Marcelo Lopes, a culinary whiz at the LongHorn Steakhouse in South Portland, was recently named the regional winner of the company’s new Steak Master Series.

“The Steak Master Series was created to celebrate the restaurant’s commitment to grilling expertise, to challenge its culinary team members to continuously strive for excellence and to sharpen their skills, (while also providing) an opportunity to recognize team members in a unique way,” the company said in a press release.

Lopes, a Westbrook resident, has worked at the local LongHorn for the past six years and enjoys grilling a great steak both at the restaurant and at home. He’s been cooking since he was a teenager and his favorite dish on the LongHorn menu is the Outlaw Ribeye.

“We are thrilled that Marcelo was named the regional Steak Master Series winner,” said Paul Livrieri, executive vice president of operations at LongHorn Steakhouse. “This recognition is a true testament to his grilling expertise and to providing perfectly grilled steaks to our guests.”

LongHorn said that nearly 6,000 culinary team members across the country took part in the Steak Master Series, which took the form of both written and cooking tests.

All of the first-place regional winners, including Lopes, also had the opportunity to compete for a chance to become one of seven division finalists, who would then travel to LongHorn Steakhouse headquarters in Orlando to compete for the title of Steak Master Series Champion. Unfortunately, Lopes did not make the finals. He’s originally from Brazil and moved to southern Maine when he was 19. Lopes is engaged to be married and has a 1-year-old son, Julian. The family home also includes two black Labs.

This week Lopes spoke with Current Publishing about the Steak Master competition and grilling at home now that summer is upon us.

Q: What do you most enjoy about grilling and what are some of the things you’ve learned that people could also do at home?

A: What I enjoy most about grilling at the restaurant is knowing the guest who ordered it will have the opportunity to enjoy a delicious steak. I cook every meal at work as if I was cooking for my own family. I always like to tell people to use fresh, never-frozen meats like we do at LongHorn. For a delicious, flavorful steak, I suggest boldly seasoning the meat.

Q: What is so special about the Outlaw Ribeye?

A: The Outlaw Ribeye is my favorite to eat and to grill. The size, quality and flavor of this steak is amazing.

Q: Why did you want to compete in the Steak Master Series?

A: I wanted to compete because I’ve been with LongHorn Steakhouse for a long time and knew I had a chance to go far in the competition. It also gave me the opportunity to share my passion for what I do.

Q: What does it mean to you to be one of only 60 LongHorn Steak Masters?

A: It means a lot to me to be the regional champion. All my hard work paid off and I’m glad I was able to show my peers at the restaurant that they are all capable of achieving anything they put their minds to. It was a great experience for all of us. Through this, I want to show others that if you want something badly, you need to work hard for it. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in the Steak Master Series. It was great getting to know other team members from nearby restaurants and getting the opportunity to show restaurant brass what I get to do every day.

Q: Do you have a grilling or rub recipe you’d be willing to share?

A: At LongHorn Steakhouse we use a proprietary blend of seasonings, but you can accomplish something similar at home by combining kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper, granulated onion powder and granulated garlic powder. Some other great recipes can also be found online at ExpertGriller.com.

Marcelo Lopes, who works at the LongHorn Steakhouse in South Portland and who lives in Westbrook, has been named a Steak Master by the company.


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