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Waking Up to Cowboys, Tacos, Biscuits and Coffee


The 38th annual Cowboy Breakfast is already known as the largest free breakfast in the world. But the organizers, under the sponsorship of Jordan Ford, wanted something more this year.

Shoveling the coals

Shoveling the coals

They wanted the event with the most tacos served at one time.

So, the booth volunteers were working overtime Friday morning to get tacos into the hands of the tens of thousands who showed up despite temperatures in the 30s before the sun rose. (Rain, sleet and who knows what all else Mother Nature dishes up won’t keep people from the Cowboy Breakfast, so you can bet a frigid little breeze was no problem.)

According to organizers, the following was going to be served:

–34,000 Mission Foods tortillas

–10,000 Kiolbassa sausage and eggs tacos

–6,000 Kiolbassa chorizo and egg tacos

–2,500 servings of Pioneer Biscuits and Gravy

–8,000 Pioneer biscuits and Kiolbassa Sausage

–10,000 Rudy’s BBQ beef tacos

–10,000 Delicious tamales

–8,000 Mrs. Bairds sweet rolls

–5,000 pints of Oak Farms milk and juice

–15,000 cups of McDonald’s special roast coffee

Also on the menu were plenty of smiles, despite the workload, and an extra dose of goodwill.

The Cowboy Breakfast is also the unofficial start of the rodeo season in San Antonio. The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo gets underway Feb. 11.

Spooning filling into tacos

Spooning filling into tacos

Waiting in line

Waiting in line

Serving up biscuits and gravy

Serving up biscuits and gravy

Warming the tortillas

Warming the tortillas

Who needs coffee?

Who needs coffee?

Prepping the sausage

Prepping the sausage

For many, it's a family outing

For many, it’s a family outing

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Scenes from the Cowboy Breakfast


Crowds fill the parking lot of the Cowboys Dancehall.

Crowds fill the parking lot of the Cowboys Dancehall.

The 37th Cowboy Breakfast drew tens of thousands of people out on a cool but clear Friday morning. The annual event, promoted as the world’s largest cooked breakfast, is always a draw, even when it rains, but in the right weather, the crowd can be fierce. And so, by 5:30 a.m., lines waiting for a free taco or biscuits stretched all the way across the parking lot of the Cowboys Dancehall.

Keeping the coal fires burning so the cooking can continue.

Keeping the coal fires burning so the cooking can continue.

By the end of the event, organizers were planning on having served:

  • 12,000 Kiolbassa Chorizo and egg tacos
  • 10,000 Pruski’s sausage and egg tacos
  • 10,000 Rudy’s BBQ beef tacos
  • 8,000 Pioneer Biscuits and Kiolbassa Sausage
  • 8,000 bacon and egg tacos
  • 5,000 potato and egg tacos
  • 5,000 Kiolbassa Sausage wraps
  • 5,000 pastries from Flowers Baking Company/Buttercrust
  • 5,000 pints Oak Farms milk and orange juice
  • 2,500 servings of Pioneer Biscuits and gravy

No one knows how any cups of coffee McDonald’s would be served or how many Mission Tortillas would be used.

It takes a team to wrap the sausages.

It takes a team to wrap the sausages.

The event is sponsored by Jordan Ford, which provided the vans that transported people from the parking lot at the nearby Rialto movie theater to the breakfast site.

On Thursday, the Cowboy Breakfast showed its appreciation for wounded warriors, their families and support staff by delivering tacos and biscuits and gravy to the Warrior Family Support Center at Brooke Army Medical Center.

How did all this get started? A press release on the event offered a little history: “Paying homage to the trail riders of the Old West, the Cowboy Breakfast began in 1979 with a handful of cooks and grills in the parking lot of Central Park Mall, its home for 23 years, as the sendoff for trail riders beginning the annual trek to the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.”

 

That cooler full of taco filling will empty quickly.

That cooler full of taco filling will empty quickly.

A hot cup of coffee and a taco are worth the wait.

A hot cup of coffee is worth the wait.

The action behind the scenes is non-stop.

The action behind the scenes is non-stop.

Warm tacos and a friendly smile to start the day.

Warm tacos and a friendly smiles a great way to start the day.

It's never too early to ride a mechanical bull.

It’s never too early to ride a mechanical bull.

Waiting for the rest of the day to begin.

Waiting for the rest of the day to begin.

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Upcoming: Asian Festival, Ruth’s Chris Barge Dining, More


Asian Festival 2014Asian Festival at ITC a showcase of cultures

The Institute of Texan Cultures is partnering with the San Antonio Food Bank during their 27th annual Asian Festival on Saturday, Feb. 1.

The festival takes place at the Institute from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Please bring your nonperishable food items to donate at the door. Also look for the special cooking demonstration by a San Antonio Food Bank chef. For more information, please visit their website.

Food Bank Presents Sort-A-Thon on Super Bowl Weekend

Calling all volunteers! The Food Bank’s annual Sort-A-Thon will take place the Friday and Saturday of Super Bowl weekend. Volunteers are needed for three-hour shifts to sort food donations. Shifts are available on Friday (Jan. 31) and Saturday (Feb. 1) from 9 a.m. – noon; 1-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m.  Space is limited and reservations are required. Email volunteer@safoodbank.org to reserve your shift.

Texas Hill Country Wineries logo

Texas Hill Country Named One of 10-best Worldwide Wine Destinations

The Texas Hill Country Wineries was selected one of the “10 Best Wine Travel Destinations for 2014” by Wine Enthusiast magazine in their January issue.  The non-profit association boasts 38 wineries located in Central Texas.

Each year, the magazine narrows from the hundreds of global wine regions they visit to just 10 for this annual ‘best of’ list.  Included among the selected wine regions, Texas Hill Country is one of only three regions from the United States.  Alexis Korman, senior associate editor for Wine Enthusiast Media, visited the Texas Hill Country in fall of 2013, identifying all six wineries she toured in the article.

“Visitors may flock to Texas Hill Country to sip wine,” says Korman, “but they end up drinking in the romance of the Old West, too.”

“It is an honor to be included in the list of prominent wine regions from around the world,” says January Wiese, executive director of Texas Hill Country Wineries.

Bending Branch1Texas is the No. 5 wine-producing state in the United States with the Texas Hill Country AVA being the second largest in the nation.  Spanish and Italian varietals grow well in the Hill Country including tempranillo, viognier, sangiovese and tannat.  The six wineries mentioned in the article were: Lewis Wines, Flat Creek Estate, Perissos Vineyards and Winery, Pedernales Cellars, Bending Branch Winery and Driftwood Estate Winery.

For additional information on Texas Hill Country Wineries and member wineries, please visit www.TexasWineTrail.com.

Ruth’s Chris River Walk offering Sizzling River Barge Dining
Ruth’s Chris on the River Walk will be offering a River Barge Dining Package, and is available for Lunch or Dinner beginning Jan. 28.

Board the barge at Ruth’s Chris patio and have a leisurely 30 minute glide along the Riverwalk with wine, beer or margaritas and hors d’oeuvres. Then, disembark at Ruth’s Chris Patio to finish off the evening with some of the restaurant’s famous dinner items.

Ruth's Chris's Filet Mignon

Ruth’s Chris’s Filet Mignon

The River Barge menu is $125 per person and includes two glasses of house wine, beer or house margarita. A maximum of 16 guests can be accommodated on the barge, and complimentary valet parking is provided

The menu includes a choice of appetizers, and drinks on the barge. Then, dinner on the patio offers a choice of salads, entree, side dishes and a choice of desserts.  Contact Information & Reservations: Rose Taylor, sales manager at 210.227.8847 or you may visit  www.ruthschrissa.com and click on reservations — River Barge Dining.

 

 

Cowboy Breakfast kicks off the SA Stock Show & Rodeo

It’s coming right up this Friday, Jan. 24. The 36th annual Cowboy’s Breakfast is from 4:30-8:30 a.m. at the Cowboys Dancehall parking lot, 3030 N.E. Loop 410. It is sponsored by Jordon Ford.

This year,  to help reduce the lines when serving  upwards of 50,000 early-rising fans, the world’s largest free breakfast has been streamlined to speed up service. Display booths that previously were near the cooking tent will be moved to the west side of the parking lot to help relieve confusion and congestion at the serving lines.

Plus, instead of just one serving line for hot coffee, two more will be added — one near the Cowboys Dancehall sign and another on the west side of the parking lot.

“We really appreciate so many people showing up so early in the morning to celebrate the unofficial kickoff to the (San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo) and help raise funds for St. Philip’s College’s Culinary Arts Program so we’re doing what we can to reduce the time they have to wait,” said Bill Massey, chairman of the board of the Cowboy Breakfast Foundation.

A souvenir of Cowboy Breakfasts past.
A souvenir of Cowboy Breakfasts past.

The foundation presented a $15,000 check in July that provided 17 scholarships for the Culinary Arts Program, one of only 25 in the world rated exemplary by the American Culinary Foundation. Emcee of the event will be Jackie Van De Walle, chairman emeritus of the Alamo Colleges Foundation.

There will be live music throughout the morning with Mario Flores & The Soda Creek Band.  Flores ended 2013 on a high note with the single “Let Your Lonesome End With Me” at No. 2 on the Texas Regional Radio Report’s last tracking in mid-December.

Also, at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, the Cowboy Breakfast will deliver tacos and biscuits and gravy to the Warrior Family Support Center for wounded warriors, their families and support staff to show its support and appreciation.

Free shuttle buses will run continuously to and from the Cowboy Breakfast from the parking lot of the Santikos Realto Theater, 2938 N.E. Loop 410. Parking also will be available onsite at Cowboys Dancehall, but the lot overflows early.

With the help of more than 300 volunteers and dozens of sponsors, the Cowboy Breakfast Sponsored by Jordan Ford, the unofficial kickoff of the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, serves a variety of free tacos, taquitas, Pioneer Flour Mills biscuits and gravy, Kiolbassa sausage and barbecue, all washed down with thousands of gallons of McDonald’s coffee. See more information here.

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Balmy Breezes Greet 35th Annual Cowboy Breakfast


It takes plenty of effort and attention to cook up taco fillings.

It takes plenty of effort and attention to cook up taco fillings.

You never know what the weather is going to be like for the Cowboy Breakfast. Three years ago, for example, an icy rain slopped down on those darting about the parking lot of the Cowboys Dance Hall.

Measuring eggs for large amounts of tacos.

Measuring eggs for large amounts of tacos.

But, rain or dry, you can guarantee that crowds will show up in the wee hours of the morning to enjoy free tacos, tamales, biscuits and gravy, and an eye-opening cup of coffee or two.

Friday morning’s weather for the 35th annual breakfast, which serves as an unofficial kickoff to stock show and rodeo season, was practically perfect. Temperatures in the low 60s kept things cool and crowds large. Even by 5 a.m., lines had formed for the shuttle buses to carry folks from the nearby Rialto Cinema parking lot to the dance hall at the corner of I-35 and Loop 410.

A souvenir of Cowboy Breakfasts past.

A souvenir of Cowboy Breakfasts past.

But people of all ages weren’t there just for the food. Some waited to get their picture taken with Ronald McDonald or inside an old time jail cell. Live country music filled the air, and Pioneer Flour Mills handed out samples.

Lining up was the order of the morning, no matter what you wanted: a shuttle ride, a photograph, a cup of coffee or a sausage wrap. The extras, though, helped break up any wait. Still, while people were fed quickly, a few lines managed to stretch more than halfway across the parking lot.

The extensive volunteer crews, some of whom worked overnight to prepare the event, helped keep things rolling. Some sliced bacon, others warmed tortillas. Stations were set up for people to stuff sausage patties into biscuits or stuff tortillas with barbecue beef, all in the name of feeding people something good in a quick and efficient manner.

Biscuits and gravy are always welcome.

Biscuits and gravy are always welcome.

Will Thornton of the culinary school at St. Philip’s College was on hand, as he has been for the past 16 years. He brought with him more than 40 volunteers from among the student body, chefs in training who wanted the chance to gain some experience cooking and serving people as quickly as they could.

He was surprised with the turnout, since school has only been in session for one week now. But he sent out an email asking for help, and people just showed up. A few late sleepers (if you could call 5 a.m. late) were supposed to join in as soon they could get there.

All help is welcome at the event, because the event could not run without them, the event’s board of directors has said regularly.

The Cowboy Breakfast’s website ran the following chart of what was expected to be served:

  • Dishing up chorizo and egg tacos.

    Dishing up chorizo and egg tacos.

    10,000 Johnsonville Bratwurst sausage wraps

  • 10,000 Kiolbassa sausage and eggs tacos
  • 6,000 Kiolbassa chorizo and egg tacos
  • 2,500 servings of Pioneer Biscuits and Gravy
  • 8,000 Pioneer Biscuits and Kiolbassa Sausage
  • 2,000 Beef Taquitos and 2000 Chicken Taquitos by Garcia Foods
  • 4,000 Garcia Foods Barbacoa Tacos
  • 10,000 Rudy’s BBQ beef tacos
  • 10,000 Delicious tamales
  • 8,000 Mrs. Baird’s sweet rolls
  • 5,000 pints of Oak Farms milk and orange juice
  • 15,000 cups of McDonald’s special roast coffee
Stuffing sausage wraps.

Stuffing sausage wraps.

 

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Calling All Cowboy Breakfast Volunteers!


Volunteers getting ready for the biggest free breakfast in the world, the annual Cowboy Breakfast.

Food and prizes — including a trip for two to Las Vegas and a guitar autographed by a number of country music stars — will highlight the volunteer sign-up party for the 35th annual Cowboy Breakfast.

Sponsored by Jordan Ford, this party will be from 6-8 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 10) at Cowboys Dancehall.

The Cowboy Breakfast itself is coming up Jan. 25, and will require more than 300 volunteers. The breakfast goes from 4:30-9 a.m. at the parking lot of Cowboys Dancehall, 3030 N.E. Loop 410 at Interstate 35. The breakfast is recognized as the world’s largest free breakfast by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Those who come to the volunteer sign-up party will get a free meal, too. It will include brisket from Rudy’s Bar-B-Q, sausage donated by Kiolbassa and sides.
And prizes: The Vegas trip will cover air fare and lodging for two for two nights. A number of other door prizes will be up for grabs for people signing up to volunteer at the Cowboy Breakfast,
Those interested in volunteering who cannot attend the sign-up party may register here.
Up to 50,000 people attend the Cowboy Breakfast Sponsored by Jordan Ford, which raises money for scholarships for students in St. Philip’s College’s Culinary Arts Program.
The breakfast, the unofficial kickoff of the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, serves a variety of free tacos, taquitas, biscuits and gravy, sausage and barbecue, all washed down with thousands of gallons of McDonald’s coffee.
Mario Flores & The Soda Creek Band will provide music at the breakfast.
Photo by John Goodspeed

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Thousands Throng to Cowboy Breakfast


It's time to make the tacos at the annual Cowboy Breakfast.

The Cowboy Breakfast is here. Can rodeo be far behind?

Dishing up biscuits and gravy during the Cowboy Breakfast.

That was on the minds of some this morning, as the 34th annual Cowboy Breakfast got underway at Cowboys Dancehall on Loop 410 near Perrin Beitel Road. Others were talking about how the unseasonably warm weather (a mere 45 degrees at 5 a.m. and no precipitation in sight) had brought them out early to avoid the massive crowds that were expected.

But no matter what time you arrived at the breakfast, there were always long lines for tacos, sausage and biscuits, biscuits and gravy, coffee and milk. Yet the lines moved quickly, so you could get a bit of whatever you wanted, from Johnsonville Brats to sausage and egg tacos, in a matter of minutes.

The lines move quickly despite their length.

The cooks stationed under the large white tents at the east end of the parking lot kept things at a brisk pace as they scrambled eggs with chorizo, sliced biscuits or heated tortillas.

Groups from St. Philip’s College’s culinary school, McDonald’s, Pioneer, Oak Hills and Jordan Ford, among others, formed assembly lines, so dishes were prepared with such haste that people could feed themselves and head back for more — all for free.

Steam rises from a heaping helping of taco fillings.

Will Thornton of St. Philip’s said his crew of chefs in training, about 32 in all, arrived at 2 a.m. Other volunteers have been known to be there all night, to make sure everything runs smoothly.

This year’s event was different from many in recent years at Cowboys because the weather cooperated. No sleet or icy rain, no Arctic blasts of wind driving people to shelter or huddling up as they waited for shuttle buses that moved between Cowboys and the neighboring Rialto cinema parking lot. Instead, the temperatures added to the magnetic pull of the event, which always draws people of all ages.

A number of country music acts filled two stages and provided a break for those who wanted to get in a dance in between tacos.

This year’s event was dedicated to the memory of honorary life chairman Herb Carroll, who died last year.

A hot cup of coffee is welcome at any time.

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World’s Largest Cooked Breakfast Dishes up (Early) on Friday


When you’re serving breakfast for, oh, 50,000 people or so, you gotta get up early. In fact, we figure that the cooks aren’t going to sleep much at all before serving breakfast starting at 4:30 a.m.

Officials with the 34th annual Cowboy Breakfast, sponsored by Jordan Ford, promise not only a free, hot meal, but also some lively entertainment for early-rising fans of the world’s largest free breakfast. It will be served from 4:30-9 a.m. Friday, in the parking lot of Cowboys Dance Hall, 3030 N.E. Loop 410, at the southwest corner of the intersection with Interstate 35 North.

This year’s event is dedicated to the memory of Herb Carroll, honorary life chairman who died last year. The event, recognized in 2001 as the World’s Largest Cooked Breakfast by the Guinness Book of Records, routinely feeds between 30,000-50,000 people, depending on the weather.

“We are looking forward to coming back to Cowboys Dance Hall for the third year in a row. It’s a great place for a free taco and live music at 5 in the morning,” said Chuck Cristian, board chairman of the Cowboy Breakfast Foundation.

The Cowboy Breakfast also is the unofficial kick-off for the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. There will be live music on two stages with J.R. Castillo & Unwound, Mario Flores & The Soda Creek Band and Paul Sanchez & Wrangler Country.

At 8:30 a.m. Friday, the Cowboy Breakfast will deliver 2,000 tacos, 500 biscuits and gravy and 160 dozen tamales to the Warrior Family Support Center for wounded warriors, their families and support staff to show its support and appreciation.

The center also will receive 100 movie tickets from Santikos Theaters, 50 tickets to San Antonio Rose Live and several cases of frozen biscuits from Pioneer Flour Mills.

Jordan Ford, the name sponsor of the Cowboy Breakfast, will provide vans and volunteers for the delivery.

With the help of more than 300 volunteers and dozens of sponsors, the breakfast serves a variety of free tacos, taquitos, biscuits and gravy, sausage and barbecue, all to be washed down with thousands of gallons of McDonald’s coffee.

Free shuttle buses will run continuously to and from the Cowboy Breakfast from the parking lot of the Santikos Realto Theater, 2938 N.E. Loop 410. Parking also will be available onsite at Cowboys Dance Hall, but the lot overflows early.

Website: www.thecowboybreakfast.com

 

 

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Volunteer for Cowboy Breakfast — and Earn a Chance to Win a Vegas Trip


Food and prizes — including two round-trip tickets with accommodations to Las Vegas — will highlight the volunteer sign-up party for the 33rd annual Cowboy Breakfast. The event, sponsored by Jordan Ford, is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 13, at Cowboys Dance Hall, 3030 N.E. Loop 410 at Interstate 35

Other prizes for volunteers will include weekend stays at the Courtyard San Antonio North/Stone Oak at Legacy and Residence Inn San Antonio North/Stone Oak; 50 tickets for San Antonio Rose Live; 10 pairs of tickets to Tracy Lawrence’s concert Jan. 21 at Cowboys Dance Hall; a pair of tickets to the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo; a pair of Spurs tickets; and a cowboy hat from Herb’s Hat Shop.

More than 300 volunteers are needed for the world’s largest cooked free breakfast, which will be from 4:30-9 a.m. Jan. 28 at the parking lot of Cowboys Dance Hall.

Extra volunteers will be needed for a special delivery of more than 3,000 tacos  to wounded servicemen and servicewomen undergoing treatment and their caregivers at Brooke Army Medical Center on Jan. 27.

Those interested in volunteering who cannot attend the sign-up party may register at www.thecowboybreakfast.com.

Up to 50,000 people attend the Cowboy Breakfast Sponsored by Jordan Ford, which  raises money for scholarships for students in St. Philip’s College’s Culinary Arts Program.

The breakfast, the unofficial kickoff of the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, serves a variety of free tacos, taquitas, biscuits and gravy, sausage and barbecue, all washed down with thousands of gallons of McDonald’s coffee and Nestlé’s Hot Cocoa.

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Heavy Rains Can’t Hold Back the Drive for a Free Breakfast


Thanks to the rain, lines were not long.

Thanks to the rain, lines were not long.

The annual Cowboy Breakfast, the unofficial start of the San Antonio rodeo season, arrived Friday in the midst of a heavy rain. Temperatures were in the low 40s, and an icy wind sliced through the air. But none of that stopped thousands of San Antonians from showing up for some free food, coffee and a chance to party.

Space under the tents and overhangs was at a premium for much of the morning, which started at 4:30 a.m. Workers had to show up at least an hour earlier than that.

The desire to stay dry meant that while there were plenty of people on hand, few were willing to stand in line for any one food item. So, you could walk up and grab a pair of Delicious Tamales or a Johnsonville Brat, even the Pioneer Mills’ biscuits and gravy without having to wait.

Space heaters provided some warmth.

Space heaters provided some warmth.

That pleased more than a few, who would dart from their dry spots to grab a snack or a cup of McDonald’s coffee and race again for cover.

After the Cowboy Breakfasts I’ve attended in the past, I never thought I would envy the food workers. But watching them under their dry tents, near the warmth of the charcoal, made me rethink that. It just might be a good idea to volunteer next year.

Many grabbed a bite, then headed for cover.

Many grabbed a bite, then headed for cover.

The only thing in short supply was adequate trash receptacles, forcing people to stack their trash high on the few counters in the parking lot.

Time to cook the sausage.

Time to cook the sausage.

Rain can't stop a party in San Antonio.

Rain can't stop a party in San Antonio.

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The World’s Largest Free Breakfast Friday


Friday marks the annual return of the Cowboy Breakfast, an unofficial start of the rodeo season in San Antonio.

This year, the free breakfast runs from 4:30 to 9 a.m. at Cowboys Dancehall, 3030 N.E. Loop 410 near the Perrin Beitel exit. This is the latest location for the event, which has been held at places such as the Rim off I-10 and at Northstar Mall in the past.

The event, listed in the Guinness World Records as the largest free breakfast in the world, is sponsored each year by the Cowboy Breakfast Foundation, which raises scholarship funds distributed within the community.

Free coffee and breakfast are offered while numerous bands play in the background, helping warm up the usually chilly morning. (KENS 5 predicts the weather will be “cold, windy and wet” with showers likely and a low of about 38 degrees.)

The menu generally includes breakfast tacos, biscuits and gravy, tamales and more. But it’s San Antonio’s willingness to party at any hour of the day that makes the event so much fun.

See you there, rain or, well, not shine.

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