As one of the beef industry’s top inspirational cooking competitions, the National Beef Cook-Off®, funded by the Beef Checkoff, is in the homestretch of announcing its finalists and region winners for 2013. Home cooks are vying for a chance to win $25,000 and a trip to the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show in Washington, D.C.

“This year’s program steps up communication outreach on cooking with beef, inspiring home cooks to prepare nutritious beef recipes and encourage beef purchases,” said Evelyn Brown, Cook-Off Program Committee Chairman, for the American National CattleWomen, Inc., a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. “The overall goal of this program is to target new consumers through new channels of communication — reaching a wider and more diverse group of consumers.”

Promoting the value and versatility of beef to consumers is a strong driving force behind this competition. The contest seeks to motivate, inspire and educate consumers to prepare delicious, nutritious and convenient everyday beef recipes more often. It gives them the confidence to go beyond the traditional burger or steak and create a culinary delight.

The program also employs extensive national and local media outreach efforts to build on the excitement of the contest. Social media is also incorporated in all live promotions and announcements to encourage viral spread. In the ever changing and challenging marketing environment, it is critical for the Checkoff to connect with consumers in this way.

“Making the Most of MyPlate” Theme

Entrants were asked to develop original and tasty beef-focused recipes that included broadly appealing ingredients from the fruit and vegetable, grain products and dairy products groups. Recipes this year focused on a “Make the Most of MyPlate” theme and were entered in four categories:

  • Belt-Tightening Beef Recipes – Home cooks create nutritious and affordable beef recipes that are great values to prepare.
  • Semi-Homemade Beef Recipes – Home cooks demonstrate how easy it is to cook with

      beef when they combine any fresh beef cut and fresh ingredients with prepackaged food products.

  • Real-Worldly, Real Simple Beef & Potato Recipes – Home cooks create original easy-to-make lean beef and fresh potato centered recipes that feature international flavors and maintain a nutritious profile.
  • Craveable Fresh Beef and California Avocado Recipes – Home cooks produce easy recipes using all fresh ingredients, featuring one of the lean beef cuts and at least one fresh California avocado.

21 regional finalists recently announced include:

Region 1:

  • Korean BBQ Beef on Lettuce – Lisa Keys, Kennett Square, Pa. (Voted Consumers’ Favorite Recipe)
  • Tacos with Lime-Jalapeño Cream – MacKenzie Severson, Germantown, Md.
  • Simple Spanish Beef & Potato Wraps – Christina Verrelli, Devon, Pa.

Region 2:

  • Apricot Teriyaki Beef Stir-Fry – Janet Gray, Lexington, S.C.
  • Grecian Flat Iron with Quinoa – Debbie Reid, Clearwater, Fla.
  • Tuscan Burgers & Avocado-Tomato Spread – Harold Cohen, Hollywood, Fla.

Region 3:

  • Greek-Style Beef & Potatoes – Crystal Schmidt, Altoona, Wis.
  • Pesto Steak & Artichoke Sandwich – Sonya Goergen, Moorhead, Minn.
  • Beef Tacos with Pomegranate Guacamole – Jim Bradley, Chicago, Ill.

Region 4:

  • Korean Beef & Vegetable Bowls – Teresa Cardin, Stephenville, Texas
  • Lemon Grass Beef with Avocado – Loanne Chiu, Fort Worth, Texas
  • Cali-Avocado Steak Salad – Abbie Argersinger, Austin, Texas

Region 5:

  • Mediterranean Beef & Pesto Fingerling Fries – Kelly Mapes, Fort Collins, Colo.
  • Bistro Steak & Mediterranean Potato Medley – Stacy Reed, Gresham, Ore.
  • Simple Beef & Potato Skillet Olé – Deborah McGuire, West Linn, Ore.

Region 6:

  • Balsamic & Blue Cheese Steak Sandwich – Emily Detwiler, Truckee, Calif.
  • Cali-Caribbean Steak Street Tacos – Mary Hawkes, Prescott, Ariz.
  • Harvest Steak & Quinoa Salad – Merry Graham, Newhall, Calif.

Region 7:

  • Pesto-Pepper Jack Sliders – April Sadler, Topeka, Kan.
  • Mango Tango Tacos – Julie Danler, Bel Aire, Kan.
  • Italian Beef Pot Pie – Julie Grobe, York, Neb.

From the 21 finalists, seven $1,500 regional winners will be announced on July 15. One different $25,000 grand prizewinner will be announced from the remaining 14 finalists, at the November Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show in Washington, D.C. The grand prize winner will be selected based on the highest overall scoring recipe.

“This highly competitive cook-off taps into an audience of strong beef eaters and creates a growing awareness of the versatility of cooking with beef,” said Brown. “We hope it helps deepen the home cook’s knowledge of beef and ultimately grooms a new generation of beef lovers.”

For more information about your beef checkoff investment, visit MyBeefCheckoff.com.