10th Annual Texas Steak Cookoff

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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.

There’s entertainment throughout the day for the entire family. Local businesses are open, vendors are set up within town and four bands played throughout the day. There were even two wine tents.

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!

This was homemade bourbon or moonshine. I’m not sure. I didn’t try any… I was headed to the wine tent.

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!

The judging for the steaks begins around 1pm and the top 30 chefs are announced around 4pm. Shortly thereafter, be prepared. To receive your steak, pick one tent and get in line as they will cook it to your liking!
The cookoff had a different set up this year and I felt that it made all the difference. I really think that this is why I enjoyed this year the best compared to the past few years. With over 100 teams participating, the chefs were situated along a few separate streets and seemed to have a little more room. The temperature in May isn’t cool and breezy, it’s warm if not hot. With the new arrangement, it was incredibly easy to maneuver but the fact that they were a little more spread out definitely helped with how hot and crowded it felt in the area.
Time for the steak! I chose to have my steak cooked at the Beef Bro chefs. I usually go by luck of the draw and this year, I didn’t go wrong. My steak was cooked to my perfection and it was pretty darn delicious!

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).

Related Posts:
Hico, Texas
Texas Steak Cookoff 2010
Texas Steak Cookoff 2011
Texas Steak Cookoff 2012
Texas Steak Cookoff Wine Festival 2013

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post, however I did receive free admission to the event in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.
Texas Tuesday link up with Amanda from Princess of the Panhandle and Crystal from Masons Mama. This is a chance for any blogger to participate in a post on the greatness of Texas! There’s so much to explore!

14 thoughts on “10th Annual Texas Steak Cookoff

  1. Amanda Haney

    Oh wow.. those steaks look so juicy. I enjoyed seeing your pics of this weekend on Instagram. So awesome! I am jealous of all the neat and fun things you get to do!!

  2. Mason's Mama

    I love that Nolan Ryan was there!!!!!!! So awesome. I just adore that man! Great pictures and looks like a really good time! I will have to remember this for next year. Those crackers sound delicious. I think we are going to have to try those.

  3. Sarah Shumate

    This reminds me of the BBQ Fest in Memphis that goes on every May! You got some really great shots – my favorite is of the two guys just sitting back while their meat cooks on the grill! So down home country! :o)

    I’m going to be looking to you for my “country fix” now that we’re city dwellers! ;o)

    1. Diana, Down Home Traveler

      I’ve wanted to go to the one in Memphis – I hear its great! There’s also a steak cookoff in Arkansas that’s apparently pretty big – maybe someday! Thanks – I love that pic too! I can’t wait to see and hear about your exploration of Europe!


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