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Monday, Oct 16, 2017
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Lakeland barbecue chef to compete on Food Network's 'Chopped'

A Lakeland native with some mad grill skills is about to mix it up with some of the nation's top grill masters. Chad Ward, owner of Whiskey Bent BBQ in Lakeland, is taking his culinary skills from his backyard grill to the national stage on the Food Network's "Chopped Grill Masters." Ward is one of 16 chefs vying for $50,000 in the five-part western-themed grilling competition, which was shot on an Arizona ranch over two weeks in March. He is appearing in the fourth episode, which will air Sunday at 9 p.m. "So I received a call from the Food Network which I was kind of very shocked to get," Ward said. "And it was pretty flattering. I mean, they had over 1,000 people apply, and for them to call and ask me to apply I was pretty shocked.
"But there were 16 of us, and we had a great time." Ward's secret to perfectly grilled steaks: Four 32-ounce bone-in ribeyes, "reverse seared." They're grilled at first over an indirect heat for 14 minutes a side, then a minute a side on the fire. "It allows the meat to kind of warm up naturally and allows those muscle fibers to be nice and smooth," Ward said. "And it just turns out a great, nice juicy steak." Also appearing is St. Petersburg barbecue chef Ray "Dr. BBQ" Lampe, who beat three other competitors to advance to the Aug. 19 finale.

News Channel 8 reporter Jennifer Leigh contributed to this report.

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