If you ask Granbury’s Homer Robertson what’s cookin’ you’d better pull up a chair because it’s liable to take awhile to explain.
Robertson not only is an award-winning chuck wagon cook, he also finds time to mix in television appearances with celebrity chefs when he’s not working as a full-time firefighter with the Fort Worth Fire Department.
The 53-year-old Granbury native – who won national titles in Lubbock in 2010 and 2011 – won his latest world title Oct. 12-13 at Ruidoso Downs Race Track in New Mexico. It was the World Championship Chuck Wagon Competition during the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium. Robertson said he won the overall crown by dominating in the meat and desert category while taking second in beans and fifth in bread.
Prizes are awarded in each category. Robertson said he won cash, along with two belt buckles.
“I have been competing probably 18 years, and I’ve won most of the major chuck wagon cook- offs in the United States,” said Robertson, whose great-aunt Nellie Robertson of Hood County was the first female county attorney in Texas history. “My mother (Jean Robertson) is an awesome cook, and I learned a lot watching her. We cook in the fire station. There are a lot of good cooks in the fire department.”
His son, Ty, a Granbury High School student, helps his dad – especially on weekends.
“He’s a pretty good cook in his own right,” Robertson said of Ty, who is in FFA and won a food science food technology proficiency award last year in Dallas.
Robertson, who said he has won 25 to 30 major titles, has been a Fort Worth firefighter for 28 years and is a captain. He was fire chief of the Granbury Volunteer Fire Department from 1995 until 2000. He’s a lifetime member of the GVFD, he said.
“There have been Robertsons in the Granbury Fire Department since 1907,” Robertson said, referring to the first year the city had an organized unit.
A REAL ‘FOODIE’
This weekend Robertson will be competing in the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering in the Fort Worth Stockyards. Robertson is seeking his fifth title in the Red Steagall event.
Robertson isn’t ashamed to call himself a “foodie” after several appearances on TV’s The Food Network with celebrity chefs. He has been seen with Bobby Flay on “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” and on “The Chew” with Carla Hall.
He said he particularly loves the outdoor aspect of chuck wagon cooking and competition.
“I like all kinds of food,” Robertson said, noting the camaraderie involved among chefs.
He said most chuck wagon cooks use Dutch ovens, but they also cook beans in a pot and use a skillet for chicken fried steaks.
Robertson said that Charles Goodnight originated the chuck wagon style of cooking during cattle drives in the 1800s.
He said that in addition to the food categories (beef, bread, desert, beans and potatoes), the judges also take into consideration the authenticity of the chuck wagon itself – to look “as it did in the 1880s.” The two scores count equally in the judging, he added.
“You have got some people that can really cook,” Robertson said. “It has to be visually attractive. You taste it with your eyes first. It has to have several layers of seasoning. It’s got to have balanced flavor.”
Robertson said some of the top events attract as many as 40 chuck wagons.
“When you compete against better people, you have to perform at higher levels,” Robertson said.