Van Zandt woman wins cook-off

If Van Zandt County’s Janet Baker invites you over for a cookout, you should definitely go. Baker came in first at the 903 Brewers Second Annual Steak Cook-off held in March in Sherman.

Sponsored by the Steak Cook-off Association, the competition featured 31 cooks from Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas including several previous world champions.

 “I almost turned around Friday, I was so nervous,” Baker said. “I thought I would be lucky to hit close to last. When I got there on Saturday and met the SCA family, I knew I would love it.  “There was some world champions there and when they called my number out for first place I couldn't believe it. There was so many good cooks there.” Although she has a barbecue team, this was Baker’s first SCA cook-off. “I had never completed in Steaks at this level before,” she said, “and I won first place. Awesome experience!”

The secret to her culinary creation?  “Grill Grates is what it's all about,” she said. “You couldn't get those pretty diamond marks without the Grill Grates and a good Weber. With her place in the world championship steak-off secure, Baker said she still plans to keep on cooking. “I plan on going to more SCA events to up my points and gain more knowledge in the SCA,” she said. The world championship steak competition will be at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth in October.  The steak championship contest isn’t the only one Baker has her sights on.

 “I plan on continuing cooking with my barbecue team – Smokin' a Lit'll Somethin' – with hopes of getting in the State Finals this year with the IBCA. I love to cook and love competition,” Baker said. “Steaks, brisket, ribs and chicken, no matter!” The Smokin’ a Lit’ll Something barbecue team is comprised of Baker, Cody Rodgers and Ron Alexander.

Baker said one of the highlights of winning was being able to tell her dad, Jackie Fagg.

 “My biggest supporter and the one that pushed me the most is my dad,” she said. “He's in Anderson's Nursing Home. He told me I could do it. It was priceless when I told him I won.”

Although it was a solo competition, Baker said she had a lot of support from acquaintances, family and friends.  “Bobby Stewart from Terrell told me I was ready to give it a try,” she said, “That is was time for me to move forward to SCA competition. “I had some great coaching from Byan McLarty out of South Lake, Danny Patton from Shinner, Bobby Stewart from Terrell and Doug Wireman from Emory. They are great cooks. I couldn't have done it without their support. I met a whole new cooking family!”Baker is from the Fruitvale, Grand Saline area.  Matt Means of Means Hardware in Grand Saline was her steak taste tester, she said. “He pushed me and gave me the confidence to move forward as well,” Baker said. “He said it was the best steak he ever had and he knew I could do it. I just had to lean the Grill Grates and the Weber.”