This past weekend was my first contest of the year. It has been 8 months since my last contest in Parker CO. I did 4 contests last year improving my overall in each contest. In the off season I set some ambitious targets for the team. I had completely taken for granted how much work goes into a contest and got an opportunity this weekend to kick off some rust. I was definitely disappointed in this weeks results, however appreciate the skill it takes to compete at a high level. I think I began taking it for granted, It seemed like I have never built a turn in box at times on Saturday at any rate I am excited to get the first event of the year behind me, I had a hard time sleeping in the week leading up to the event – the excitement and anticipation leading up to the contest was reminiscent of the same excitement I had as a kid waiting for Christmas and a visit from Santa Claus. So without further adieu here is how the weekend went for GQue:
I got into Loveland around noon. The winds were really blowing hard and the forecast was calling for snow and rain with a overnight low of 26. I was preparing for the worst, they put me on the far end, I set up shop using my U-hual to block the wind from hitting my smoker and worked out of my trailer the entire weekend. I liked this set up as it was quick to establish and easy to break down once my turn ins are complete, I will most likely use the same set-up next weekend in North Platte.
One of my favorite things about the contests is talking to all the other cooks that are equally as passionate about BBQ as I am, I find that its not so much BBQ as it is food in general that they enjoy, this lends itself to some amazingly delicious food to be shared at the Friday Potluck dinner usually hosted by a cook team, Backdraft was hosting but because of the high winds we had it in the judges tent. You wont find any of this food at any fine dining restaurant but man does it taste good. This weekend some of the notables that stuck out to me was the fried catfish(unknown), Cheesy Grits(kilted pig), creamed corn(unknown),Green Chile (backdraft), sloppy joes(2 lil macs)
After dinner the sun set and the wind was still going. It would not have been to bad if the wind was not blowing but it made for a very cold and uncomfortable night, I did’nt care though as I had been looking forward to this event for 8 months and some wind and freezing temps was not going interfere with my cook and enjoyment. I really enjoyed getting back into competition BBQ, I have developed some new techniques and one of them requires a baster, naturally I forgot to bring mine as it was not on my checklist from last year as it is a new gadget I use. I needed about an hour of free time so that I could jog down to walmart about 3/4 of a mile down the street and jog back. It was about midnight and was the first time I had that much free time, I was telling Ryan of 2 Lil macs about my plan for a midnight jog and he said “dude I can take you in my truck” I was totally caught off guard and was overwhelmed with his generosity of time. It is funny to point out that 2 guys dressed in layers of clothing stroll in to Walmart around 1 am on a Friday night and only get a baster. Insert your joke here….The overall generosity of the BBQ community is impressive and Ryan is a perfect example. I also want to acknowledge Chris Poland for hanging out a lot and helping me through out the weekend as well. He also gave me one of his home made brews and a jar of Jalapenos I cant wait to try.
Saturday morning came and to the delight of everyone it was sunny with light to medium gusts of wind, no rain or snow as the cooks expected and prepared for. As far as my turn ins go I tried a new chicken flavor profile as last year I was getting 5-10 and wanted to try something different to see if I could crack the top 5. I was happy with it and I got 7th which is a familiar spot for me but it did not get me over the 5th spot hump. For Ribs I was also trying a new flavor profile to crack the top 5 even though my old one was a 5-10, I undercooked the ribs and got 17th. I may try the same new flavor for this week and I intend on cooking the ribs right this time. My pork I used a new flavor profile as well, it was the one my guests last week liked the best, Pork has been a thorn in my side and is my least consistent entry, I really thought I had this nailed, it was cooked perfect the flavor I thought was good – I was expecting a top 5 so when I got 3rd to last I was disappointed and at a lost, I really don’t know whats next to try here. I will figure something out and will be excited to turn it in next week and see how it does. My brisket flats were tiny and was worried that it would hurt me, it didn’t and I took a 10th in brisket, I am happy with that as I did not think my brisket was as good as it could have been. Overall the pork entry killed me and kept me out of the top 10, all things considered, I had an absolute ball seeing old friends and making new ones and got to shake off the rust as I was shaky building boxes. I am really looking forward to North Platte this weekend and seeing how I do and if I can improve on this weeks performance.
Congrats to The Smoking Hills out of Kansas City that took home the GC and Pellet Envy also out of Kansas City that took home the RGC. I guess those KC guys know what there doing, eh? Also congrats to the top 7 that advance on to Las Vegas to compete in the second round of the Sams club series.