Cook has a shelf full of trophies

Published 8:12 am Wednesday, September 2, 2009

ZUNI—When Steve Ivey and his family joined Tucker Swamp Baptist Church in 1995, Ivey already had a reputation as a good cook.

But no one, not even Ivey himself, could envision what lay ahead for the 52-year-old father of two.

With about a dozen helpers and a $6,500 custom grill made especially for this purpose, he entered into competitive barbecue grilling in several contests in the eastern part of North Carolina.

He almost always wins a trophy, has a shelf filled with them, as a matter of fact, although the top prize for cooking has eluded him.

“The closest we’ve come to that is third place,” he said. “But we’re working on it. Our time is near.”

Ivey started out cooking for his family, then for church functions and eventually for fundraisers. He says his group does not take any money. “We try to raise money for a good cause, and that’s where the money goes.”

He added that his team has already raised about $30,000 for various causes.

“For instance, we were at the Franklin Fall Festival, where all the money we made was turned over to our church’s disaster relief. “That’s the type of fundraiser we conduct.”

It was in 2005 when he started competition cooking, he said. Eventually he came up with a cooking team that is as competitive as he is.

“These people are good Christian folks, who love the fellowship and just want to help,” Ivey said as he named the group, which includes Joe Poe, Jayson Brinkley, Pam and Jerry Sadler, Drew Lucas, Justin Bailey and Gary, Debbie and Evan Ranigan.

Ivey said his wife, Lynn, son Brandon and daughter Kristen are also there. He noted that his wife and children cook as well as he does.

“We’ve won a trophy for showmanship (presentation) several times,” he said, “twice this past year. We start working on that the minute we get there,” he added, noting that his team almost always uses a patriotic theme.

Ivey said the contest usually lasts two days. “His team, aptly named “Nothin’ ‘Butt’ Fun,” usually gets its pig late Friday and spends nine to 10 hours cooking it. Once this is judged the next day, the sponsors usually take the meat and chop it up.

“Sometimes they sell dinners, sometimes the meat is sold by the people who sponsor a pig, but the money always goes to benefit a good cause,” he said.

Ivey revealed that his group is up against about 25 other people who have been barbequing all their lives.

“These people know what they’re doing,” he said, “so I’m proud that we’ve come so close to the top prize. And I’m proud of my team.”

Ivey said he cannot say enough about his grill, which was built especially to his specifications. “It has a flipover grate, which allows you to cook one side, then flip the entire pig over more easily for cooking on the other side.

“But the best thing,” he said, “is that you can cook an entire meal on it.”

To prove his remarks, he lifted the hood and removed a chocolate cake from the grill, while on either side, the potatoes, beans and barbequed chicken continued to cook.

“It’s too early to cook the bread,” he said with a grin.

Name: Steve Ivey

Age: 52

Occupation: A tower operator at International Paper.

Favorite food: Barbecue pork

Least favorite food: Brussels sprouts

What is the first thing you remember cooking? Scrambled eggs and toast in the oven. Actually, I started out to cook fried eggs, but they turned out scrambled.

What has been your worst cooking experience? It would have to be the pot of collards I burned up. I picked the collards out of the garden, washed and deveined them, put them in the pot with my side meat, turned on the heat and went outside. After about 15 minutes, I smelled something like leaves burning. Upon investigation, I found that I had forgotten to put any water in the pot. Ruined everything — we even had to throw the pot away.

One ingredient you can’t cook without? Lemon pepper. I think it gives everything a better flavor.

What is the most important thing you have learned about cooking? Cook slowly and don’t keep removing the lid on the pot to see how the food is doing. When you’re looking, you’re not cooking.

Who is the best cook you have ever known and why? My father, George Ivey. He has always cooked and I learned a lot from him, like how to season foods. Sometimes just a little extra seasoning will make a big difference. My dad started out cooking for church, so did I as a matter of fact, and he taught me how to cook for large crowds. Most of my sisters and brothers cook and one sister turned out to be a caterer.

If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Barbecue ribs

Steve ivey’S Broccoli Casserole ingredients

1 medium bag frozen broccoli

2 slices toast, crumbled

1 can cream of chicken soup (10 3/4 oz)

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 large onion chopped

Grated sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste


Boil broccoli until tender.

Mix eggs, cream of chicken soup, onion, salt and pepper.

Stir in crumbled toast and mix with broccoli.

Turn mixture into casserole dish, sprinkle grated cheese over top and bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.