Be Prepared. The Boy Scouts base everything they do on those two words. Hey, four million kerchief clad scouts can’t be wrong!
You don’t have to be a successful competition cooker to realize the importance of being prepared for a contest. This week we found three of the top cooks in the country and asked them about their precontest routines. Once again, we got some great, honest answers from some really good guys.
This week our contributors include the chief cooks of three of the top KCBS teams competing today and all have competed for Team of the Year championships:
Mike Wozniak – Quau - Brimfield, IL
Joe Amore – Smokey Mountain Smokers – Seveirville, TN
Kelly Wertz – 4 Legs Up – Great Bend, KS
Mike: Sunday is a relaxation day. By Monday or Tuesday we are looking for meat for next week’s contest. This can mean a trip to several stores. By Wednesday or Thursday I trim up chicken and ribs and make up any sauces or injections that we might be low on. I don't want to do to much prep work at a contest, mainly just cooking. I don't do a lot of trimming on pork or brisket, so I leave them in the cryovac until we get there.
Joe: My routine runs like this: I return home on Saturday night late or by noon on Sunday. That is when my week starts for the upcoming weekend. I first start by washing my trailer and truck. My wife cleans up the living quarters in the trailer and I take care of the kitchen. It gets cleaned, stocked and ready to go for the next weekend. I pull my butts and briskets out of the freezer (yes I cook frozen butts and briskets). The next step is to make my injections and marinades and put them in the trailer. It’s about an 8 hour day to do all of the above. On Monday I empty my holding tanks, fill fresh water and clean my smokers. On Tuesday we prep parsley and take care of the yard work around the house. Wednesday we load the trailer with all the meat including the chicken and ribs and have everything ready to go for when we leave on Thursday morning. So, I would say I have about 18 to 20 hours in getting ready for the contest.
Kelly: Tuesday or Wednesday morning we head to store for a few basic supplies. By Wednesday afternoon, during a restaurant break, we prep parsley and get that put in trailer fridge. Then we make our brines and injections if needed and prep for extra categories or Friday night meals. Wednesday evening, between grilling steaks and restaurant work, I prep sauces and rubs and load trailer and complete our checklist. Thursday morning, I buy my chicken and Thursday night, it’s more work in the restaurant kitchen and I prep my contest meat and get that in trailer fridge. Friday morning, load ribs for restaurant, fuel up the pickup, give the checklist a final check, then help with restaurant lunch run before I head off to the contest. All totaled we probably spend around 4 hours prepping for contests - of course that is with a lot of restaurant work thrown in the middle of all that.