Goldsboro man takes top honors in national grilling contest

Eric Bates sears name into history books

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ORLANDO, Fla. – A Goldsboro man took top honors in the championship round of LongHorn Steakhouse’s grilling competition, the Steak Master Series. After months of grill-offs, the seven top Grill Masters in the country went head-to-head – but only Eric Bates seared his name in history as this year’s Steak Master Series Champion.

“It was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had,” Bates said. “I’ve been smiling for hours, and I got very emotional. This has been one of the best days of my life.”

Officially crowned LongHorn’s Steak Master Champion, Bates took home the $10,000 grand prize and was dubbed the company’s “Top Grill Master in the Country.” Local to the Goldsboro LongHorn, Bates has been part of the LongHorn team for more than seven years and says the Steak Master Series opened his eyes to the opportunities ahead of him with LongHorn Steakhouse.

He aspires to be a culinary lead for new restaurant openings, and eventually, a manager with the restaurant brand, according to a release from LongHorn Steakhouse. “His top grilling tip? ‘Trust the process, and trust yourself.’”

Other finalists honored in the contest were, second-place finisher Fidelmar “Fidi” Rodriguez of Athens, Georgia; Kim Markley of East Wichita, Kansas in third; and Brandon Magyor of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Oscar Hernandez of Greendale, Wisconsin and Nicolas Marcum of New Braunfels, Texas, tying for fourth place.

This marks the fourth year of the Steak Master Series, an annual event that puts LongHorn’s quality standards to the test and recognizes its Grill Masters for their level of skill and dedication to quality. The competition kicked off in February, where thousands of Grill Masters from LongHorn’s family of more than 510 restaurants participated in a series of rounds that put their skills at the grill to the ultimate test. Throughout the competition, more than $200,000 was awarded to winners at the restaurant, regional and divisional level.

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