Beef cook-off brings out the best

Published 1:32 am Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sportswriters at smaller publications usually are considered the culinary experts of the staff.

They like to eat.

Proof: Look at the majority of sportswriters more than 30 years old. In most cases, the sedentary phase is in full bloom and the body’s horizontal axis has taken control.

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Pressbox food is one reason for the excitement of fall and the gridiron season. Practically every college supplies writers and officials with a meal of sorts during their home games.

The size of the school, obviously, determines the spread at the buffet table.

For example, at two college football games this year, the smaller college in Montgomery provided concession-stand food in the writers’ area: hot dogs, soft drinks, chips, cookies.

At the larger college, however, the pressbox had an adjoining kitchen with a dining area. These guys are serious. The usual concession-stand fare was placed in area that provided easy and quick access for that “TV-timeout” snack. The other serving area included the makings of a “meat-and-three” buffet with a full complement of warming trays.

Certain groups sometimes sponsor the food. Pork Producers Association Day at Mississippi State? Don’t miss it.

So when you get the chance to serve as a judge in a cook-off, the experience is inspiring — and filling.

On Wednesday, the Dallas County office of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Cattleman’s Association sponsored the Junior and Senior High Beef Cook-off at the Extension Office. The event was awesome.

Twenty-one 4-H students — and their beef dishes — entered the lunchtime competition. The senior division (ages 14-18) was less difficult to find a winner because only two entries were collected.

The dishes were judged in four areas: recipe (5 points), appropriate amount of beef (5), appearance (10) and taste (80).

Each chef received a ribbon to show they had participated in the event. They must have a certain number of ribbons to go on field trips. Ten dollars also was given to each cook to defray costs of making the entry.

As with all youth-oriented activities, the winners aren’t as important as the number of participants. The non-winners may not see it that way, but that will come in time.

For now, the 4-Hers, the parents and the sponsors should be commended on a job well done.

For next year, think about take-outs.