We’ve written about COVID puppies, COVID babies and even books written during the pandemic, but this story is a bit different.
It all started about 10 years ago when Ryan Stevenson of Smyrna earned a promotion at work. He told his wife, Nicole, that he was going to pick up some steaks so they could celebrate. He arrived with the steaks, but there was no seasoning to be found.
“Nicole told me to go into the cupboard and figure something out,” recalls Ryan. “So, I did.”
That seasoning, called Game Day, is now the bestseller for the couple’s company, Shore Smoke Seasonings, which they launched full-scale when Ryan lost his job due to COVID.
“We had been giving spice mixes away and even started selling some, but it wasn’t until the pandemic that we decided to really launch it as a business,” Ryan says, citing Nicole as his biggest supporter.
The company has recipes for 40 spice mixes. About 16 of them are produced and for sale on its website and through local and national stores, including Ace Hardware. More blends are in the works.
The mixes cover the gamut. Besides Game Day, which is perfect for grilled steaks and chicken, there is also a blackening spice, BBQ Bash, Satan Spice and Paradise Party, which is a sweeter spice with hints of orange and lemon.
The best way to try a variety is to start with the 15-spice sampler. Don’t miss Daily Grind, a blend with hints of coffee that’s perfect on smoked meats but works just as well on desserts.
Since getting into the spice game, Ryan has also found a passion for steak and barbecue competitions. Shore Smoke Seasonings sponsored 17 teams competing in the March Steak Cookoff Association world championships in Fort Worth, Texas.
“Competitions are really fun, but the steak is outside the realm of what you would cook at home,” Ryan says. “It is always a ribeye, but it is trimmed down so much that it looks like a hockey puck. That’s what they compete with.”
Ryan and Shore Smoke are excited to bring the first SCA-sanctioned steak competition to Delaware. In partnership with Blue Earl Brewing Company in Smyrna, Shore Smoke will host an all-day steak competition on Saturday, Aug. 13. Sponsors and partner organizations are still needed. If you are interested in being part of this inaugural event, call 943-4675.
There will be two opportunities to compete in the steak category. Competitors can either compete in Steak A or Steak B or they can compete in both. You get two steaks per competition, so if you do both, you will end up cooking four steaks.
There will be other competitions as well so the whole family can get involved. Competitors can choose from Best Appetizer, Best Hot Dog and, a kids-only category, Best Grilled Cheese.
The event is expected to last from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., like a “big tailgate party,” Ryan says. Blue Earl will provide beverages, and there will be additional food trucks and vendors.
“I hope Delaware can become a big barbecue and steak competition state like North Carolina or even Texas. This could be something that people travel for each year,” he says.
Register by August 1 to compete.
For those interested in joining a community and learning more about smoking meats and grilling steaks, he suggests joining the Facebook group, True Smoke BBQ.
Learn more about the SCA cookoff at Blue Earl, including guidelines, here.
Learn more about Shore Smoke Seasonings here.
Related: Take Your Thanksgiving Meal to the Next Level With Tips From Delaware Chefs