S aturday afternoon, at 1:00 PM, it was time for the cook-off.
Eric and 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.
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.
I felt good with Eric on the sidelines, rooting me on.
I think I was whipping up my marinade in this picture.
I'm slicing up some bread in this one.
They had an MC walking around, who entertained the crowd and interviewed the finalists and judges.
I'm rubbing spices on my steak in this picture... So.. many.. jokes I could make right now. Must resist.
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.
Can you tell this is only my third time grilling a steak? I pretended like I had been doing this for years. :)
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.
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.
And then a scoop of herbed butter went on top of the steak.
I took my plate up to the judges, and then left the tent to find Eric. 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?
The judges were newscasters from the local television station, and a chef/owner of a local steakhouse.
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.
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.
Thank you to Eric for being there to support me!
To celebrate a successful cook-off, Eric and I went to the fanciest restaurant in town...
Cheesecake Factory again! Whoop whoop. I ordered this "Strawberry Creamsicle" drink, and it had crushed strawberries, vanilla ice cream and amaretto in it. It was divine.
We split an appetizer of corn fritters and they were amaaazing. Corn fritters are my new favorite food. Can you live on corn fritters alone?
Eric had the orange chicken with rice and veg. Mmm it was delicious. So saucy.
I ordered the white pizza; it had ricotta, some cheeses and roasted garlic on it. It was very tasty. I liked the lettuce wraps better, though. Or the chicken tacos I had in Vegas. Or the caramel chicken I had in Vegas.
We then went back to the hotel and drank a bottle of Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon and went to bed.