DENVER -- The nation's eating habits change regularly, but what remains constant is beef's ability to provide both nourishment and enjoyment for America's families. This year, the 27th National Beef Cook-Off urges family chefs to send in their original beef recipes that provide a great eating experience while supplying fuel for their family's active lifestyle.

Family chefs are encouraged to enter their original beef recipes by March 31, 2007, for the chance to win the "Best of Beef" $50,000 grand prize. The 2007 Cook-Off, which will be held Sept. 11-13 in Chicago, is presented by the Beef Checkoff Program.

Twenty-five national finalists, including five parent/child teams, will compete for nine cash prizes totaling $110,000. In addition to one 'Best of Beef' grand prize winner, four category winners and four runner-up winners will be chosen by a panel of judges.

The National Beef Cook-Off, the country's premier amateur beef-cooking contest, is focusing on a 'Seize Life' theme which is the essence of the role that beef plays in an active lifestyle. This year's Cook-Off will demonstrate how beef satisfies consumers' appetites, enabling them to enjoy the food they're eating and also feel good about the choices they've made.

Underscoring the industry's commitment to innovative beef dishes, the Cook-Off is introducing four new categories: New Dynamic Beef Dishes, Nuevo Latino Beef Recipes, Kids in the Kitchen, and 'Small Plates, Big Taste' Grilled for Everyday Entertaining.

Funded by The Beef Checkoff, the Cook-Off arrives as Americans' love of beef continues to grow. "Beef is the perfect way to enjoy your food and feel good about it," says Sherry Hill, Cook-Off Project Manager for the American National CattleWomen, Inc., which coordinates the Cook-Off. "In the American diet, beef is the No. 1 contributor of protein, zinc and vitamin B12, number two of vitamin B6, and number three of iron and niacin.

"The Cook-Off celebrates best practices with family chefs eager to share the recipes that have become an essential part of their families' eating experience," she said. "This year, our Kids in the Kitchen category encourages parents to teach children responsible, yet enjoyable, eating at an early age."

The Cook-Off also encourages entrants to share a recipe that incorporates their favorite way to prepare beef matching the cooking method to the fresh beef cut to ensure success -- whether it's using a stovetop skillet, broiler or a grill.

A complete version of the Cook-Off rules is available at the Cook-Off's official Web site, Contestants can enter their beef recipes through the Web site or send via postal mail to: National Beef Cook-Off Entries, ANCW, P.O. Box 3881, Englewood, CO 80155.

The entry deadline is March 31, 2007. Entrants must be at least 18 years of age by March 31, 2007, and a legal United States resident residing in one of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia by Jan. 1, 2007.

You are eligible to enter as a team for the "Kids in the Kitchen" category if you are the parent or legal guardian of a child between the ages of 8-12 and you are over 18 years of age and your child is between the ages of 8-12 as of March 31, 2007 and a legal United States resident residing in one of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia by Jan. 1, 2007.

The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.

Since 1952, the American National CattleWomen Inc., a non-profit volunteer organization, has used its grassroots volunteer spirit to educate consumers about the versatile and nutritious quality of beef.

SOURCE: American National CattleWomen Inc. via PR Newswire.