Chef Nicole Gomes usually succeeds in every opportunity dished out to her.
First, she starred on Top Chef Canada.
Next, she won Top Chef Canada: All-Stars — and became the first female chef to win the Canadian version of the culinary competition.
Her kitchen hat trick was being named runner-up on Iron Chef Gauntlet.
She runs her own catering company, Nicole Gourmet, and opened a crispy-fried and rotisserie chicken take-out joint, Cluck ‘N’ Cleaver, which she’s planning on expanding in Calgary and in western Canada.
This year at Stampede, Nicole was presented with a new challenge — but it didn’t play out like the others.
Nicole laughs and shakes her head in disbelief when asked how it feels to fail big time in front of hundreds of fans at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
“You’re talking about the Meat Sweats Challenge, aren’t you?” she says, during a chat on one of the comfy leather couches at Stampede’s Big Four Roadhouse.
The Meat Sweats Challenge is new. If you can eat the 24-oz ($24) meat sandwich in less than 15 minutes, you get $25 in coupons to spend at Stampede, a towel that you can hoist over your head as a trophy, and your photo and name on the Meat Sweats Challenge wall of fame.
Nicole is not on the wall.
“I really thought I could do it. I’m competitive as hell, as everyone knows,” she says with a laugh.
“It’s insanely large. I swear mine was larger. I think they thought they were doing a nice thing by giving me more. Even the guy next to me was like, ‘Whoa! I think you got way more meat!'”
The Meat Sweats Challenge takes place in the Cookhouse, which is part of the Big Four Roadhouse, Stampede’s newest food and entertainment destination. The Cookhouse is presented by Food Network Canada. Just head to the Big Four building and go upstairs.
The Cookhouse features pulled pork, chicken and brisket sandwiches that you can top with two sauces designed by Nicole:
There’s also a barbecue platter for families to share.
Q107 Calgary’s Cam Sullivan also took part in the Meat Sweats Challenge earlier this week when contestants were given 30 minutes to complete it. The time limit was dropped to 15 minutes after it looked like everyone was going to finish it … everyone except Nicole and Cam.
The Big Four Roadhouse is open to everyone from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and those 18 and up after 6 p.m.
As well as the Cookhouse, the Roadhouse also features:
• Craft beers: Pair your Nicole “saucy” sandwich, with a local, domestic or international craft beer. There are currently 16 brewers featured;
• Games: Play arcade games, plexiglas curling, or life-sized Jenga, Connect 4, checkers, chess and crokinole. (Did you know the Big Four was once Canada’s largest indoor curling rink? It was used as a rink from 1959 until the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympic Games.)
• Live music: Dance your tushie off every night with live music. The Boom Booms play funk and soul Friday night, Choir! Choir! Choir! takes the stage Saturday night and the Dueling Piano Kings take your requests Sunday evening. Shows start at 9:30 p.m.
The Calgary Stampede runs until Sunday, July 15.
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