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Serving up winners: Local man finalist in nationwide cooking competition

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A talented culinary wizard is living right in your backyard and he’s got mouth-watering foods to share.

Blake Sykora, an Indianhead Insurance agent and Chippewa Falls Area Chamber of Commerce representative by day, moonlights as a chef and self-proclaimed foodie. Sykora is a top-four finalist in the nationwide 2021 Blackstone Great Griddle Off, a cooking competition aiming to find undiscovered cooking prodigies who utilize Blackstone products in their creations.

The acclaimed food Sykora entered into the competition is a Wisconsin cheesesteak featuring locally sourced bratwurst, peppers/onions, beer cheese, sauerkraut and peppers served up on a hoagie.

Sykora said he entered the competition a few weeks ago in order to find an outlet to express himself and his hidden talent of cooking mouth-watering edible works of art.

“I’ve always had a passion for cooking,” Sykora said. “When I was younger I always thought about becoming a chef. I enjoy cooking outside and discovering new ways of making food and I saw this as a way to continue pursuing that passion and seeing how I stack up against other chefs around the nation.”

The Blackstone Great Griddle Off is a competition put on by the industry-leading griddle manufacturer and features four categories, with the winner of each category facing off for the golden spatula award. A condition of the competition is all entries must be made on a Blackstone griddle.

Of 180 entries in the lunch/dinner category, Sykora came out on top and now faces off against the three other finalists in one last round of cooking and voting.

Even though the competition is not yet complete, Sykora has already won a prize pack featuring various Blackstone accessories, a spot in the Blackstone cookbook and a chance to cook virtually with a to-be-determined celebrity chef.

With his eyes on the golden spatula, Sykora said he hopes to bring the award back to Wisconsin and show the nation how talented chefs are in the state.

“I hope to put Wisconsin on the map as a culinary destination,” Sykora said. “Obviously we’re known for our cheese, and our beer, but we do have great all-around chefs here too. You don’t have to go to the coasts to find quality and tasty food.”

The final round of voting for the 2021 Blackstone Great Griddle Off is open through Thursday and the winner will be announced Friday. You can vote now on


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