Tuesday, October 20, 2009

(Way more than)
One Minute Monday
(One Day Late)

It's always good to end the year on a high note. At the same time, it kind of stinks too.

See, we have generally cooked so bad at the Royal (or I should say that we SCORED so bad), that we needed another contest to end the year on. October gets pretty late to find a good competition, but there are still ample opportunities around KC. A few years back we did a little unsanctioned one day bar contest and for the past three years we have cooked The Fountains Blaze Off in Independence, two weeks after The Royal.

Our scores at the American Royal have been so horrendous, that we needed a confidence boost so we didn't have to spend the next 4 or 5 months with a 350th place finish hanging over our heads. Even though we actually pulled out a respectable finish this year at the world's largest BBQ contest (16th place), we decided to cook one more contest anyway and we ended up finishing with a reserve grand at The Fountains.

The only problem is that winning (or just doing well) makes me want to keep cooking as much, or maybe more than performing poorly. When we don't do well, it's like I need to prove to myself that we can win. And when we do do well, it's kind of the same feeling - only we need to prove that we can win again and achieve that feeling of...um...triumph? Not sure what the word is, but you know what I mean.

So I guess we're done with 2009...maybe.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Fountains Blaze Off and Senior Q

Chris and I competed in what most likely may be our last BBQ contest of 2009. The Fountains Blaze Off and Senior Q is a really nice event held at the senior living community in Independence, MO - just about 30 minutes from home base.

This is the 3rd year of the KCBS contest held at the facility, and it's our 3rd time competing there as well. We were fortunate enough to come out of the weekend with a reserve grand championship. That finish was a big surprise to both Chris and I as we weren't exactly blown away by anything we turned in on Saturday.

An even bigger surprise might have been our 1st place score in chicken. We were struggling to get our chicken right that morning, and I guess we did better than we thought. Funny thing is our neighbor at the contest, Todd from Ployboys BBQ, said his chicken didn't come out the way he had planned either and he ended up with a 2nd place bird. Todd also ended up winning the contest, putting the hurt on the rest of the field by a 15 point spread (that's a lot).

We flew solo for this event - no family on Friday or Saturday until Chris' wife Jenny came just in time for the awards along with his two daughters, Emily and Baby Megan. I shouldn't say we were completely on our own - we did have my chocolate lab, Sue Dog with us. This is the first time Sue has stayed at a contest with me since May 2006. Interestingly enough, that was also our first grand championship. I guess she is good luck!

Here are a few pictures from the contest. I hope to have some more up on the picture page of our site in the next few days.

(photos below courtesy of Todd Johns - Pork Pullin' Plowboys)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Busy or Lazy?

I'm not sure if I'm really busy...or just a little lazy. I had some ideas for a few posts to make this week and I haven't gotten around to them. I spent last week decompressing from the Royal along with work, normal chores and starting a Halloween costume project for the Boy. This week it's more of the same...only I have been ramping up for one more contest.

Chris and I will be reporting for duty to cook The Fountain Blaze Off in Independence, MO Friday. I have been slowly but surely knocking off items from the "to do" list in preperation for the weekend, but stuff just keeps getting in the way preventing me from getting it all done. Tonight it was my soon-to-be brother-in-law's car dying on I-35. I had to go meet up with him and tow his Neon back home. Not a big deal...just another thing to do.

Hopefully we'll be ready for the contest. I am looking forward to the potlock on Friday night organized by Steph from TheSlabs.com. It's all soup. That will be a nice treat for a cold weekend.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The American Royal

I can’t really write much about the American Royal that hasn’t been written before. It’s was big. It was loud. There was a lot of action and a lot of people. Beyond that, I can’t really explain it. You really pretty much have to see it yourself to get a feel for what the Royal is.

I think Chris and I may have been the last team to arrive to the contest and I am nearly certain that we were the last of the invitational teams to check in. When we called for meat inspection around 4:15 on Friday afternoon, we were told that all inspections were complete. Really?

We didn’t do a party this year and that was nice. It was good to not have to worry about bringing extra stuff to feed everyone. Instead, we just had my wife, little boy and my sister and soon-to-be brother-in-law along with Chris and I. Chris’ wife was not feeling well so she stayed at home all weekend along with the kids. We spent time at a few other team parties and that was quite enjoyable. Friday night we ate and visited with the Pork Me Purple gang and Saturday enjoyed a fine meal from the Ribs 4 U boys (what a great steak!)

As for our results in the contests, they were mixed.

In the Invitational there were 119 teams competing from all corners of the country. In our opinion, this is the most prestigious event to compete in and win in competitive BBQ. You had to have won a Grand Championship in the past 12 months, and they take champions from all sanctioning bodies. The best competition in BBQ is at this contest. Our lone award in this one came in the pork category where we placed 15th. We checked in at 31st overall.

We expected to do a little better, but there was nothing left to do but concentrate on the Open the next day.

The Open contest saw 473 teams. I thought it would be hard to top the food we cooked the day before, but we did. I had a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach that got worse as each box was completed and turned in, with each category coming out better than the last. So as we sat through the Open awards, not receiving a call, we were both feeling a little down. I might even say we were borderline disgusted as we fruitlessly waited to hear our name called.

Adding to the frustration, this is our 5th year of cooking in the Royal, and we have yet win anything in the Open. In fact we have gotten progressively worse each year we have competed there.

We were just about ready to get up and head back to our site to finish cleaning up when the top 20 overall teams were announced. What a relief to hear our name called in 16th place. Turns out we just missed calls in brisket (24th place) and pork (27th).

So while the monkey might not be completely off our back as we have yet to get an Open call, we do now have a nice overall finish to hang our hat on.

Monday, October 5, 2009

One Minute Monday

I plan on having a more in depth recap of the American Royal in the next few days. But until then, I just wanted to get a quick post up here. Chris and I finished 16th in the open out of 473 teams. That’s far better and feels much nicer than our 353rd place finish last year! We received no category calls in the open, so when we heard our name in the list for the overall finish at 16, we were pleasantly surprised. The invitational contest was OK for us. We received one call, squeaking in at 15th in pork and finishing 31st overall. All in all, we had a really nice weekend. Pics and more on the weekend coming soon.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


We are in the middle of preparing for the biggest contest of the year – The American Royal. When I say big, I mean it too. They will probably end up with around 500 teams, tens of thousands of people on the grounds and one of the most prestigious contest titles if you do win.

Whenever we are getting ready for a contest, we go through the checklist of what we need as we prepare. I also go through the other list in my head…you know the one, the list of things that we don’t actually need to compete, but we like to have anyway. I don’t record them on my checklist sheet, but I gotta have them anyway.

That got me thinking…let’s ask some other big time cooks what are the few things they bring to a contest they couldn’t live with out. Here are the answers we got from three very good cooks.

Mike Wozniak - Quau
I would never go to a contest without all of my contest meat, with the chicken and ribs already trimmed. I would worry that what I find on the road may not be up to snuff. I also make sure I have my garnish. Again, I've seen it where stores close to a cookoff are sold out. Finally, my BBQ notebook. I have my time schedules written down and anything I change from week to week to see if it is a plus or minus.

Steve Ferrin – I Smell Smoke
Various good luck charms (lucky wood, Indian Medicine Bag)
Second, my GPS. I don't think I can get around the block without it now! Lastly, my Blackberry, for so many reasons I won't even go into it. How did I ever live without it ?

Mike Davis – Lotta Bull BBQ
Three things I couldn't leave for a contest without are my wife, the girls (Aggie and Gabby) and asking the good Lord for his Blessings for a safe trip.

Amen! Good luck at the Royal, everyone! Stop by and see us in 738.