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Welcome Grill Teams!


The 14th Annual Sunshine State Steak Cook-off will be Saturday, January 27, 2024 and is the highlight of the day in Ave Maria Florida.  We would like to invite you to share in the competition and the excitement, not to mention a great meal including a 16oz boneless ribeye steak, potato salad roll and water. 

This year there will be over 2000 steaks cooked in the town center of Ave Maria, FL. We will be hosting 20-25 grills of all shapes and sizes with cook teams from near and far.  Be sure and get your dinner tickets early as we almost sold out again last year and they will go fast.  Steak tickets are available online here or can be purchased at:  Ave Maria Development Welcome Center, and the
Ave Maria Parish Office.

We want to thank our Sponsors for all their donations including over $4000 in prize money, trophies and event support.  So grill teams, competition was tight last year, you have your work cut out for you.  We hope you are up for the challenge of this ever growing popular event in southwestern Florida.  


Overall Winner/1st Place Grand Champion–

Sunshine State Trophy & $1,500 prize money


1st Runner Up - Trophy & $1,000
2nd Runner Up - Trophy & $500

3rd Runner Up - Trophy & $160

4th Runner Up - Trophy 

The charcoal and ribeyes are provided to insure equality in judging.  You are responsible for your own spices, rubs, marinades, and seasonings.  READ Grill Team Cooking Rules & Team Information as well as the Judging Rules below for complete details.



Any interested grill team can call Juan Cruz in Immokalee.  He has grills that he will rent for $125.  Just tell him it is for the Steak Cook-Off in Ave Maria.  Reminder - this is a 24 hour rental, you pick up and bring back, and the grill needs to be cleaned when returned.  His phone # 239-707-3851.




  1. APPLICATION DEADLINE IS December 31st.  After this date, the grill teams will be accepted on an as-needed-basis based on ticket sales.

  2. Team Gifts are not guaranteed after the Application Deadline.

  3. No other beef is to be present on the La Piazza other than the Official Beef SSSCO ribeyes that the teams were given. If any other beef is found, your team will be disqualified from the steak judging.

  4. NO SAMPLES of Steak will be given out to the public during the event.

  5. No samples of any food item will be given out after 3:00 pm.

  6. SSSCO will supply charcoal – one (1) bag per 30 steaks. Cooking teams are responsible for other types of fuel (wood, charcoal but no gas) and lighter fluid if needed.

  7. SSSCO will supply one 20 lbs. bag of ice for every 50 steaks, when steaks are issued. If you need additional ice, the team will need to provide it.

  8. SSSCO will provide ribeye steaks. Teams are to provide ice chests for steak storage.

  9. All steaks remain the property of the SSSCO. Teams are expected to account for all steaks issued, either by turning in a ticket stub or a cooked steak. We realize that a steak is occasionally lost in the cooking process. We understand this and make allowances where necessary. 

  10. All steaks are to be handled in a sanitary manner. Plastic gloves will be provided and are to be used in handling the steaks at all times.

  11. Grills will be inspected for cleanliness before cooking. Unclean grills will be rejected.

  12. The cooking teams provide all seasonings and “secret ingredients”.

  13. Cooking teams are responsible for providing tables and chairs as needed at their cooking area.

  14. Cooking teams will need to BRING cooler/s that have a drain and meat thermometer.

  15. Some type of fire extinguishing device should be readily available to each cooker.

  16. Steaks may not be removed from your numbered cooking area. Any violation of this will result in immediate team disqualification from the competition.

  17. All participants are required to cook additional steaks associated with the amount of tickets purchased for dinner plates. 


  1. The Team’s Entry Steak will be judged on Appearance, Degree of Doneness (medium), Tenderness, Taste, and Overall Impression.

  2. No branding irons or other identifying marks are to be used on the steaks submitted for judging. This includes sauces and garnishes.  Your entry will be automatically disqualified if presented for judging with any identifying marks.

  3. At Chief Cook's meeting at noon, you will receive an official box to be used for submitting your entry steak to the judges. There will be two sealed envelopes attached to the box in which there are identical numbers. Remove one of the envelopes from the box and the other envelope is to remain attached and turned in with your steak entry. The removed envelope is to stay sealed until the awards presentation ceremony at the main stage. Bring your sealed envelope to the awards presentation. The Chief Cook will be told when to open the envelope. Opening the envelope prior to this time WILL result in disqualification of the cooking team. This is to insure anonymity of all steaks submitted for judging.

  4. Between 2:30 pm and 3:30 pm, at the Chief Cook’s discretion, a steak for judging is to be selected, placed in the official box and delivered to the judge’s station, which is located in the Parish Center on the Piazza, with the second envelope still attached.

  5. All steaks submitted for judging are to be cooked medium. For this contest, medium is interpreted as pink and moist in the center of the ribeye - not red and running. So remember that degree of doneness is one of the very important criteria in the steak judging.

  6. There will be a panel of judges. The judges will not know the identity of the cooking teams. The steaks will be scored by number only and the identifying number of the cooking teams will not be known until the awards ceremony. 

Grill Team Rules
Judging Rules
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