Elk NetworkBrazos Valley Bulls Storm Steak and Grape Festival

Volunteer News | November 20, 2019

Brazos Valley Bulls Storm Steak and Grape Festival

The Brazos Valley Bulls Chapter of RMEF catapulted themselves into the spotlight in their community of Bryan, Texas. How? They entered an annual cook-off.

Chapter Chair Buck Buchanan, grabbed the bull by the antlers and gathered five other volunteers to help prepare delicious steak and appetizers for the Texas Reds, Steak and Grape Festival’s cook-off on Saturday, September 28.

The Texas Reds, Steak and Grape Festival is managed by the Bryan Downtown Association, a local nonprofit. About eight blocks in the Historic District of old downtown Bryan are closed off Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon, and thousands of folks attend each year.

The cook-off was one of the festival highlights on Saturday, with 27 teams from around the state vying for top culinary honors.

RMEF volunteers Buck Buchanan, Alex Pulido, Jared Erickson, Curtis Ramsdale, Michael Gookins and Christine Buchanan gathered at the RMEF reserved cook site on Saturday, with the goal of reaching out to more of the community. Being visible in the festival’s cook-off would hopefully help people remember RMEF, and consider attending the Chapter’s Big Game Banquet held in April of every year.

The volunteer chefs made an impression by hauling in a trailer-mounted grill and all the support materials for a perfect cook-off. They set up an RMEF canopy, three RMEF Feather banners and tables.

The festival staff provided each cook-off team with three Ribeye Steaks. The judges in the competition would taste of the three. They also provided each team with an additional 20 ribeye steaks, which would serve as samples for the festival goers who purchased a ticket to sample every team’s steak and vote for the People’s Choice award.

RMEF’s appetizer chef was Curtis Ramsdale, who put together exquisite Stuffed Mushroom Caps. Curtis filled the mushroom caps with his secret cheese and spice stuffing, grilled them and then topped them off with a small piece of ribeye steak.  The volunteers presented the appetizers to the judges at 11:50 am.

“I sampled about 10 of them, just to make sure they met RMEF standards of excellence, and they did,” says RMEF regional director Michael Gookins.

The next challenge was to prepare the steak entrée for the afternoon competition. Chef Alex Pulido led that effort with Buck, Christine, Curtis and Jared assisting. They tried a couple of different grilling flavor tastes and all agreed on their special secret rub for the competition entry.

They presented one steak to the judges at 2:00 p.m. For the rest of the afternoon, the volunteers cooked the additional steaks and provided samples to some 300 folks that purchased a tasting ticket.

Adding to the fun, Bryan/College Station is home to the Texas A & M University and the Aggies football team. The cook-off shared the day with an Aggie game, so the atmosphere became much like a game day tailgate party. The volunteers brought in a big TV, amplifier, speakers and a portable satellite TV antenna. They showed the game that afternoon, and the Aggies were victorious.

The cook-off winners were finally announced on stage at 6:00 pm.

“We had a great time, sold some memberships, made new friends, got RMEF introduced to many new folks but did not win either of the cook-offs,” says Gookins. Although the RMEF team didn’t win the competition, they received lots of positive comments from the People’s Choice participants.

Gookins says he’s already excited for next year’s cook-off.

“This was a great event, and we look forward to honing our skills and preparing for the 2020 Texas Reds Festival,” he says.