Food Fight Write! blogger steak challenge, pioneer village, and WFC launch party + recipe

With little sleep, it was time to wake up, pack up utensils and ingredients, and head over to Celebration for the first annual Blogger challenge, sponsored by Saucy Mama and The Kansas City Steak Company. After finding a close parking spot near Market Street, the bloggers enjoyed a grab-and-go breakfast of champions which included bagel, cream cheese, yogurt, an apple, orange juice, trail mix and water. The competitors are much like athletes cooking away in a 2 hour heat and need energy for their sport.

The final touches to Kenmore Kitchen Arena were being set by making sure each station had all the equipment set up and ready to go. In one station, the bloggers attended a kitchen training by Kenmore’s Pro-Team. This included training on how all the appliances work from the oven/cooktop, toaster oven, and Bull grill.

Then, it was off to the cooks’ meeting where all the rules of the competition were explained. The blogger cook-off was not as strict as the normal competition as most of the bloggers had never competed before. The challenge was a taste of what it would be like to be in a competitor’s shoes. The bloggers also had to write up their recipe which included ingredients and preparation instructions within 3 hours before turning in their dish.

Photo courtesy of World Food Championships
The bloggers had 15 minutes to prepare their stations, placing their items to cook with on the prep tables or in the refrigerators. There was also a pantry of vegetables along with a variety of Saucy Mama sauces available. But instead of ordering them like the normal competitors, it was a mad dash as bloggers were grabbing vegetables and sauces like Cutthroat Kitchen. My Yard Farms also provided microgreens to incorporate into their dishes.

Presentation plate during test kitchen prior to World Food Championships
The author’s recipe, Filet a la Madrone (recipe below), focused on The Kansas City Steak Company’s filet mignons, Saucy Mama’s Poblano Ranch Dressing, and CaliforniaRancher’s Santa Maria Style seasoning. The Santa Maria Style had the right flavor profile to match with the Italian flavors of the pesto sauce and tomato side dish. Fresh basil leaves were unavailable in large enough quantity to make pesto and had to resort to a ready-made pesto. Unfortunately, it did not have the bright green color that was expected. The flavor was flat as well so it desperately needed to be doctored up.

Filet a la Madrone

  • 2 Kansas City Steak Company filet mignons
  • 2 tbsp California Rancher Santa Maria Style seasoning
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp + ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp + ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp Saucy Mama Poblano Ranch dressing
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup My Yard Farm microgreens

  1. Heat grill to high. Grease grill with bacon drippings or oil to keep steaks from sticking to the grates.
  2. Remove filets from packaging and season with California Rancher’s Santa Maria Style seasoning and set aside to rest and come to room temperature.
  3. Cut grape tomatoes in half and stir in 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper to coat. Cover and refrigerate to let the flavors marinate.
  4. Add basil leaves, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, ½ cup olive oil, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper to food processor or NutriBullet and blend until smooth with dark green color. Set aside but do not refrigerate.
  5. Sear steaks over high heat for 2 minutes on each side. Reduce heat to medium and cook to your perfect temperature (rare: first side for 7 minutes, second side for 5 minutes; medium: first side for 8 minutes, second side for 7 minutes; medium: first side for 9 minutes, second side for 7 minutes). Remove from heat and let the filets rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
  6. Stir the pesto, if separated, and decoratively swipe two tablespoons of pesto in the center of the plate.
  7. Decoratively swipe 1 tablespoon of Saucy Mama’s Poblano Ranch dressing in the middle of the pesto for a two-toned effect.
  8. Slice filet and arrange on atop of pesto/ranch swipe.
  9. Place ¾ cup of the marinated tomatoes on the side of the steak and top with microgreens.

After two hours of cooking and grilling, it was time to turn in the dishes to the judges. With nerves calmed, station cleaning was at hand to return dirty equipment and pans to the wash station while the bloggers packed up their personal items.

The bloggers headed to the bus for the last time to visit Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek run by the Osceola County Historical Society. The Pioneer Village is a collection of carefully relocated structures that once stood in different areas of Osceola County. Each structure has been lovingly preserved to demonstrate how life was once lived, complete with Partin Family’s Caretaker’s House, Blacksmith’s Shop, Lanier “Cracker House” (an early-American form of architecture defined by the center breezeway which created a natural air condition for the home), Tyson House (showing how an average farming family of  11 lived in a single room dwelling), The Cadman Complex (including bungalow, kitchen, bachelor’s quarters, and citrus packing house), Seminole Village, and Mary Kendall Steffee Nature Preserve. If you are a history buff or an avid photographer, this is a great place to visit.

The bloggers enjoyed a lunch provided by Experience Kissimmee, an instrumental partner in bringing the World Food Championships (WFC) to the “The Gateway to Fun”. Kissimmee puts you right in the middle of the action from world-class theme parks like SeaWorld Orlando to exciting dinner shows like Medieval Times to accommodations that will fit every budget. Experience Kissimmee is a great resource for meeting planners as well.

After a short bus ride back to Celebration, it was time to head back to Parc Soleil for some relaxation for a few hours.

Westgate Resorts Town Center Resort & Spa’s Ship Wreck Island Water Park was closed off to the kiddies for one evening to showcase the Kick-Off Reception for the World Food Championships. As one of the supporters, Westgate Resorts planned a beautiful reception with food stations galore as past winners reunited as the 2015 World Food Championships began. The bloggers gathered near the stage to see how they did. Rebecka Evans, blogger and WFC competitor, won 1st place with a $500 prize. Ken Hulme, blogger and personal chef, won 2nd place with a $250 prize. Cho Wut Yee, blogger and television personality from Myanmar, won 3rd place with a $100 prize. The full score board can viewed here. The author received a score of 80 and placed 19 out of 32.

The 2015 Food Fight Write! Blogger Summit has come to an end but the World Food Championship is just about to start.

To see more photos, please visit OC Food Diva’s Facebook page.

For more information:
Celebration, FL

2491 Babb Road
Kissimmee, FL 34746
Hours: Daily from 10 AM to 4 PM (Closed on Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day)
Admission: $7 for adults, $3 for children 4-12 years old

7700 Westgate Boulevard
Kissimmee, FL 34747