BULLARD, TX (KLTV) - Being chosen Texas Chef of the Year is a huge honor, one that Chef Rick Neal never dreamed of as a boy, cooking up steaks for his dad's Texas style parties in California.
"My dad's from Texas so he would get the Lone Star Beer shipped in and he would put his cowboy hat on, his boots and then get these big, one and a half cut Porterhouse."
Even with such a colorful beginning, Neal says he was more interested in being a tattoo artist or Harley Davidson mechanic, that being a chef. So it was primarily his parent who chose culinary school in Dallas for their son.
However, once involved in classes, Neal fell in love with the culinary world.
"It's a career I really didn't choose it was brought to me and I turned it into a passion."
As Executive Chef at Eagle's Bluff Country Club in Bullard, Neal whips up a wide range of culinary delights for members. When asked what his favorite dish to cook is, he answers, "Whatever the customer wants.
"It's whatever the customer wants because we want the customer to be happy."
Neal says to make customers happy you need to start with quality.
"My opinion is if you start off with a good product, you're going to finish with a great product."
Neal buys local products as much as possible, and a good steak is primary for the Texas palate.
"I'm going to teach you how to cook a New York strip.
Neal cooks his steaks over high heat to sear in the flavor. After basting with butter, he says salt and pepper are all that's needed to finish the product.
As for that Texas favorite chicken fried steak, that's one of his specialties too.
"It needs to be big and it needs to be golden and gorgeous."
Rick Neal's love of food and expertise in the kitchen, have won him the highest honor awarded chef's, Texas chef of the Year.
"It's by far the highest honor I've ever had.
Neal will go on to compete for Regional Chef of the Year, and maybe even for the National and International titles, and you can be sure that a Texas flavor will go along with him.
"The way I look at it, Texas has taken very good care of me. I want to do the same back and I want to spread Texas all over the country."