Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I was a Walmart Choice Steak Challenge Judge!

Welcome to my Not so Wordless Wednesday!

On May 22nd Walmart, Kingsford and Coca-Cola put me to the challenge, the Walmart Choice Steak Challenge as a Judge - Eight top chefs had a chance to compete and put their skills and meat grills to the test!

The challenge began at various Walmart's where shoppers tasted the steaks prepared by the chefs and and selected favorites, ultimately 8 chef finalists from cities including Tampa, Miami, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, St. Louis, Nashville and Atlanta were selected to compete in New York City for best seared steak honors, (as well as a check for $5,000 for themselves and another check for their preferred charity), in a contest judged by champion pit master Chris Lilly and other food luminaries (including yours truly!).

The Chefs who competed for the title included:

Richard Chamberlain of Richard Chamberlain's Steak and Chop House of Dallas who prepared a Grilled Filet Mignon with Smoky Spice Rub and Grilled Salad with Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette. His Charity of Choice is Bridge Builders. His Grilling Tip:

"Flare ups are a big part of grilling. As a kid I used to help my dad avoid them by standing over the grill with a squirt gun." ~ Chef Richard Chamberlain

Ronald (Ronnie) Killen of Killen's Steakhouse of Houston who prepared Grilled Rib Eyes with Garlic Pepper Dry Rub and Grilled Corn with Herbed Butter. His Charity of Choice is Recipe for Success. His Grilling Tip:

"Be sure that when you take your steaks off the grill that you allow them to rest before cutting. This will ensure that all of the juices stay in." ~ Chef Ronald Killen

Eric Lackey of Flamestone American Grill in Tampa who prepared Grilled Rib Eye with Everglades Rub, Coca-Cola Balsamic Marinated Bermuda Onion and Grilled Beefsteak Tomato with Himalayan Pink Rock Salt Crust. (We talked about our mutual love of Himalayan Pink Rock Salt as I use it too!). His Charity of Choice is The Abilities Foundation. His Grilling Tip:

"The key is using Kingsford Charcoal, which you should light in chimneys prior to grilling. Also, it's important to set two stage fire zones for searing and cooking." ~ Chef Eric Lackey

David Larkworthy of 5 Seasons Brewing in Atlanta who prepared Cherry Cola Chili Smoked Rib Eye and Avocado Mashed Potatoes. His Charity of Choice: Alzheimer's Association. (By the way, in my opinion he is the chef with the most awesome smile, which I think my photo really does capture! I always say happy chefs impart extra love and flavor in the food!). His Grilling Tip:

"Don't be afraid of the grill. Grill anything and everything. Work with your fire and most imporantly, have fun!" ~ Chef David Larkworthy

Daniel Nemec of Kirby's Steakhouse in San Antonio who prepared Grilled Rib Eye with Coca-Cola Reduction and Grilled Potato Salad. His Charity of Choice is: The Huntington Disease Foundation. His Grilling Tip:

"Your coals need to be bright red with a thin white ash coating. You also need a clean grill grate that has been thoroughly oiled with canola oil (do not use olive oil - it will smoke too much and give a bitter flavor to whatever you're grilling). Once you have followed these steps you are ready to grill and enjoy!"

Note: I wasn't able to capture an individual shot of Chef Nemec, but I do have him in several group shots, refer to group shots after the individual chef profiles.

David Rook of Copia Restaurant & Wine Garden in St. Louis who prepared Grilled Rib Eyes with Horseradish Garlic Butter Sauce and Grilled Mixed Vegetable Salad. (This one definitely had a kick to it!) His Charity of Choice: The American Diabetes Association. His Grilling Tip:

"Always wait for the grill to reach a medium heat as opposed to a high heat to avoid charring your meat." ~ Chef David Rook

Erik Sierra of the Red Fish Grill in Miami who prepared Grilled Rib Eye with Red Wine Glaze and Char-grilled Vegetables with Arugala-Orange Pesto. (This one also had a very robust flavor! and I'm also fond of using Wine in my cooking!). His Charity of Choice: ASPCA. His Grilling Tip:

"I like my steak to be medium-rare so I recommend using a meat thermometer to obtain your preferred doneness." ~ Chef Erik Sierra

Willy Thomas of Park Cafe in Nashville who prepared Coffee Rubbed Steak with Grilled Onion and Bleu Cheese Dressing as well as Grilled Corn on the Cob with Lime Chipotle Mayonnaise. (The meat had a strong flavor with the Bleu Cheese, and the Lime Chipotle Mayo on the Grilled Corn on the Cob was fantastic!). His Charity of Choice: Vanderbilt University Department of Child Neurology Epilepsy Research.  His Grilling Tip:

"Like a good golfer, pull out a blade of grass and throw it up in the air to determine which way the wind is blowing so you don't get smoke in your face - works perfectly" (I have to admit this one made me smile, as I used to organize charity golf tournaments many moons ago!)

Note: I wasn't able to capture an individual shot of Chef Thomas, but I do have him in several group shots, refer to group shots after the individual chef profiles.

Left: Chef Daniel Nemec (see above in his profile for his quote) Very Right: Chef Willy Thomas (see above for his quote)

And the winner:

@2012 Photo Courtesy of Kingsford Charcoal

Congratulations to Chef Richard Chamberlain who won the challenge!

Winning Chef Richard Chamberlain Center and the Ascending Butterfly Team

As you can he was super personable, here is a photo of team Ascending Butterfly with the winning Chef! Congrats to the Chef and his charity of choice, Bridge Builders! You know Ascending Butterfly loves covering stories with HEART! 

Team Butterfly had a great time at the Walmart Steak Challenge, feel free to grab recipes and learn more about the great selection of Steaks Walmart has to offer, you can also get social with them on Facebook! Butterflies did you know that only 1 out of 5 steaks is good enough to be called Walmart Choice Premium Beef? Look for the seal my friends and don't accept anything less for your family! The quality of any cut of meat greatly determines the result of the flavor of the dish, so choose carefully butterfly!

Above: I just had to brag a bit about the group shot above, apparently a hot shot photographer on the scene who apparently felt he had priority over everyone taking a photo, told me quite loudly to MOVE out HIS way. And I said no, my shot is already set up, and when I did the chefs looked my way and smiled (I think a few were quite pleased with my *gumption*)

Did you grill some great Steaks over Memorial Day Weekend? Do you have a Father's Day BBQ planned?

˙·٠•● Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ●•●•٠·˙˙·٠•● Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ●•●•٠·˙˙·٠•● Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ●•●•٠·˙

FTC Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post. This post is non-compensated. This is an event recap of a Walmart, Kingsford and Coca-Cola sponsored event, all opinions are 100% my own.


  1. What a fun event and post! Reading all the recipes made me really really hungry! Loved your spunk over that "hot shot" photographer. X)

    1. @abitnerdy - It definitely was fun and the menu was fantastic!

      He yelled at everyone about moving out his way, I guess that might work in some cities, but not in New York! ;-)

      ♥ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

  2. Sure looks like you had a fun day!!

    1. @Nancy - Thanks it was fun, great kickoff to summer event, who doesn't like a good grill off? :)

      ♥ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

  3. What a fun way to spend some time. Love it! Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop Hugs and wishes for a beautiful week ahead.