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'This is a community win': Chippewa Falls man wins nationwide cooking competition

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The golden spatula is coming home to Wisconsin.

Blake Sykora, an Indianhead Insurance agent and Chippewa Falls Area Chamber of Commerce representative, is the winner of the nationwide 2021 Blackstone Great Griddle Off cooking competition, taking home the golden spatula award for his creation, the Wisconsin cheesesteak.

“This is a community win,” Sykora said. “This is a win for Wisconsin, a win for the Chippewa Valley and this was a win for everyone in this area. The support I received from the community, and people I didn’t even know, makes me feel blessed, humbled and honored. I’m glad to have helped put Wisconsin on the map in this competition.”

Sykora took home the win Friday after a final fan vote had his then top-four entry ascending over the hump,

The Blackstone Great Griddle Off is a cooking competition put on by industry-leading griddle manufacturer Blackstone Products, aiming to find undiscovered cooking prodigies who utilize Blackstone products in their creations. The Wisconsin cheesesteak he won with includes locally sourced bratwurst, peppers/onions, beer cheese, sauerkraut and peppers served up on a hoagie.

Of 180 entries in the lunch/dinner category, Sykora came out on top and then defeated the winners of the three other categories to remain the last man standing in the competition. Sykora’s winnings include a prize pack featuring Blackstone accessories, a spot in the Blackstone cookbook, a virtual cooking session with a to-be-determined celebrity chef and now the golden spatula award (a spatula coated in 24K gold).

“My desire to continue to cook has been sparked again,” Sykora said. “This may lead to some other cooking ventures in the future and it shows me I do have what it takes to compete against some of the great chefs we have in this nation.”

With the golden spatula award in tow, Sykora said he plans to continue pursuing his passion of cooking in addition to continuing his career in insurance and raising a family.

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