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Chef Tim Love-Hosted Rattlesnake-Cooking Competition Returns to Fort Worth Stockyards Sept. 26

guy with Rattlers mascot
Rattle Battle Cook Off during the first day of the Fort Worth Teams PBR. Photo by Andy Watson / Bull Stock Media




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FORT WORTH, Texas (July 9, 2024) – This September, one of the most unique food festivals in the nation will return to Mule Alley, as the reigning PBR (Professional Bull Riders) Teams Champion Ariat Texas Rattlers will again host Rattle Battle – a one-of-a-kind rattle snake cooking competition – curated and hosted by renowned Chef Tim Love.  The 2024 edition of Rattle Battle, presented by TX Whiskey and hosted by Chef Love, scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 26, will feature 16 accomplished celebrity chefs from the region competing head-to-head for the title of who can create the best rattlesnake dish as voted on by attendees and a panel of esteemed experts.

The Ariat Texas Rattlers are the Metroplex’s first-ever professional bull riding team. After making history in 2022 as the first team in league history to log a perfect game, they upped the ante in 2023, capping their torrid season by being crowned the 2023 PBR Teams Champion. They joined the MLB’s Texas Rangers in bringing a sporting world title back to Dallas-Fort Worth during 2023.

The 2024 Rattle Battle, which will begin at 5:00 p.m. CDT on Sept. 26, will be the VIP kick-off to the Texas Rattlers’ third annual PBR Camping World Team Series homestand.

Rattler Days will begin at Cowtown Coliseum on Thursday, September 26, before travelling to Dickies Arena as the event concludes on Friday, September 27 and Saturday, September 28. Competition begins nightly at 7:45 p.m. CDT.

“After such a successful inaugural year, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of nervous excitement about how we would top ourselves this year,” said Chef Love. “But inspiration struck swiftly: Bigger band, more cocktail bars, more chefs and even more fun. Rattle Battle is charging to be one of the most fun and anticipated events of the year, and I can’t wait to sample the innovative creations from our talented chefs!”

“Locals and visitors from around the world know that Fort Worth is a thriving culinary scene,” said Chad Blankenship, General Manager of the Ariat Texas Rattlers. “We’re thrilled to partner with acclaimed Chef Tim Love for the return of the Rattler Days Rattle Battle, presented by TX Whiskey — a chef showcase for the most outstanding rattlesnake dishes ever tasted.”

Chef Love is known for his signature urban Western cuisine, creating inspired and innovative dishes that have earned critical and popular acclaim. With restaurants spanning the nation, Love’s roots remain in Texas, where he is Chef and owner of beloved Texas restaurants Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Woodshed Smokehouse, Queenie’s Steakhouse, Gemelle, Atico, and Love Shack, as well as the storied White Elephant Saloon.

Widely known as a de facto ambassador for Texas, Love’s keen business acumen landed him a role as host of CNBC’s show “Restaurant Startup,” where he and co-host Joe Bastianich vie against each other to invest their own money in restaurant concepts they believe will make them millions.

During Rattle Battle, presented by TX Whiskey and hosted by Chef Tim Love, 16 chefs will compete for the title of Champion. The winning Chef will receive a $2,500 cash prize, a pair of Ariat Boots, an RTIC Cooler, special edition bottle of TX Whiskey and more.

Those in attendance will each receive an Ariat Texas Rattlers token to vote on their favorite dish throughout the event. The Top 3 fan-voted dishes will then advance to celebrity judging, with the panel of three, to-be-announced distinguished culinary experts determining the 2024 Rattle Battle Champion.

The inaugural Rattle Battle was won by Dickies Arena’s own Chef David Wetli. Wetli wowed those in attendance with his visionary rattlesnake ravioli dish. A recap of the 2023 Rattle Battle, can be seen here. Welti will return to competition for the 2024 Rattle Battle, presented by TX Whiskey and hosted by Chef Love, joined by 15 other renowned culinary experts.

The competing chefs include:

  • Juan Rodriguez (Magdalena’s): Inspired by his grandmother, Magdalena, who taught him how to cook in her kitchen in Monterrey, Mexico, Chef Juan Rodriguez founded Magdalena’s in 2014 alongside his wife Paige. Born in Chicago, Rodriguez grew up spending summers with Magdalena, learning how to select the best cuts of meat from the butcher’s shop, make tortillas by hand and prepare paella over an open flame. As an adult, Rodriguez followed his passion to Dallas, where he earned his associate’s degree in culinary arts from The Art Institute. He spent the next 15 years working at top restaurants around the country, eventually becoming Executive Chef at Reata. After more than eight years at Reata, Rodriguez decided to launch his own business, providing off-site catering for weddings, corporate events and other private events.
  • Kemel Rodriguez (Paloma Suerte): Chef Kemel Rodriguez began his career as a dishwasher, steadily rising and ultimately becoming an Executive Chef. Chef Rodriguez went on to open a Marriott and received a Charter Marriott Certificate for opening a hotel, as well as the opportunity to work at celebrity Chef Lorena Garcia’s restaurant. Rodriguez is currently the Executive Chef at Chef Love’s Paloma Suerte.
  • Rodrigo Cárdenas (Don Artemio): Rodrigo Cardenas has an engineering degree in Food Science and Technology from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. He studied Culinary Arts at the International Culinary Center School in New York City, where he worked in the Dinex Group owned by Michelin Star Chef Daniel Boulud. Chef Cardenas also worked at Nicos, one of the 50 best Latin American restaurants. Chef Cardenas has been working in Mexico at Don Artemio Saltillo for the past six years and Villa Ferré catering with high profile events.
  • Taylor McCreary (Tannahill’s Tavern): Chef Taylor McCreary got his start in the kitchen washing dishes at Stillwater Bay during his freshman year at Oklahoma State University. By the time he graduated with a degree in English Education he had moved up to become the restaurant’s assistant kitchen manager. He moved to Dallas to play music and cooked at the Dallas Country Club and Magnolia Hotel to help pay the bills. After four years of playing guitar and cooking it was time to choose one or the other, so he took his first head chef position at The Libertine Bar. From there he has spent time at The Porch on Henderson, Whiskey Cake, Braindead Brewing, and Ida Claire before settling in as Executive Chef at Lonesome Dove. Some of his proud accomplishments include cooking at Meat Fight four times and three chef demos at The State Fair of Texas.
  • Trevor “Big T” Sales (Brix Barbecue): In 2017, Trevor “Big T” Sales got his first smoker as a birthday gift from his parents after moving to Texas from the Chicago region and falling in love with real Texas Barbecue. He would stay up overnight to barbecue and stumble into work with samples for friends and colleagues. After a few months, and a bigger waistline, they convinced him he has what it takes to compete with the ‘big dogs’ in Texas Barbecue. Fast forward to early 2018, when Big T rescued a Boxer-Terrier mix, Brix, that had such an influence on his life, he rebranded and named his barbecue business after him. Big T is a transplant who has fused his love for food and smoking meat to perfection with Central Texas Style Barbecue. Most of the recipes are simple and let the meat shine. His love of food comes from his mother, Mama Sales, whose first two ingredients are always butter and love. Big T doesn’t use much butter on his barbecue, the sides are another story, but that first bite of brisket will unveil a great deal of love.

    Christian Lehrmann (Tinies, Side Saddle Saloon): A graduate of The Art Institutes, Chef Christian Lehrmann worked for nearly a decade for Raised Palate Restaurants, the Dallas restaurant group. He is now a partner of Neon Light District Hospitality – the team behind Taco Heads, Tinie’s Mexican Cuisine, and Side Saddle Saloon. Lehrmann has also put together the menus at The Porch and CBD Provisions in the Joule Hotel in Dallas.

  • Jon Bonnell (Bonnell’s, Waters, Buffalo Bros, Jon’s Grille): Born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, Chef Jon Bonnell grew up hunting, fishing and cooking with his parents and family. After graduating from Vanderbilt University in 1994, Bonnell taught science and math for two years before pursuing his love for cooking and enrolling in the New England Culinary Institute (NECI) in Montpelier, Vermont. During his tenure at NECI, Bonnell completed a six-month culinary internship at Mr. B’s Bistro in the historic New Orleans French Quarter. In 1997, Bonnell graduated from NECI and returned to Fort Worth where he honed his cooking skills at local, upscale restaurants. In his beloved hometown of Fort Worth, he opened his own signature restaurant, Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine in 2001. His namesake restaurant has won the “Award of Excellence” from Wine Spectator each year since 2004 and has been consistently rated among the top restaurants in the state by Zagat. His newest restaurant concept, Waters Restaurant, opened to rave reviews in March 2013. In addition to his two fine dining restaurants, Chef Bonnell owns and operates BUFFALO BROS, Pizza, Wings & Subs in the heart of the TCU campus and is the celebrity chef for TCU’s Amon G. Carter Stadium, where he oversees the menu for all home football games. In Chef Bonnell’s cuisine, Texas foods are transformed into fine cuisine that is enhanced with regional Creole, Southwestern and Mexican spices. His authentic recipes use his knowledge and understanding of food to dispel myths and surprise and delight fine diners.  Widely known for being one of the foremost experts in fine, flavorful wild game and for his dynamic, authentic personality, Chef Bonnell is an approachable guy-next-door who shares every recipe, technique or ingredient that is requested.
  • Stefon Rishel (Mohawk Consulting & Culinary Solutions): With a vibrant personality, a passion for food and family, and a colorful mohawk that changes hues more frequently than a chameleon, Chef Stefon Rishel has established a prominent presence in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Originally from Michigan, Richel relocated to Texas at a young age.  At 12, he ventured into the culinary world, starting his career at the esteemed family-operated Pappas Restaurants.  His culinary journey led him to become the executive chef at the former Brackets sports bar within Dallas’ Hotel Palomar.  Subsequently, Chef Rishel was tasked with curating an upscale Southern menu for the former SISU Uptown Resort near downtown Dallas.  His local acclaim peaked during his three-year tenure as the Executive Chef at MAX’s Wine and Dive.  Rishel launched the Fort Worth location of MAX’s and also introduced his own refined comfort dishes, earning the title of culinary champion in Fort Worth Magazine’s Top Chef competition in 2015, along with accolades such as “Best Comfort Food (2014),” “Best Use of Bacon (2014),” and “Best Brunch (2015).” In 2016, Rishel ventured to Houston to oversee menu development and culinary operations at 51fifteen Cuisine & Cocktails in Saks Fifth Avenue at the Galleria Mall.  Despite the restaurant’s success, Stefon’s time there was short-lived due to his longing for his wife and newborn daughter and the collaborative culinary environment he cherished in Fort Worth.  Upon his return, Rishel served as the Executive Chef for Texas Bleu Steakhouse before embarking on his dream to establish upscale yet affordable dining establishments across the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Starting with Wishbone & Flynt, he crafted and managed four concepts including Berry Street Ice House, Parker County Ice House, and Tre Mogli Cucina Italiana. In early 2024, Chef Rishel decided to step back from managing his founding restaurant menus and operations to spend more time with his wife and three young children, while pursuing his personal culinary passions.  He and his wife Bri have since launched Mohawk Consulting & Culinary Solutions, a place where defined, refined, and creative culinary experiences can be enjoyed with others over food, in the cozy setting of your choice.
  • David Wetli (Dickies Arena): David Wetli is a well-seasoned culinary professional with a passion for crafting exceptionally delicious food. With more than two decades of experience in the culinary industry, Chef Wetli has established himself as a leader in his field, renowned for his creativity, dedication to quality and commitment to the diners. Throughout his career, Chef Wetli has held various culinary leadership roles, where he has demonstrated his ability to innovate and elevate culinary offerings to new heights. His culinary philosophy of, “Respecting the food” revolves around using the finest, freshest ingredients to create dishes that transport the eater to another place and time. As an Executive Chef, Wetli has a proven track record of leading culinary teams to success. He takes great pride in mentoring aspiring chefs, sharing his knowledge and expertise to help them grow and succeed in the industry. Chef Wetli’s culinary creations have garnered praise from diners, critics, and judges alike, earning accolades and recognition across the nation. His dedication to culinary excellence has earned him a reputation as a true leader in the industry. Outside of the kitchen, Chef Wetli enjoys exploring new culinary trends, and spending time with his family. He remains committed to creativity and inspiring others to share in his love of food. With his extensive experience, unwavering dedication to food, and relentless pursuit of excellence, Chef David Wetli is truly a culinary visionary, shaping future culinarians one dish at a time.
  • Grant Morgan (Hotel Drover and 97 West Kitchen & Bar at Fort Worth Stockyards): Leading the culinary team at Hotel Drover, an Autograph Collection hotel, is Executive Concept Chef Grant Morgan, who brings nearly two decades of culinary expertise to Fort Worth’s rustic-luxe hotel. He oversees all food and beverage menu creation for the 200-room resort including 97 West Kitchen & Bar at the Fort Worth Stockyards, The Lobby Bar, The Backyard at Hotel Drover, The Courtyard at 97 West, as well as special events and meetings throughout the historic district. In his role, Chef Morgan is tasked with crafting the overall menu concept, along with planning, organizing, and sourcing ingredients through local purveyors for dish development. He brings an Americana and Texas-infused vision to the hotel’s eateries with elevated dishes inspired by the regional tastes found throughout the state of Texas, from chicken-fried oysters and New York strip chicken-fried steak to slow-smoked BBQ pork ribs, brisket tacos, and bacon & egg potato gnocchi. Prior to joining Hotel Drover, Chef Morgan led the culinary sector at Velvet Taco and also held multi-faceted positions throughout his tenures at some of hospitality’s biggest names, including Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa, Le Cirque at Bellagio Las Vegas, Dragonfly at Hotel ZaZa and The Ranch at Las Colinas. One of his most memorable moments was being nominated by the James Beard Foundation to prepare a dinner as a guest chef at the renowned James Beard House in New York City. Inspired by the legacy of the drovers, Chef Morgan’s objective is to craft an authentic and unparalleled dining experience for guests through an open decorative show kitchen, next level private dining, and interactive Chef’s tables. Taking the spirit of the resort directly to the table, he has crafted an unconventional menu of elevated Texas cuisine — sourcing only the finest ingredients from local purveyors, including HeartBrand Beef, Rosewood Wagyu, Round Rock Honey, Texas Ranch Olive Oil, and more. Chef Morgan’s culinary flare offers guests carefully selected, high-end ingredients where consistency is key and plans to butcher all meat in-house while also utilizing an onsite smoker and dry aging cooler.  His deeply rooted culinary passion extends beyond the kitchen, as he’s participated in various local charitable events, including North Texas Food Bank fundraisers, and the Boys and Girls Club of Dallas.
  • Jeffery Thompson (Heim BBQ): Jeffrey Thompson, Culinary Director and Smokehouse Pitmaster at Heim BBQ & Catering, has been a driving force in ensuring the highest standards of productivity, recipe accuracy, and quality control across all four restaurants and catering operations. His culinary creations are not just meals, but delightful feasts for both the eyes and the palate. His unwavering commitment to quality and guest satisfaction is a testament to his culinary expertise, instilling confidence in his ability to deliver exceptional dining experiences.  Chef Thompson started cooking very young and loved it from the very beginning. His culinary journey is a testament to his versatility and adaptability. He started at Luby’s Cafeteria, where he quickly rose to the position of Kitchen Manager before he was 18 years old. He then ventured into different cuisines, working for Palio’s Cafe, Pappadeaux’s Seafood Kitchen, and Chubby’s Burgers, each offering a unique culinary experience. Chef Thompson’s journey continued into fine dining and catering with Mira Vista Country Club, where he served as a Chef for many years, further expanding his culinary repertoire.  Thompson started with Heim BBQ & Catering as kitchen help and moved up through all positions in the back of the house. Then, he took on Smokehouse training to become a pitmaster and worked his way up into management, where he sits today.
  • Patrick Ru (Teddy Wong’s): In the heart of New York City, where culinary traditions thrive, there was a chef who redefined the way foodies experience dim sum.  Restauranteur and Chef, Patrick Ru, created a unique eatery that has taken the art of dim sum to new heights.  With a vision for sharing his culinary perfection, he then unveiled two brand-new dining establishments, named Bushi Bushi in Dallas, Texas.  Now Chef Ru and his partners are expanding with two additional locations called Teddy Wong’s and Bushi Bushi Market in Fort Worth, Texas.  One of the standout dishes at his forward-thinking dim sum restaurants is the Har Gow.  These delicate, translucent dumplings are generously filled with sweet, succulent shrimp, making them a heavenly treat for seafood enthusiasts.  The precision and care put into crafting these dumplings are evident in every bite, as the flavors burst forth in a symphony of taste. Born in Hong Kong, Chef Ru is known for his innovative creations, while mastering fan favorites like the pan-fried pork dumplings, an absolute must-try.  Of course, no visit to a dim sum restaurant would be complete without trying the legendary crab and pork dumplings, known as xiao long bao. Chef Ru’s dim sum restaurants stand out as a beacon of culinary delight.  His newest creation is his award-winning duck served with caviar in a beautiful jewelry box paired with the perfect selection of fine wines.
  • Antonio Votta (Bricks & Horses): Chef Antonio Votta, Executive Chef for Bowie House, Auberge Resorts Collection, developed his passion for cuisine in his formative years, graduating from the prestigious hospitality school at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Chef Votta honed his craft working under acclaimed culinary visionaries in San Francisco and training with Michelin star groups, such as M.B. Post, and the MINA Group. He has dedicated years to developing recipes through ever-evolving menus, sourcing only the finest ingredients from each region. Today, Chef Votta is carving his niche in Fort Worth’s thriving culinary scene. He is establishing his heritage in Texas by creating a menu that honors the bounty of the land and local purveyors across the entire Lone Star State. Using artful creativity and his entrepreneurial spirit, Chef Votta’s method to this new epicurean institution is both refined and imaginative.
  • Luke Gretchen (Woodshed Smokehouse): Hailing from Burnet, Texas. Luke Gretchen studied at both Texas State University and Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. Influenced by the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Bourdain and Grant Achatz, Chef Gretchen also takes inspiration from his travels and the meals he’s had with his family, including his two sons, and friends. Looking ahead, Chef Gretchen is keen to launch a modern, casual, family restaurant and catering company.
  • John Holloman (Lonesome Dove): John Holloman has more than fifteen years of experience in the restaurant industry. He has worked and excelled in all concepts ranging from fine dining to upscale casual to three-meal restaurants. He has a strong and passionate desire for great food coupled with great guest experience. He is always looking for ways to excel in the restaurant industry and push both food and guest satisfaction to the next level. He is currently the Executive Chef at Lonesome Dove Western Bistro.
  • Zach Lewis (Atico): Chef Zach Lewis studied at Le Cordon Bleu. Chef Lewis was a Sous Chef at River Ranch Stockyards and Del Frisco Grille. He is now the Chef of Atico, a popular tapa bar on top of the Springhill Suites in the Stockyards.

Rattle Battle, presented by TX Whiskey and hosted by Chef Love, will begin at 5:00 p.m. CDT. Final judging will begin at 6:15 pm. CDT, followed by the reveal of the Champion at 6:30 p.m. CDT and the conclusion of the culinary extravaganza at 7:00 p.m. CDT.

In addition to the rattlesnake cuisine, open bars will be stationed throughout Mule Allery for attendees to patronize.

Tickets for the 2024 Rattle Battle, presented by TX Whiskey and hosted by Chef Love, are on-sale now. Priced at $150 they can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com or in Mule Alley on event day.

The bull riding action for the 2024 PBR Camping World Team Series’ Rattlers Days at Cowtown Coliseum begins at 7:45 p.m. CDT on Thursday, September 26. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased AXS.com and PBR.com, the Cowtown Coliseum Box Office, or by calling PBR customer service at 1-800-732-1727.

The event continues inside Dickies Arena at 7:45 p.m. CDT on Friday, September 27, and Saturday, September 28. Tickets for PBR Rattler Days at Dickies Arena are also on sale now, and can be purchased online at Ticketmaster.com and PBR.com, at the Dickies Arena Box Office, or by calling PBR customer service at 1-800-732-1727.

Three-day ticket packages for PBR Rattler Days at Cowtown Coliseum Dickies Arena are available, offering fans a 15% discount on select price levels.

For more information about the Texas Rattlers, visit https://pbr.com/teams/rattlers/, Texas Rattlers on Facebook, or @TexasRattlers_ on Instagram and Twitter.

About the Ariat Texas Rattlers:
Under the leadership of General Manager, Chad Blankenship, the Ariat Texas Rattlers are coached by PBR co-founder Cody Lambert, and owned by the Fisher Family and Leonard Firestone. In 2023, the Rattlers etched their name in the history books, crowned the 2023 PBR Teams Champions. The Ariat Texas Rattlers team, based in Fort Worth, will host its third Rattler Days homestand event September 26-28, 2023 at Cowtown Coliseum and Dickies Arena.

Fisher Family investments include footwear and apparel, real estate, timberland and forest products, and education and sports, including ownership of the Oakland Athletics (MLB) and San Jose Earthquakes (MLS). Through its Ariat brand, the Official Boot of PBR, the Fisher family have been longtime supporters of PBR. The family is actively involved with a number of philanthropic causes, including SFMOMA, The KIPP Foundation, and UCSF. Leonard Firestone is a Fort Worth entrepreneur and civic leader. He was a co-founder of the Firestone & Robertson Distilling Company, which is the producer of the highly regarded TX Whiskey and TX Bourbon brands. A former Fort Worth City Councilman, Firestone currently serves on the Board of Managers for the John Peter Smith (JPS) Health Network serving the healthcare needs of Tarrant County.

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