POSTED ON AUGUST 21, 2013:
The Thighs Have it
Kids grilling like the big folks
The Fifth Annual Oklahoma Championship Steak Cook-off (OCSC) on August 24 in downtown Tulsa will bring an added feature to this year's adult competition, a Grillin' with Kids competition, an event for kids to show off their grilling talents.
Tripp Haggard, executive director of the OCSC, an entirely volunteer organization, said the idea to have this cooking with kids event was spawned from the OCSC's partnership with noted restaurateur, author, and television personality Guy Fieri's Cooking with Kids Foundation with its mission to "encourage and educate young people to learn how to cook for themselves, their families, and their friends, while instilling self-esteem, self-reliance, and a healthy lifestyle.
"We got involved with Guy Fieri's Foundation to provide an Awesome Pretzel Project cart for New Hope," he said. (New Hope Ministry, of Trinity Episcopal Church, works with children and youth who have one or both parents incarcerated.) Haggard said the kids' pretzel project is an actual working business for youth to learn how to operate a business, making and selling pretzels. This pretzel cart will be at this year's cook-off, and about the city at other various events during the year and spring of 2014.
This cook-off is their next big venture which encourages and educates youngsters to try their skills in the culinary field like the adults.
Kids will try their hand at grilling chicken thighs, a competition which will parallel the adult steak cook-off. There is a limit of just 14 teams for children ages 8-14 and will be divided into two age groups -- 8-10 and 11-14 years -- with a maximum of 4 kids per team. Each team must include at least one adult (over 18). Adults may only participate with knife work, lighting of the fire, and checking chicken for doneness. All other cooking activity must be performed by the children.
All the kids will be given a grill, charcoal, table and six chicken thighs. The kids will turn in their thighs to the selected judges just as the big kids do with their steaks. First place winner in each division receives $100, second place $50, and third place $25. The overall winner in points will receive a gas grill, worth more than $750.
The Oklahoma Championship Steak Cook-off is an annual fund raising event presented by the Brotherhood of St. Lawrence at Trinity Episcopal Church. It features 50 cooking teams grilling 16-ounce ribeye steaks in competition to win the event's $5,000 in prize money.
Where's the beef?
"We get our steaks from different vendors," Haggard said, "and they are all hand-cut on Friday night" before the Saturday competition, all 3,500 of them. "This is almost two tons of beef," he said. "All steaks are 16-ounce ribeyes."
Each team will select two steaks to grill, and they must be turned in at 1:00pm for judging. At 3:00pm, the top 10 teams will do it all over again, slapping more steaks on the grill for a final judging to select the top five winning steak teams. The 1st place winner receives a $2,500 prize and a trophy.
Don't eat meat? There's still reason to come down and have fun with the family. Haggard said a number of events will be available for entertaining both adults and children. The cook-off activities include two stages with live music, more than 100 cars at the vintage car and motorcycle show on S. Boston Avenue between 5th and 6th Streets, and afternoon appetizer samplings provided by the cooking teams. Haggard said there will be "giant inflatables for the kids. There will even be a full-sized pirate ship with an octopus hanging off of it."
From 12:30-3:30pm, those in attendance can graze on a sampling of appetizers being prepared for the Appetizer competition judging at 1:30pm. While Haggard said people may not receive what is actually prepared for the judging competition, there will still be a number of sampling options available to try before the big steak dinner at 5:30pm. The entry rules say appetizers have to be anything but beef (with beef sausage as the only exception), and while it does not have to be a grilled item, most of the food prep has to be done on site.
"I've seen very creative items at this contest," Haggard said. "I've seen swordfish and many different desserts cooked on a grill."
But it is the 5:30pm feeding that draws most interest. The fun part for the observers and passersby is that they will get to sample a whole lot of good grilling because once the steaks are cooked and judged, each cooking team grills steaks to feed the over 2,000 persons who buy a $25 ticket to attend "the largest steak dinner held in Oklahoma" each year.
At 5:30, ticket holders will enter one of two serving lines located at E. 6th Street and S. Detroit Avenue and E. 6th Street and S. Boston Avenue to get their plates and sides, then moving on to any of the competitor booths to get a steak.
The steak cook-off event for both adults and kids will be held downtown at the intersection of E. 6th Street and S. Cincinnati Avenue from 9am to 9pm, August 24, and nine blocks in this area will be closed for the event. The parking lot of Trinity Episcopal Church will serve as the "home base" or staging area for the event.
In four years, the OCSC has raised more than $100,000 to help a variety of organizations including Iron Gate, New Hope, Habitat for Humanity, and Rebuilding Together Tulsa. Proceeds from the 2013 Oklahoma Championship Steak Cook-Off support "Our Garden Project," an effort to establish community gardens in partnerships with churches, schools, and others to make fresh vegetables available to those Tulsans who have little or no access to it. Over 40,000 square feet of gardens are not under cultivation with more planned for 2014.
For more information about competing in the 2013 Oklahoma Championship Steak Cook-off or buying tickets for the steak dinner, check out the event at oksteakcookoff.com
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