Amateur cook Mary Hawkes of Prescott, AZ, won the “Best of Beef” grand prize at last week’s National Beef Cook-Off in Sonoma, CA. Her recipe for “Sonoma Steaks with Vegetables Bocconcini” was judged as the best of 15 finalists, earning Hawkes $25,000.

The recipe featured grilled beef top loin steaks, zucchini, yellow bell pepper and red grape tomatoes tossed with herb-marinated fresh mozzarella balls. Judges noted the overall simplicity of the recipe, the efficient use of ingredients and the mellow flavor of the mozzarella balls partnered with the smoky grilled steak and vegetables. Nutritional analysis shows the dish is an excellent source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, selenium and zinc. It also is a good source of iron.

Winners were recognized at the checkoff-funded event in three other categories. Prizes were awarded for first and second place in the following divisions: “Live Well with Fast and Convenient Grilled Beef Recipes”; “Teens Cooking with Beef”; and “Lean beef in Nutrient Rich One-Dish Meals.”

In a separate Cook-Off event, six professional chefs from the San Francisco and Sacramento areas competed head-to-head with their original beef dishes. The top recipe was prepared by Carlo Cavallo, executive chef and proprietor of the Meritage restaurant in Sonoma, CA.

Managed by the American National CattleWomen, the National Beef Cook-Off is considered to be among the top three cooking contests in the nation. Winning recipes are widely distributed to promote the versatility, nutritional value and flavor of beef.

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