TeamFOGO SCA Cook-off

This week #TeamFOGO gets a taste of the competitive side of barbecue. I brought some of my FOGO teammates to learn more about what it takes to win an SCA competition, and who better than our own Joey Machado to teach us the do’s and don’ts on grilling the perfect SCA Ribeye Steak. We have three teams (mine being the best *wink*), three hot grills and one very hungry judge… who will win?

Not sure about the other teams, but I personally felt the need to take some risks in this competition, it was a go big or go home type of moment. I used a different type of seasoning than what most competitors would use and cooked my steak over a charcoal chimney. Did it pay off? Click play and find out!


I have to admit, before this competition I had a different idea of the level of precision and the skill it takes to compete in an SCA cookoff, not to mention how hard of a job it must be to be a judge in one. For those who are not familiar with the Steak Cook off Association (“SCA”), it is a membership based association that is “Building the sport of steak cook offs” and they sanction  these awesome competitions around the world. 

Joey gave us a run down on the rules and it all sounds fairly simple, all the teams will draw a number, and then they line up in the correct order and choose their steak within 30 seconds (I’m pretty sure we took longer than that), once that is done the last number gets a head start on picking their second steak. After, it's time to fire up the grills - we were all competing with different grills and different bags of FOGO Charcoal, and to make things a bit harder, nature gifted us a LOT of rain!

After we went in for a blind judging, our judge: Joey, rated our steaks from 1 to 5 in four different categories:

  • Appearance
  • Doneness
  • Texture
  • Taste

(For the sake of easiness and time, Joey changed the judging system. Regular SCA scoring consists of a rating from 1 to 10 and it has one more category: Overall Impression)

Along the way I took some valuable tips. These might be helpful if you’re interested in SCA competitions or if you just want to try doing an SCA steak at the comfort of your own home: 

When choosing/preparing your steak:

  • You want to make sure there’s enough marbling because the fat will give you that extra flavor.
  • Take a good look at the spinalis or ‘cap’ since its the most tender part of the cut. This is the part that the judges will try so you want to put quite a bit of importance in it. 
  • When trimming you want to remove any large fat pieces and any silver skin, you want to create and keep a nice round shape.
  • Tie a string around it so when it you cook it, it doesn’t lose the shape.
  • Use simple seasonings/rubs that will not overpower the natural flavor of the steak, such as pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder etc.. You could use some red seasoning to help with the color, like paprika. 

When grilling your steak:

  • The grill should be at around 550 °F.
  • Brush some melted butter on the steak before you put in the grill and every time you flip it. This will it make it harder for the steak to stick to the grill and also give you a more intense grill mark.
  • The steak will be flipped in total 4 times with a minute and twenty seconds in between, alternating sides. To get the perfect diamond pattern, you want to turn the steak 90° from the initial mark.
  • The internal temperature should be  around 128° before you remove the steak out of the grill (this temperature is perfect for a medium rare steak).
  • Once done brush more melted butter on top and let it rest for at least 10 mins before it's served to the judges. Just make sure to remove the string, it's quite easy to forget and you can lose a lot of points if left. 

I’m used to grilling with my gut so it was interesting and somehow challenging to be so focused on detail as you can tell in the video, but it was fun and  its great to see the work that goes behind these competitions. 

I hope you enjoyed meeting some of our team members at FOGO Charcoal and seeing them go face to face on a steak cook-off. 

Tell me more in the comments, have you ever participated in an SCA competition or would you like to? If so, make sure to share your tips for success!


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