Thursday, April 9, 2009

Prilosec OTC BBQ Shootout

We are finally back from a long and rewarding weekend at the Texas Motor Speedway in Dallas/Fort Worth. We’ve actually been back for several days, but work, sleep and family all needed some extra attention before I could get to an update…but now that I am somewhat caught up, it’s time to fill in the blanks.

As I mentioned late last week, Rod Gray of Pellet Envy asked us to compete for him at this event. Rod is one of the country’s top competition BBQ cooks and also teaches an equally successful cooking class with competition BBQ legend Johnny Trigg. Rod and Johnny’s latest class fell on the weekend of this invitation-only event and prevented them both from attending, so they had to round up a few stand-ins to compete under their banners.

Chris and I were both surprised and honored when Rod made the call asking us if we would be willing to travel to Texas for him. We had been planning on cooking that weekend anyway, but had not yet registered for an event, so it was really an easy decision. We just had a few loose ends to tie up and then we were good to go.

The Prilosec OTC BBQ Shootout is a new series of competitions taking place at NASCAR tracks on race weekends across the country. The events offer a unique experience for race fans to get a little taste of competition BBQ when they visit the track. All of the cooking teams were invited to participate by the event organizers, a combination of marketing folks from Prilosec and SMI Properties, the operators of the speedways involved in the events.

The venue offered a few challenges for some of the teams, especially those who chose to vend their product. Some teams were placed in an area with much higher foot traffic, closer to the judging tables. Most others were a pretty decent hike away from the action. A lot of the concerns of the teams were addressed and resolved in the cook’s meeting, including transportation to turn-in. But the less-than-desirable location offered smaller crowds and the vendors suffered.

In all, 13 teams were part of the competition - and they included some of the best in the country. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little intimidated, but we stayed focused and on track and executed our game plan just like we wanted to.

I was most happy with our chicken. It has been struggle for us for a long time now, but I think we are getting closer to a recipe that can help us win. Placing 4th there was a thrill. Chris and I were both happy with our ribs (5th place) and pork (1st place), but there was still room for improvement. Our brisket was good, but Chris and I disagreed on which one of the two we cooked to turn in. In the end we settled on my choice, and we didn’t score with it, so it has been bugging me all week me that we should have went with the other one. Ugh.

Even though our turn-ins began at 11am on Saturday, our awards were not announced until Sunday at 10:30am. A portion of the awards were shown on the Speed channel’s pre-race program Sunday morning. We were not featured on the show, but I hear they are going to play other portions of the awards later on. I don’t have Speed, so if anyone sees anything, let us know!

With the awards happening about 22 hours after the last turn-in, that left a lot of time to just hang out and shoot the breeze (and share a couple of drinks). We got passes into the track and caught the last half of the Nationwide race, after finally getting our area cleaned up. We made our way back after the race, and spent the rest of the night hanging out. We had a great time getting to know a lot of the cooks and teams that we had only briefly met or read about over the years. We opted to stay close to our cook area, while some of the other guys ventured into the infield where a lot of wild parties were going down. Their stories kept us laughing for the next day.

I have lots of pictures posted from the weekend at Dodge County

In all it was a great weekend for us. I can’t thank Rod enough for the opportunity to compete in this event and we certainly wish him the best as he travels and competes in the remaining three BBQ Shootout contests.

Next up for Dodge County is the Blues, Brews & Bar-B-Q contest in Lansing, KS. We won this one last year, so hopefully we can go back and do well there again.

Contest results (overall):
Grand Champion - Twin Oak Smokin' Crew
Reserve Grand Champion - Pellet Envy (Dodge County)
3. Cool Smoke
4. Checkered Pig
5. Lost Gonzo
6. Texas Rib Rangers
7. Lotta Bull BBQ
8. Smokin' Triggers (Jamie Geer)
9. Backstreet Blues
10. It Ain't Prime
11. Jack's Down Home BBQ
12. Wood Chicks
13. Texas Thunder

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Next Stop: Texas Motor Speedway

Tomorrow Chris and I will be hitting the road for Fort Worth, TX to compete in a unique BBQ contest being held at the Texas Motor Speedway.

This weekend the first contest in the Prilosec OTC BBQ Shootout Series will take place during race weekend in Texas. Saturday the speedway will play host to the O'Reilly 300 Nationwide Series race and on Sunday, the Sprint Cup Samsung 500.

We'll cook in a small, invitation only event that will feature just a dozen or so teams. Our slot in the contest actually comes courtesy of Rod Gray's Pellet Envy team. Rod will be schooling future BBQ champions in his "Old School vs. High Tech" competion BBQ course this weekend in Shannon, IL, so he offered his spot in this event to us. We'll cook under the Pellet Envy banner for this event and Rod will continue to compete in the remaining series stops through out the rest of the summer.

We are really looking forward to competing in this event. I will try to make some updates as the weekend progresses (if I can find a wi-fi connection at the track). In the mean time, here is the website for the series:

Note: rumor has it that the awards for the contest will be featured on the Speed channel's pre-race show, Sunday morning at 10:30.