ORANGE PARK – Dozens will fire up their grills to support St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church this weekend.
The Steak Cookoff Association is hosting its first Clay County competition on Saturday.
A cook-off lasts more than eight hours. Teams arrive between 11 a.m.-1 p.m., and steaks are submitted to judges at 5 p.m. First place winners will get $1,000 and a spot at the nationals in Dallas. Steaks are provided to contestants and the entry fee is $150. Second place-through-fifth place steaks will receive $500-$200 and sixth through 10th place earn $100.
Cookers draw tokens, pick out one steak and pick second steak in reverse order. They cook in a 30-minute window for the judges and decide which one they want to turn in.
SCA rep David Haskett said the SCA hosts 350 events a year worldwide, including Australia and Japan. The SCA’s Jacksonville cook-offs usually averaged about 40 teams per contest. Haskett said cooking a steak for judges amounted to “offending the least amount of people.”
“It’s up to you. If you want to use a George Foreman Grill. All power to you,” Haskett said. “Any heat source is good with us. If you can cook a steak, you got a shot at winning the $1,000.”
The sport is growing because it’s accessible to novices and relatively inexpensive. A steak cook-off isn’t as secretive as a barbeque cook-off, Haskett said.
“You don’t have to have a 400-foot barbeque trailer or an 18-man crew,” he said. “It’s like a family out there.”
Promoter Mandy Dean said SCA events succeeded in church or community atmospheres.
“What’s lasting about these events is the community it brings together. Whether they’re local or from California, people enjoy the day,” Dean said. “We can use this event to give back to the community and give the locals a chance to win and climb the ladder in the competition.”
The church will hold a steak dinner at 6:30 p.m. A ticket is $30.
St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church is hosting a craft fair in Rooney Hall at the same time. St. Catherine's Business Manager Kim Neill said money raised from a hamburger and hot dog sale was earmarked for the hurricane-ravaged Bahamas. OneBlood will also host a blood donation drive.
“We’re really trying to make this a community event where we have lots of opportunities to help those in our community and our neighbors,” Neill said.
Neill said money raised from the cook-off would help the church expand services in the form of a new facility.
“One of the goals we are focused on is repairing some buildings,” Neill said. “Our goal is the future site of a new parish family life center that will serve the community.”