This weekend Brian Sack, executive chef at The Famous steakhouse in downtown Colorado Springs, will trade the confines of his clean, sleek, modern kitchen for the dust, dirt and grit of the chuckwagon.
Sack is the only local chef that will be competing in the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo’s Chuckwagon Cookoff this weekend, and he’s digging his heels in for a competition that’s foreign to him.
“We don’t cook on outdoor fire pits at The Famous, so it’s going to be different,” he said. “I always thought it was cool when professional chefs got involved in outdoor cooking competitions. I think this is going to be a lot of fun.”
The cookoff competiton is Friday, July 16, and the rodeogoers can buy tickets for a chuckwagon trail dinner on Saturday, July 17.
Sack, a first-time chuckwagon chef, will be competing against seven other veteran chuckwagon and trail “cookies” from across the west.
Each chuckwagon team is given the same basic rations: beef, flour, beans and peaches among other things. Then, they’re only allowed to use spices that were available during the late 1800s.
The competition’s focus is authenticity. Participants wear period clothing, cook with period utensils, and use period ingredients. Judges deduct points for the incorporation of anything modern.
“It’s real chuckwagon food, the way it was cooked in the Wild West,” Sack said.
His meal plans so far include stew, sourdough biscuits and peach cobbler.
“The other cooks might have experience on their side, but we’re trained chefs. We’re going to have the advantage of flavor,” Sack said. “We’ll have unique taste.”
Chuckwagon chefs hope to serve nearly 500 rodeo attendees, and tickets for the Saturday meal are still available.
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased on-sight or ordered through Chris Jones at 331-2494 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meal time begins at 5 p.m. Saturday on the grounds of the Norris-Penrose Events Center, 1045 Lower Gold Camp Road.
Proceeds from tickets sales help fund military charities and rotary community projects.