“Vegas Baby Vegas”…..My 3 favorite words, well maybe thats not true because I also like to hear “Time to Eat!” but nontheless I friggen love Sin City. The city of excess. Excess is good – have you ever heard of too much fun…too much football…too much basketball…too much food…too many exicting things to see and do…too much booze…..I’ll stop there because there is such a thing as too much booze for me ecspecially the older I get. When I first heard about this contest I knew that it would be good if in true Vegas fashion they did it right by overdoing it with excess and Smoke on the Water Productions did not disappoint. There was excess talent…It was a who’s who in the world of competitive BBQ I really enjoyed seeing and competing against the TOP teams in America, I think there were even teams from Canada and Puerto Rico as well. The talent was as deep as the Jack and the Royal Invitational. Their was excess food and drinks – we had vouchers for free drinks and buffets for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, a VIP party at Hooters casino we also got an additional 10 feet of space in each of our spots. The inflationary world of Vegas prices the price for ice was also excessive they wanted 20 bucks for a 20 pound bag or you could just take some trashbags and fill them from your ice machine on your floor which is what I proudly did in redneck fashion. The prize money was also excessive the largest purse of any BBQ contest this year $125,000. There was about$1,250 to be given out per team – that is a ratio any competitive BBQ cook can appreciate. Another reason I love vegas so much besides the over the top excess is that it has sentimental value to me as I have had many a good time there including getting married. I was married at the Palazzo to my beautiful bride over 3 years ago…actually we got married at the little white chapel….but had a cermony at the palazzo for our friends and family…One of the things I will always remember about my wedding was that I was limited to a wheelchair as I ruptured my achilles tendon 4 days before my wedding. We had to potspone the surgery as the show must go on…and it did in true Vegas fashion – I certainly rocked and rolled that weekend.[album id=1 template=extend]
Hooters hosted a VIP party for the cooks and judges on Friday night, quite frankly the party was more bark than bite – I enjoy Hooters wings and was really looking forward to eating a few hundred of them but they had been sitting out for a while and were very soggy and disappointing, I ended up eating 2 and saving my appetitite for the dinner buffet at the Orleans. The hooters party also lacked hot hooters girls walking around, I had 2 beers and left, In fact after talking with folks the next day I cant think of anyone who said they had a good time there. Considering I had everything I needed at the Orleans I had no reason to leave the resort. Prior to this weekend I had never stayed at the Orleans and for whatever reason I had a rather negative impression of the hotel. I dont know why that is maybe beacause it is off the strip – I dont know. I was way off – The Orelans exceeded every expectation I had, the rooms were nice the hotel was clean and had a cool new orelans/mardi gras theme. The pool was awesome…so were the mai tais and black cherry lemonades. I really enjoyed my time there and am really hoping they continue this contest at the same casino. There was plenty of room in the parking lot…how much room they have for expansion is up in the air, If they use the neighboring parking lot, I think they could comfortably fit 250 teams. Ronnie did announce that he will be making a BIG announcement in the next 2-3 months about next years BBQ championship, I can only hope that they keep it in Vegas and add an even bigger purse which is what I picked up from his not so subtle teaser.
I enjoyed getting to know some of the RMBBQA teams better and meeting new cooks from all over the country I cooked next to Ryan from Backdraft, Roger and Rod from R&R out of Salt Lake City, I also cooked next to The Arizona kid out of Phoenix whose restaurant was featured on Diners, Drive ins and Dives and finally I had the reigning Florida BBQ association champ Big Poppas Country Kitchen also next to me – Big Poppa had a Monster day taking 2nd in Chicken and 1st in Ribs – He is one passionate BBQ cook and I really enjoyed my time next to him. Other than my chicken I was pretty diasppointed with my results. Scores in the same category were all over the place from 3 9’s and an 8 to a 5 and a 6 which are kisses of death even after they throw out the low score. I just have to take my beatin’ and get back out for the next comp which I am already excited for, Canyon City can’t come quick enough. Congrats to Munchin Hogs at the Hilton from Kansas City who got through the deep and talented field unscathed for the $25,000 GC and to Brazen BBQ from San Deigo who can proudly bring back a $15,000 check and trophy back to San Diego. Congrats to all those who got a call and I am anxiously awaiting the announcement for next years Smoke on the Water’s USA BBQ Championship.