In his competitive grilling debut, Hubbard took home the top prize at last month’s Boo & Brews Spooktacular Steak Cookoff in Big Stone Gap. In addition to a trophy, Hubbard walked away with $1,000 and a golden ticket to a world championship steak cookoff, which will be held in Texas next year.
“I just went to try it, and I was just hoping to get my money back (from the $150 entry fee),” Hubbard said. “I knew I could cook a pretty good steak, but I didn’t think I would win it.”
Making the event happen
Greg Cross, organizer of the cookoff, said the competition was held on Oct. 27 as part of a larger event held by the town of Big Stone Gap. Other activities at the event included concerts, inflatables and two other cooking contests: a people’s choice steak contest and a brat contest, which was sponsored by Wampler’s Farm Sausage and won by Kingsport resident Terri English.
Cross said the steak competition was sanctioned by the Steak Cookoff Association, one of the fastest growing entities in food sports. The association sanctions several cookoffs throughout the country each year, with each winner given the chance to compete at the world championship.
Nineteen teams representing six states participated in Big Stone Gap’s cookoff, Cross said. Many of the teams had experience competing, though others, such as Hubbard, were newcomers.
Taking the trophy
Hubbard, an Elizabethton resident who works at Eastman, first learned about the cookoff from Rockie Collins, one of his work colleagues. He and Collins decided to go to the event together, with Hubbard entering the steak cookoff and Collins participating in one of the other food contests.
To ensure an even playing field, each contestant was provided with two steaks of equal thickness, Hubbard said. Contestants were required to bring all their own grilling equipment and seasonings, and at the end of the competition, the contestants chose their best steak to present to the judges.
Hubbard prepared for the event the night before, enlisting Collins as his taste tester.
“The night before, I went and bought two steaks and loaded my grill up, and I went to Rockie’s,” Hubbard said. “I tried it two different ways with different seasonings on it, and he picked which one was the best. So that’s what we went with, and I went up there and cooked it and won it.”
Hubbard is planning to attend the world championship in Texas next year. In the meantime, he hopes to attend more Steak Cookoff Association competitions throughout the region.
“It was exciting,” Hubbard said. “If anybody likes to cook out and grill, I highly recommend giving it a shot, because you’ll have fun.”