! They also ended up winning an award for being the best in show. They earned it!
After you’ve received and indulged in your steak dinner, it’s not over. It’s time to announce the winners. Something I haven’t mentioned is with your ticket to the cookoff, you also receive a raffle entry which is drawn at the end of the day. This year, the raffle prizes included signed Nolan Ryan memorabelia and multiple $500 gift certificates to use within Hico (if you’ve seen some of the stores in town – it’s good shopping)!
Here are this years Top 10 Hands:
(The top 5 hands received prizes between $500 and $2,500.)
1st Place: Daddy Brad’s Meat Shack
2nd Place: Pirates of the Prime Ribean
3rd Place: J, L & M
4th Place: Smokin’ Down in Texas
5th Place: J & J Cookers
6th Place: North Dallas Grill Billies
7th Place: Carne Knowledge
8th Place: Smokin’ Natives
9th Place: Wild Hanlon BBQ
10th Place: Beast Feast
Congratulations to the winners and thank you to the town of Hico for allowing me to check out this years event! If you had a chance to attend this year, I’d love to hear your feedback and I’m sure I will see you there again next year!
If you haven’t been to the Texas Steak Cookoff and Wine Festival – be sure to check it out next year (3rd Saturday in May).