"I've never cooked in front of a group of people before, usually just for friends. But it should be fun," Miller said about grilling in the regional contest. "I'm looking forward to it."
After reading about the challenge in Wine Spectator magazine in May, he decided to enter the Fiery Flank Steak recipe that he had debuted earlier that month for his wife, Carole, and another couple.
"It's easy to make and it's tasty," he said, referring to the recipe, which takes about 20 minutes to cook and prepare. "There's a sauce that goes on it that's honey and vinegar and garlic and ketchup with jalapeno peppers. ... [Being selected] was exciting.
"It was something different. I didn't really expect it when I submitted the recipe so it's always nice to get a pleasant surprise like that."
Excited for her husband's opportunity to compete in the cooking contest, Carole Miller believes the recipe's flavor combinations will set his steak apart from other entries.
"I believe the sauce is the key," she said. "It gets its name from the sauce -- the Fiery Flank Steak. The ingredients that stand out to make the impact [are] fresh jalapeno, diced, and a little bit of honey and that seems to make it interesting -- the hot spicy along with the sweet."
To enter the regional contests, each original recipe needed to consist of a beef steak -- toppings are permitted -- prepared on an outdoor grill; take 30 minutes or less to prepare and cook; and be paired with a wine from the Beringer Founders' Estate portfolio, of which Miller recommended a red Zinfandel. During the competition, the contestants' offerings will be judged on originality, taste appeal, wine pairing and simplicity.
If Miller advances to the finale at Beringer Vineyards in Napa, he will compete against the other nine regional winners for three cash prizes, ranging from $2,500 to $15,000.
According to the website www.greatsteakchallenge.com, "The Beringer Great Steak Challenge is a nationwide competition that kicks off this summer proving that steak and wine -- two of America's timeless and tastiest obsessions -- really are the perfect combination. People across the country are encouraged to share their most creative steak recipes at GreatSteakChallenge.com and win a number of great prizes, plus a lifetime of bragging rights. ... Beringer [Vineyards] partnered with Jamie and Bobby Deen to challenge everyone from gourmet chefs to backyard grillers to pair their greatest steak recipes with Beringer's finest wines. The Deen brothers, sons of Southern cooking queen Paula Deen and New York Times best-selling authors, are journeying across the country cooking up great steaks flavored with Beringer-inspired marinades and ingredients."