In addition to vying for the title of Best-Tasting 16oz Steak, teams could also compete in two other categories: Appetizers, and Showmanship. Although I had to leave the Cook-Off before the steaks hit the grill, I did get to watch many of the teams preparing and cooking a mouthwatering array of "apps" -- in the food world, that means appetizers and not new programs for your smartphone. And much to my delight, the competitors were happy to offer up samples for me to taste -- maybe I looked hungry, as I never asked for a bite and yet was regularly offered food!
In addition to popular grill favorites like chicken and sausages, a surprising number of teams prepared apps featuring stuffed jalapenos and bacon, and often both. Everything I tasted was excellent, from the tangy-sweet spicy-hot grilled chicken to the smoked pancetta and grilled pork neck made with a secret Italian marinade. I suspect the judges had a deliciously difficult time selecting the winner from among all the zesty entries.
Among the judging criteria for Showmanship were the design & decoration of the "pit area" for each team, the hospitality of team members, and entertainment. Many teams displayed their support for the ECU Pirates, which made sense given that Winterville is just outside of Greenville, where East Carolina University is located. But there was at least one team sporting Duke Blue and proclaiming their love of Duke football. For entertainment, one team brought a "Wheel of Fortune" you could spin to find out your "steak personality." Another team included a member dressed as Mr. Steak, who graciously allowed me to take his photo even after I warned him that I wanted to post it on the internet.
If you'd like to see my photos from the first annual NC Steak Cook-Off, visit the Carolina Sauce Company on Pinterest, where you'll find my board dedicated to the event.
This Saturday I'll be in Lexington, NC, for the BBQ Capital Cook-Off, an event I've been wanting to attend for years. Stay tuned to photos and a report from that event in the near future.
PS: If you're in the mood for a juicy steak, make sure you have a good steak seasoning to season it with, such as Montreal Steakhouse Seasoning or Stubb's Steak Spice Rub -- and if you enjoy a nice steak sauce with your steak, you'll find plenty to choose from when you browse our selection of Steak Sauces you won't find at your local supermarket.