South Dakota CattleWomen host Beef Basket Challenge with Holly & Charlie Hoffman |

South Dakota CattleWomen host Beef Basket Challenge with Holly & Charlie Hoffman

Beef took center stage at the 2011 South Dakota State Fair during the South Dakota CattleWomen’s Association (SDCWA) annual State Fair Beef Cook-Off held Sept. 3 in Huron, SD. The day was filled with creative new beef dishes prepared by 13 adult and youth contestants that were evaluated by a set of judges. Following the competition was a star-studded event, the Beef Basket Challenge, featuring reality show finalist, Holly Hoffman from “Survivor,” who competed against her husband, legislator Charlie Hoffman.

The event was hosted by the SDCWA and funded by the state’s beef producers through beef checkoff dollars. It was standing room only as Holly Hoffman spoke about her experiences on the reality show and signed photographs to the crowd.

“The show is the real deal; there are no porta-potties and showers in the background for us to use,” said Hoffman. “I went 17 days without eating, and I survived on a couple of spoonfuls of rice each day. I lost a lot of weight during the show, and it’s a diet I wouldn’t recommend. Now, when my plate is filled, I eat everything on it! I’ve never had so much support for something in my whole life. I was proud to represent my state, and I’m so thankful for the people who sent cards and letters to me during and after the show.”

While Hoffman was in Hollywood’s limelight last year, her husband, Charlie, is no stranger to the spotlight either. In addition to his role as a rancher and state legislator, he was the 2010 State Legislative Showmanship champion at the previous year’s state fair. He is also a beef aficionado, happy to share his cooking expertise with the crowd.

“At the grocery store, when shopping for ribeye steaks, look for a lot of marbling and little exterior fat,” he recommended. “For roasts, look for a thin layer of fat that you remove before slow cooking, and for prime rib, you want a large layer of fat. I like to cook a lot at home, and I put a lot of crazy stuff in my food, but it always seems to come out well when working with the right ingredients. That’s how I grew up eating, and it’s fun to cook beef in the kitchen.”

The duo paired off in the kitchen in front of a large crowd. They were presented with a mystery basket of ingredients including: Sam Adams beer, blue cheese, mangos, green peppers, onions, sweet basil, olive oil, hot sauce, garlic, onions, butter, green chilies, mushrooms, cucumbers, tomatoes, mayonnaise and flank steak. They were given one hour to create a beef dish to be voted on by the audience.

Charlie whipped up a tenderized flank steak, sauteed in olive oil with onions, potatoes and mushrooms, paired with a cucumber salad with homemade Cajun dressing and mango garnish. Meanwhile, Holly sliced up vegetables and beef and grilled steak kabobs for the crowd. Charlie was assisted by SDCWA member Dawn Nagel of Gettysburg, SD, while Ruth Anne Farnsworth was the sous chef in Holly’s kitchen. After a taste-testing, Charlie edged Holly in the competition, but beef was the winner at the end of the day. He was only happy to boast about the state’s beef producers after the competition.

“We are the first and only state in the country to have a certified beef program that can source- and age-verify our products,” he said, referring to South Dakota Certified Beef. “We are leading the way in beef production across the country, and with our new plant opening up in Aberdeen, we will now have a place to process our beef instead of shipping it out-of-state. I’m proud of the state’s beef producers, and we are one step closer to providing the nation with the best-tasting, highest-quality beef ever, straight from South Dakota ranches.”

For complete details on beef recipes from the cookoff, visit out or For more information on South Dakota Certified Beef, link to

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