CORRIGAN, TX (KTRE) - For over twenty years, the Clifton family in Corrigan has been cooking up special recipes for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Cook Off, and this year was no exception.
The 25-member Chevy Cookers took home the top award a couple weeks ago for the Dutch Oven Dessert Competition. John Clifton, the team coordinator for the group and owner of Clifton Chevrolet, says he is proud of the four banners and two trophies he took home in February.
"We had a very successful year this year. Most of the time, if you can bring home one banner you consider yourself very fortunate. They've got about 400 teams and those banners are highly coveted," Clifton said.
But it's the bronzed statue with its iconic cowboy boots and hat that is the most coveted by Clifton.
After several years of trying, the group brought home the first place award for the Dutch Oven Dessert Contest.
"We did basically a Bananas Foster cake. We did real well with it last year. We placed in the top eleventh or twelfth place. I think and then we decided to go back with the same recipe and we were fortunate enough to win," Clifton said.
Clifton says there is no secret to the recipe, they found it online. But he believes they won because of some tweaks they made.
"It was very good. It was extremely good and of course, I think it's because it was a little different. We really kind of hit on one that really hit well and were able to modify it to a point that it was unique. We also put our own spin on it," Clifton said.
Clifton says he usually leaves the cooking to his mother and focuses more on getting the equipment they need for the cook off to Houston. He says he hauls all equipment to the rodeo with a 40-foot trailer, an 88-foot trailer, a cooler trailer, a storage trailer and an RV.
The team has two 40-by-40 reserved spots at the rodeo and sets up white tents, which they decorate with the year's theme. This year's theme was rodeo and had red, white and blue adornments from ceiling to floor.
This is one of the reasons why the team also won first place for the Cleanest Area and runner up for Most Colorful.
"You're talking about a cook off with over 400 teams, you've got to do something to separate yourself from that crowd. You can cook the best barbeque in your opinion that is the best you've ever cooked, but you might not place with it. I think consistency year after year ultimately means that your number will come up one year," Clifton said.
Even though the competition is over, Clifton says his team is already drawing up a plan for next year.