The Great Steak Challenge Part Two

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S aturday afternoon, at 1:00 PM, it was time for the cook-off.

I drove to the mall from the hotel and found the tent where the steak cook-off would be held at. The Beringer folks were handing out wine and steak samples to the public. I spotted a sign that said I would be in the second heat; ten people would cook in two heats of five.

These were my competitors. All of them were very nice and friendly, and quite a few were newbies to competitive cooking.
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It was HOT outside that day - sunny and almost ninety degrees. Waiting around for my heat was hard because I just got more and more nervous, and more and more sweaty. First we had to wait for the grills and cooking stations to be set up, then we had to sit through the first heat, the judging, and for them to set up everything all over again. Everything seemed to be running smoothly, though. The Beringer people organized this event really well.

Finally it was time for my heat to begin. I checked over all my ingredients and utensils to make sure I had everything I needed. Egads! I noticed they gave me paprika - not the smoked paprika I asked for. I panicked and told the Beringer people. They said they couldn't find smoked paprika in Des Moines.

Luckily, a very nice woman named Deb let me borrow some that she had purchased and brought to the cook-off; I felt relieved. I felt even more relieved when I found out we only had to cook one steak - not six, like I had practiced. The competition started and I was a little shaky at first, but then grew more confident.
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I think I was whipping up my marinade in this picture.
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I'm slicing up some bread in this one.
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They had an MC walking around, who entertained the crowd and interviewed the finalists and judges.
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I'm rubbing spices on my steak in this picture... So.. many.. jokes I could make right now. Must resist.
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I waited until the last few minutes to grill my steak. My steak would be the last one served, and I knew it would be sitting for a little while.
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Can you tell this is only my third time grilling a steak? I pretended like I had been doing this for years. :)
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I didn't mess with the heat at all. The gas grill was on medium-high heat, I believe. I just went with it and threw that steak on there and hoped for the best.
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Grilled to perfection!

There was about a minute left to plate my dish, so I really had to hurry. I plated the steak and the salad that went along with it.
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And then a scoop of herbed butter went on top of the steak.
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I took my plate up to the judges, and then left the tent. He took a picture when the Beringer staff sliced my steak and plated it for the judges.

I didn't overcook it! That looks medium rare to me. Does it to you?
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The judges were newscasters from the local television station, and a chef/owner of a local steakhouse.
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I was happy about how my dish came together well, and pleased that I didn't have any trouble grilling, so I wasn't upset at all when I lost and they announced the winner. This was her first cook-off and she won it with her filet mignon. It had some sort of sauce that went a long with it and a potato pancake.
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She won a trip for two to compete in the final cook-off in Napa. The winner of that cook-off wins $15,000.

I had a great time at the event and I'm thankful I had the opportunity to compete. Thank you, Beringer! I hope they host the contest next year. I have a feeling they will.

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  1. seeing all the competitors lined up looks so exciting! well done on participating and what an amazing prize for the winner. yours looks perfectly medium done and nice presentation, to answer your question

    ps. i love your outfit!!

  2. Another job well done! You are going to a a pro before you know it! Your steak looks beautiful. I love reading about your adventures. You and Eric make such a cute couple. Can't wait for the next most excellent *Emeric* adventure. Well, if Brad and Angelina can be Brangelina I dub ya'll Emeric. LOL

  3. Sorry you didn't win but your steak with all of its trimmings looked quite fabulous!!

    You always can fly over to Brussels & make your steak for my husband & me!!

    Great pictures too & thanks for sharing, dear Emily!!

  4. Emily how thrilling that you were competing, this is huge! So proud of you and you looked like a pro (& adorable). Your steak was pink & perfect and my mouth is watering & it's only 10am. So great that you & Eric celebrated afterward. A little amaretto, & ice cream always a good reward for a job well-done.

    Cheers to you xx

  5. Great job, Emily! You'll get 'em next time!

  6. Yummm... the caramel chicken at Cheesecake Factory is my favorite. You should come up with a copy-cat recipe!!

  7. Sounds like such a great experience, you should be so proud! I haven't grilled steaks many times so I would definitely be intimidated. You rock. Will you be sharing your recipe?

  8. Wow, congrats on your competing. I would have been nervous! Nice though that you were able to go toCheesecake Factory. :)

  9. Congrats on making it to the cook-off in the first place! Your steak looked perfectly cooked and a good presentation.

  10. What a fun competition!!

    I have never had corn fritters! I feel like I am missing out.

  11. Looks good, I never would have guessed it was only your 3rd time cooking a steak! Congrats :)

    I looove the corn fritters at Cheesecake Factory, too! Yum :)

  12. so...did you feel like a fetus? congrats on your accomplishment, and for me, there's no better way to celebrate than with cheesecake factory food. :)

  13. Yay for cooking your steak perfectly! I'm glad you had a good time :)

  14. Your steak looks perfect to me! Even if you didn't win, I'm sure you still had a great time and that's all it counts!

  15. At least this competition didn't look as nerve-racking as the food network competition. (You looked like you were having a good time anyway!!) That would be so fun to try (maybe once, at least)!! Way to go, even if you didn't win this time!

  16. Makes me hungry. Looks like a fun time.
    Wish me luck on grilling my full loin roast this afternoon.

  17. Beautiful steak. I'd give it a prize.

    Your travel posts always keep me wanting more. (Hmm...speaking of not going there. Do I want more steak rubs too?)

    I got a $50 gift cert to Cheesecake Factory for my birthday. Your posts makes me want to use it ASAP. Too bad there is always a 90-minute wait for a table at the only one in the area. I think I'll take it on my next business trip. I always eat at Cheesecake Factory on business trips.

    I love love love corn fritters too. I also got a Fry Daddy, so perhaps it's time to make some in my own kitchen!

  18. Thanks everyone!

    Fire, Forever 21!

    Anj, I love Emeric! What a great idea! Or how about Emerica? That would be patriotic.

    Ash, I wish I could! That was so good. I really should have ordered the caramel chicken again.

    Cara, I'm not sure if I can share the recipe. I imagine Beringer will post the finalists' recipes on their site sometime.

    Nancy, exactly! It wasn't like I was competing for 25K on TV. :)

    Rachel, come to KC or St. Louis and we'll go!

  19. I give you so much credit for all the contests you compete in. It is especially impressive that you don't just stick to a single category or item.

    Also wanted to say thanks for offering the most wonderful food-porn and witty stories.

    I could go on, but suffice it to say that I want to be you when I grow up.

  20. As a Des Moines native, I am offended that they said Des Moines didn't have smoked paprika. Really?! Glad it worked out anyway!

  21. It's the trip that counts, not the destination. With every step you gain some experience, and some material for your blog lol!

  22. It's been so long since I've been to a cook-off. I want to go again!

    Fun, fun times.

    I am wondering where the nearest Cheesecake Factory is to me...

  23. AAh I used to work at the Cheesecake Factory - boy did I gain weight in that short year! I ate everything, but the thai wraps were definitely one of my faves...their Miso Salmon is also AMAZING. Tuxedo Cheesecake is my favorite...if you ever go back, try that one!

  24. The THIRD time ever that you grilled a steak?!!! You are awesome. It looked like the least. And it was cooked perfectly! AND you looked cool as a cucumber. Great job!

    I'm with you about the lettuce wraps. They are the best thing ever. Except you need a bath after you've handled and wrapped all that stuff.

  25. congrats on making it into a competition! that in itself is an honor!
    i just got done making your marshmallows a few hours ago, and i must say, i was greatly impressed with the ease of the recipe and the outcome of the marshmallows! they're already set! i'll be doing a post on my blog covering the recipe, so stop by soon to check it out.
    oh, and brittany is right, you looked adorable at the competition!

  26. Pursuit, awww you are so nice. That comment was so sweet. I think you're awesome.

    Christy, I'm pretty sure they have smoked paprika in Iowa. You just have to look for it. :)

    Sandrine, right on!

    Amie, I'll have to try the salmon. Sounds great!

    Sue, you are right about that. They're sooo messy.

    Cookie, thank you! Glad you liked the mallows. :)