NEWINGTON - Cowboy cook and Food Network guest chef Kent Rollins spent the day at Stew Leonardâs Sunday.
Rollins and his wife, Shannon, who hail from Hollis, Oklahoma, shared their chuck wagon way of cooking with visitors to the store. It was the third of six stops on their tour of Stew Leonardâs stores in Connecticut and New York.
âHe comes every year and people look forward to it,â said Jacqueline Dubois, the storeâs event coordinator. âNot only customers, but staff as well.â
Rollins has visited the last four years and has built a strong relationship with the Stew Leonardâs family.
âWhen we first came, it was like we were walking into the Walt Disney of grocery stores,â Rollins remembered. âThey have more people come through here than people in the town we live in. You always find quality at Stewâs.â
Newington resident Sarah Viggiano recognized Rollins from his appearances on the Food Network channel.
âYou were on âChopped,â right? Can I take a picture with you?â she asked him.
âOf course, darlinâ,â he said with a smile and a tip of his hat.
In addition to âChopped: Grill Masters,â Rollins has appeared on Food Networkâs âCutthroat Kitchenâ and âThrowdown with Bobby Flay,â on which he beat the famous chef.
âI tell people, I go a lot of places, but I ainât going if Iâm not gonna have a good time,â he pointed out. âI have fun every day.â
Rollins said his favorite place to cook is outdoors, especially on large ranches out in the country. He and Shannon have taken their business, Red River Ranch Chuck Wagon Catering, on the road.
âI still cook for cowboys,â he explained. âIâm still a cowboy. Thatâs all Iâve ever been my entire life.â
Rollins was discovered by representatives from National Beef, a beef processor headquartered in Missouri. He is now sponsored by the company, along with Certified Angus Beef and Yeti.
He spent the day Sunday talking to visitors about beef and offering his tips on cooking it.
He seasoned the storeâs specialty filet mignon burgers with his Red River Ranch brand seasoning and grilled them inside, handing out samples.
âItâs made so it enhances the flavor but doesnât cover it up,â he told people. âI love a filet burger like this, but also one with a blend of brisket and chuck. You just have to start off with good beef. At least 20 percent fat.â
Resident Bob Conners said he was amazed by the flavor.
âYou canât buy any hamburgers with flavor like this,â he said.
Rollinsâ first cookbook, âA Taste of Cowboy,â received praise from some big names, including Chef Ted Allen. His second cookbook is due out later this year.
Today, Kent and Shannon Rollins will be at Stew Leonardâs in Farmingdale, N.Y.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.