083 Brett Gallaway – Steak Cookoff Ass.

Steak Cookoff Association

083 Brett Gallaway -



This is Episode Fifteen of Season Six, my U.S. Road Trip Part II. If you haven’t heard of the Steak Cookoff Association, you might well be living under a rock. It is the fastest growing competitive cooking association in the world and is borne completely from the work of Brett Gallaway and Ken Phillips. In this interview we’re going to get into the nitty gritty of the SCA and learn some shortcuts from their experience to help us start our own competition bodies!

This episode is the end of this Season. But don’t worry – I’ll get plenty of Smoking Hot Confessions into your earbuds again real soon!

Steak Cookoff Association



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  • Last thing that he BBQ’d was a chicken on a Flaming Coals rotisserie
  • He met the Flaming Coals crew at Meatstock Sydney
  • Cam delivered the grill to them in the middle of the night and they took it home with them on the plane that morning
  • He likes the rotisserie and the fact that it’s easy to control the heat on the meat
  • He has 37 different grills now
  • His desk in his office is 2 x 22inch Webers without lids, with a table top mounted across the top
  • His favourite collectable brand is Weber
  • He likes limited edition branded models – Budweiser, Coopers etc
  • Sometimes people don’t know what they have so you can get a good deal on them
  • What is the SCA? 
    • Stands for Steak Cookoff Association
    • They have 6,000 current members and have had 12,000 total competitors
    • He used to be a restaurant manager
    • He used to be a competitive cook and loved it
    • He went to a few steak cookoffs and enjoyed it
    • There was only 9 steak cookoffs at the start and they went to every one
    • There was a different set of rules and no sanctioning body
    • They approached promoters who taught them how sanctioning works and gave them a shot at putting on a few competitions
    • They were able to change the processes to take more of a competitors’ point of view
    • They haven’t done bin-chicken yet, but it’s only a matter of time!
    • They created standardised rules for competitive steak cooking
    • He and fellow co-founder Ken Phillips started at the same competition
    • They got their start from the National Barbeque and Grilling Association
    • At this year’s conference, Brett competed at the Culinary Fight Club, and then visited three states in four days
    • In their first year they did 19 competitions. 2019 is year 6, and they’ve had 371 at the time of recording
      • Brett has been on the road for 49 weekends of the year for SCA
      • They have almost doubled in size every year
      • As a result, they’ve had to reinvent all their systems etc every year
    • He’s learned that some of the things he thought he was good at, he’s actually not that strong, and vice versa
    • SCA was invited into Australia by Jay Beaumont
      • Jay reached out to them via Facebook
      • Then on the phone
      • Then Brett was on a plane to check out Meatstock
    • They decided to get into Australia
      • Trent became their man on the ground in Australia
      • The relationships with Jay and Adam from the ABA have been very important
    • Facebook is how they ended up in Europe too
    • The SCA gives the opportunity for back yard heroes to prove themselves
    • They are now in 15 countries 
      • They just had a steak cookoff in Budapest, Hungary
      • They are in Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Bahamas
      • For the Bahamas competition, they lined up 20 Weber kettles right along the sand of the beach
      • Grill Grates provided the grills, charcoal, Grill Grates, and Thermometers
      • Teams just had to bring their own spices
      • It was a real family event
    • Differences between different countries
      • The meat is the biggest difference
      • The ribs are smaller in Australia
      • The steaks are smaller too – the ribs are not as wide
      • Aussie beef is a lot leaner than American cattle
    • The height of BBQ in America was 6 or 7 years ago
      • Brett was doing 25 BBQ cookoffs per year, plus his 9 steak cookoffs
    • Shogun BBQ are the SCA partners in Japan
      • The team leader is a very successful businessman with a passion for BBQ and now for grilling
      • The hard part in Japan is that they cannot give out cash prizes
      • They can only give away prizes – grills, sake etc
      • All of their events in Japan have had 25 – 35 teams
      • They’re in their second year in Japan now
  • Wildest ancillaries he’s ever seen
    • Devilled eggs
    • Salmon
    • Goat
    • ‘Smores
    • They’re going to put on an ‘Adam Roberts Kebob’ contest
    • Jambalaya in Louisiana
    • Grilled Cheese sandwiches – 2 inches thick, shrimp, coloured cheeses
  • They always keep a pocket book in which they write ideas and suggestions and at the end of each year, they review the ideas and see what they can implement
    • They analyse any decision on the table and take the points of views of everyone involved – competitors, promoters etc
    • They try and shoot holes in each suggestion
  • They avoid using a board model and the boards too often get deadlocked and go nowhere
  • Brett’s highlights
    • In the second year, a 62 year old man won the competition and when he had his photo taken, he was trembling from excitement and nervousness
    • He’s had a letter written to him from one gentleman who said he didn’t have many friends and wasn’t very happy until he joined the SCA and now he has friends around the world
    • The same man has an autistic son who he cooks with. The son cooked in his first SCA a few weeks ago and got a call. The crowd went nuts in support
  • What does 2020 look like for the SCA
    • They just got Taste as their national sponsor
    • They are booking a national tour of the Ace Hardware chains
    • People are now booking events 9 and 12 months ahead
    • Their 2020 calendar is already up
    • There were 9 events in Australia last year and 22 this year
    • They’ve been selected to be a part of ‘Legends of the Fire’ video series





  •  If you’ve got an idea to start an organisation of your own, start by reaching out to your personal contact network
  • People are willing to donate if you’re a not-for-profit
    • However, the SCA is NOT a not-for-profit as it complicates everything when expanding into different countries that have different rules etc for not-for-profits
    • They still do have charities that they work with and donations go straight to the charities, not to the SCA
  • Who do you need on your team? 
    • You need:
      • A frontman
      • A computer person (website & social media)
      • A finance person (memberships etc)
      • An office person
      • A marketing person (including designing flyers etc)
      • Each team member needs to be a specialist
  • Partnerships with wider industry
    • You have to be friends and forge alliances with other bodies
    • They have alliances with the Memphis Barbecue Network
    • Partnerships help jump start things
  • How important is a social media strategy
    • They wouldn’t be in Australia without one
    • It helps you grow and meet new people
    • Social media has changed advertising
    • They don’t do a lot of advertising outside of social media
  • Some common problems to watch out for:
    • Financial – when they started they lost everything they had
    • Social media helps a lot here too
    • He had to lose his truck to put the money into SCA to keep it going
    • He has now been able to replace that truck with a new car, several years later after achieving success with SCA
  • How do you ensure future viability of the organisation:
    • You need to communicate openly and often with promoters. They need to know what worked and what didn’t
    • You need to constantly evolve, adding new things, and cutting things that don’t work
    • Adam Roberts has been a great resource for the SCA, giving loads of advice
    • Recruiting and building a team rather than trying to do everything yourself
    • Have a solid business model – membership, or sponsorship?
    • Are your events going to be completely sponsored, so your comp can run at no cost to your organisation? 
  • Top 3 Pieces of Advice:
    • Be smart enough to listen to the good people
    • Find mentors that can help and guide you
    • Support – you’ve got to have your family behind you
  • Brisket – fat side down
  • Steak- Rib-eye
  • No mustard binder on ribs
  • Sauce on the side
  • Money muscle – fantastic
  • Nemesis cut – t-bone steak. The two muscles cook differently
  • One tip or trick – the salt brine. Can turn a select steak into a brine
  • Next trend in BBQ – steak. New categories. No tofu categories at SCA
  • The secret to winning SCA – cook like you’re in your backyard
  • Fantasy BBQ League – Johnny Joseph, the Top 10 female cookers currently in the SCA ladder



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