A northeastern Louisiana team has taken the grand champion crown at the 2022 World Championship Steak Cook-Off.
Capped off during an hour-long awards ceremony Saturday night at downtown Magnolia’s Square Park, the coveted Governor’s Cup was presented to Jon Roger and his Big Jon’s Big Eats competitive cooking squad for their first-place steak.
The Ruston, Louisiana, team also took home the grand prize check of $ 4,000.
Roger is no stranger to the Magnolia Blossom Festival. The Pelican State griller placed in the top 10 only last year, when he and Big Jon’s Big Eats captured eighth runner-up (ninth overall) in the crowded World Championship Steak Cook-Off field.
The teams he competed against consisted of some of the best grillers and competition cookers from around the region, but 2022 was a different story – and Roger finally took home the biggest prize on the night.
“We’ve been placed a few times, but this is about as high up as we’ve ever been,” he said.
Big Jon’s Big Eats is also a regular on the cookoff circuit area. The team, according to its Facebook page, routinely enters steak and chili competitions around the four-sates area. Since March, the team has competed in events from Maurice, Louisiana, to McAlester, Oklahoma, but it all started in Magnolia seven years ago.
“We’ve been doing this since 2015,” Roger added, “and the Magnolia Blossom Festival was our first competitive cooking event. It’s kind of like this is home. ”
Without revealing too much to the public, Roger stated that his “secret” to cooking a great steak was a simple matter of great fire and great seasoning.
“Royal Oak charcoal and Pancho and Lefty steak seasonings,” the chief cook said after winning the Governor’s Cup Saturday night.
The steak rub, according to Roger, is produced by a cooking friend, Roland Escobedo, in Sanger, Texas.
Amazingly, the only festival-goers that had a chance to taste a steak from Big Jon’s Big Eats were those that didn’t actually attend the dinner portion of the festival in person. Rogers told magnoliareporter.com Saturday that all of his steaks went to the drive-through line for steak ticket pickups, and only one single steak – the one entered to the judges – stayed at the festival.
In total, according to Blossom Festival information, Big Jon’s Big Eats cooked 40 steaks to serve the public.
As is almost always the case in recent years, the Magnolia Blossom Festival’s signature event fielded one of the most competitive cooking crowds in the region.
This year, even with travel and fuel costs significantly higher than in 2021, the World Championship Steak Cook-Off still produced 57 of some of the most skilled grilling teams to compete for the Governor’s Cup. Last year, the number was 61.
The 2021 championship team, Smoke House Rats of Glen Rose, Texas, competed again this year, but chief cook Dustin Sanders didn’t place in the top 10. The Lone Star State native wasn’t disappointed, though, and still said he had a wonderful time in Magnolia.
“I’m not complaining one bit at all,” the 2021 World Championship Steak Cook-Off winner said. “We had a great time.”
To further demonstrate the toughness of the Blossom Festival’s field, three-time SCA (Steak Cookoff Association) points champ Johnny Joseph and his Blowin ’Smoke team placed sixth overall this year. The Monroe, Louisiana, native just missed the winner’s circle last year, finishing second overall in 2021.
Local teams also had another strong showing. While a southwest Arkansas cooker didn’t win Saturday, Kade’s Kids Foundation of Magnolia took second overall and a cash prize of $ 2,000. Other teams from the area that finished in the top 10 included: Delta Waterfowl of Magnolia, CMC Mill Time Grillers of Magnolia, Peoples Bank of Magnolia, Team Bromine of Magnolia, and Michael Elliott Roofing and Construction of Camden.
The top 10 last year only contained only one Magnolia team, but local grilling contingencies took home grand champion honors in both 2018 (CMC Mill Time Grillers) and 2019 (Delta Waterfowl). The Blossom Festival did not take place in 2020, due to coronavirus concerns.
The furthest-traveling category winner on the night was JAK’s. The father-son grilling team commuted some 500 miles from San Antonio to take part in this year’s Magnolia Blossom Festival. The team, which made the Magnolia event its first competitive cooking competition, did not leave empty-handed. The Texas trio of James, Anthony, and Torri Moore took home $ 500 for what judges deemed to be the best-built grill at this year’s World Championship Steak Cook-Off.
The cooker, which was hand-built by Anthony and James, features multiple heat chambers and took nearly three years to complete.
“(James) knows how to weld and he also builds race cars,” said Torri, whose father-in-law headed the project. “So that’s just another way for him to use those skills. It’s also something great for a father and son to do together. ”
No matter how the teams fared this year, at least they didn’t have to contend with a deluge of rain or strikingly fast squalls. A thunderstorm system was predicted earlier in the week to hit during the ceremony and steak serving times, but the weather held off until around 11 pm Saturday. In some years, such as 2019 when the World Championship Steak Cook-Off Awards Ceremony was forced into a cramped, sticky indoor venue next to the stage, that was not the case.
To see a full list of winners from the 2022 Magnolia Blossom Festival and World Championship Steak Cook-Off, please view below.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STEAK COOK-OFF
Champion, $ 4,000 prize: Big Jon’s Big Eats (chief cook, Jon Roger)
First Runner-up, $ 2,000 prize: Kade’s Kids Foundation (Mark Pickard)
Second Runner-up, $ 1,250 prize: Delta Waterfowl (chief cook, Hunter Caldwell)
Third Runner-up, $ 750 prize: Back Porch Q (chief cook, Randy Mooney)
Fourth Runner-up, $ 500 prize: CMC Mill Time Grillers (chief cook, Chris Spence)
Fifth Runner-up: Blowin ‘Smoke Grillers (chief cook, Johnny Joseph)
Sixth Runner-up: Peoples Bank (chief cook, Jamie Waller)
Seventh Runner-up: Babbe ‘Blue’s BBQ # 2 (chief cook, Damon Blue)
Eighth Runner-up: Team Bromine (chief cook, Jake Miller)
Ninth Runner-up: Michael Elliott Roofing and Construction (chief cook, M. Brandon Barnette)
Winner, $ 500: MK Distributors, Sausage Heineken (chief cook, Clark Hale)
Second Place, $ 200: Team Tac, sausage with corn fritters (chief cook, Adam Pinner)
Third Place: AmFreezy (Amfuel), sausage wontons with cheese (chief cook, Faith Elliott)
Winner, $ 500: JAK’s
Second Place: Blowin ‘Smoke Grillers
Third Place: CMC Mill Time Grillers
Fourth Place: Steak Busters (Cadence Bank)
Fifth Place: Bloomin ‘Idiots (Betsy Production Company)
MAGNOLIA BLOSSOM FESTIVAL PARADE, NON-COMMERCIAL DIVISION
Winner, $ 500: Bloomin ‘Idiots (Betsy Production Company)
Second Place: Kade’s Kids Foundation
Third Place: Cajun Pix Stix
Fourth Place: Paving the Way Grillers
Fifth Place: Delta Waterfowl
MAGNOLIA BLOSSOM FESTIVAL PARADE, COMMERCIAL DIVISION
Winner, $ 500: AmFreezy (Amfuel)
Second Place: Steak Busters (BancorpSouth)
Third Place: Peoples Bank
Fourth Place: The Smokin ‘Bull
Fifth Place: Team Bromine (Albemarle)