London KY 2014, pt. 2

Ok so where was I?

That’s right the ambulance transported the gentleman to the hospital.

So after they load up, I head back to the motorhome and apologize for the sudden departure and get my turn in boxes.

My son tells my maybe we’ll get some good karma from helping him out. I said to him that’s not why we did it, but if we get some I’m not turning it down.

I am now a bit behind and rushing to get caught up, the cook’s meeting was at 7 pm with dinner immediately following.

During the cook’s meeting, I get informed by the EMS crew that the patient was left at the hospital with a pulse and speaking. This made the hair on my arms stand straight up and win or lose made the comp worth it.

The dinner that we had was probably one of the best so far. We sat down with a plateful of food and dessert. If you went back hungry it was your own fault.

That night we got the fire going and things went pretty smooth. The rain was nowhere to be found on RADAR and the temp was perfect. I had purchased a new thermometer to help monitor the temps while inside and it proved to be valuable. Around 4:30 in the morning I hit my snooze on my phone. At 4:45 the thermometer signaled that the temp had dropped. That got my butt out of bed. So I through a couple more logs on and back to sleep I went.

Once the ribs were ready to go on, the rain had started and the temperatures started to fall. With that so did the ease of running the cooker. I had to finally put a couple extra logs in to bring the temp up, unfortunately it brought it up too much.

300* is where is sat at. This is not where I want to cook at, some teams do, but it hurts my timeline and I have to make adjustments on the fly.

Needless to say the ribs started to overcook and the chicken cooked fast also. So I had to pull each of them early and hold them in the Cambro. I gambled on whether to put the ribs back in to set the sauce and potentially make them too tender or serve them up with a wetter sauce and preserve the tenderness. I opted for the first choice.

Come time for turn ins we had mixed thoughts.

I thought chicken was our best chance at getting a call. Tenderness seemed right on and plenty of flavor.

Ribs I gambled and lost. I struggled to find a slab that I could slice a knife through without pull all of the meat off of the bone. Luckily I found enough to turn in a box. Flavor was good but overdone.

Pork wasn’t to my liking at all. Not sure what happened with it. I actually threw away the leftover because I couldn’t stomach it.

Brisket was ok. I thought the tenderness was good and the flavor was nice. Not one of my better ones by far.

So after it was over we struggled to find the energy/motivation to pack everything up and get ready for the awards. Somehow during the process of unhooking the hose I managed to cut my thumb. Who seriously gets hurt disconnecting the hose? I guess it wouldn’t have been a comp without me getting injured.

As we packed up we listened and watched as teams fought to get out of their spots. It had pretty much rained for 9 hours straight and there was standing water everywhere around us. I didn’t even want to think about how I was going to get out.

As anyone should know, low and slow is the way to go. That includes driving in the mud. I made slow and steady forward progress, at least until I hit the gravel. The road had just enough of a lip to stop me in my tracks and in the mud. I manage to back up about 6 inches and give it a tad more gas. After spinning for a little bit my tires finally gripped some gravel and we found “dry” ground.

We walk into the awards area and find a spot at the top of the bleachers. I figured we’d be nice and let all the teams that were going to get calls have the close seats. As we sit there my son asks “Dad can I go up and get the trophy if we get one?” (sound familiar?).

Little did he know that was the plan all along, IF we can get a call.

I think I forgot to mention that about half the teams there, so approximately +/- 21 teams, are championship teams.

We both agreed that chicken was probably our best chance at a call.

As the winners were announced the final team in chicken was called and it wasn’t us. That was a bit of a let down. My hopes of giving my son a chance to enjoy walking up in front of all these awesome teams and get an award have dwindled.

Ribs was the next category to get called, there was no way we had a shot at this. We knew our tenderness was blown and to make a mistake in this field of competitors was like stumbling while running from a lion. You were done. Gilly’s BBQ went up to claim his 6th place award and as I was congratulating him I hear “3rd place ribs goes to 82’s BBQ Crew”. I may have over cheered a bit, but man that felt good to hear that.

My son walked with a proud stride and a smile on his face. With both of us in shock we gave each other a fist bump.

We didn’t get any other calls, but what we did get was all we needed. If you believe in a higher power, whatever that may be, then you understand what probably happened. If you have questioned the existence of a higher power, then you may now have proof of it. If you don’t believe in it, then I am just one helluva lucky guys that found himself at the perfect time & under a nearly perfect scenario.

Either way because of whatever you believe that was the best comp to date.

Before I finish let me just add a few interesting facts:

I hate changing my plans/itinerary at the last minute, but talked myself into getting a tire fixed before I left. Which could lead you to believe that I avoided a blowout.

I, for the first time ever, asked to be placed next to a team (Gilly’s BBQ). I was initially told it wasn’t possible but then told they could put me across from him. This put me next door to the spot where the guy collapsed.

I was at my spot when he collapsed and not wandering around looking for a meat inspector or socializing.

Everyone did what people should do when someone stops breathing. Yell for help, call 911 and do high quality CPR.

Please if you haven’t already take a CPR class. If you are a business or organization, buy an AED and put it in a highly visible spot.

OK with that said here is how we did out of 42 teams:

Chicken 19th with a new high score of 167.4172

Ribs 3rd with a new high score of 174.8688 (we lost a tiebreaker)

Pork 20th with a score of 165.6800

Brisket 27th with a score of 159.4172

Overall 15th with a new high score of 667.3832



London KY 2014, pt. 1

This is probably gonna be a long one, so before you start you might want to get something to drink, go to the bathroom and let the dog outside. It’s OK I wont start without you.







Ok you ready?

When I started competing in BBQ in 2011 I set goals for our team. This was to give us something realistic to work for and to avoid wasting money for no reason. Examples of such were not finishing dead last, have fun and hopefully better our cook. This year’s first comp was no exception.

Before I start let me go back to our first year of competing. We went to a non-sanctioned competition in Godfrey, IL. It was a comp with plenty of heat, humidity and Cicadas. Ask my son what he thinks of Cicadas, his response probably isn’t very flattering.

This was a less than stellar cook. I had a huge grease fire and the chicken was absorbing heavy white smoke. That is definitely not what you want. As we were turning in our food nothing made me happen, I didn’t even taste the chicken because I knew it was bad.

At the awards ceremony my son was off playing. It was just my wife, my daughter and myself. While sitting there, my daughter asks me “Dad can I go up and get the trophy if we get one?”.

I think sure why not, what are my chances, slim at best? Low and behold we got 3rd in chicken and as promised she was allowed to make the walk to the front to get our ribbon and check.

Now fast forward to this past weekend. It was just going to be me and my son this time. My wife was sick and my daughter didn’t feel like going.

I was pretty excited that this was going to be a father/son weekend. I don’t get to spend as much time as I would like because I work 2 full-time jobs as a paramedic. I had set pretty high expectations about wanting to do really good at this competition. I had been playing around with the new flavor profile this winter and have been feeling pretty optimistic about doing good. To add to the stress I wanted to place in the top 5 so my son could get the opportunity to walk to the stage to get a trophy.

My weekend started with getting off work on time and fully rested. That hasn’t happened in a long time and was really worried that I would be trying to make the trip tired and late.

On my way home I remembered I had a slow leak in a tire and something told me to get it fixed before we head out. My initial plan was to just fill it up before we go and then if needed before we headed back, but I had a bad feeling we were going to blow a tire on the way down. Heck we were already going to be cutting it close getting there in time to get stuff done. I didn’t want any unnecessary delays.

After determining it was just a leaky valve stem extension the fix was quick and free.

I wanted to leave town at 9, but 10 at the latest. We were on the road at 10:02.

The road trip there was pretty entertaining. My son got to relive the 80’s and 90’s era of music with me. I can’t believe how many songs I knew the words to.

Once we hit Kentucky, the winds really started playing with the motorhome and the steep grades testing the engine and transmission. It was a bit frustrating being stuck behind semis struggling to maintain 55 mph and knowing you only had 57 mph worth of speed in your vehicle with no way to pass. I hate giving up forward momentum.

We arrived on site at around 5 pm. We started to unload and get set up. Normally we are there a lot earlier and are out socializing with our friends at that point.

I asked my son to finish getting some stuff out while I went over to say hi to Gilly’s BBQ. I typically would wait until later but after that drive I needed to have a break of sorts. After a brief talk I noticed a KCBS rep golf cart driving towards us. This was great I needed to get my meat inspected. Normally I would have to walk around trying to find someone who knew who was doing the inspections.

We get through the inspections and the reps are about give us our entry containers when I hear something you never expect to hear at a competition.


OMG!!! did I just hear that right? Not waiting to hear it again, the paramedic instinct took over. I apologized to the reps and out the door I ran into the direction of the man on the ground.

The assessment started as soon as my eyes locked in on his body. Hoping it would be the common result of the “collapsed not breathing” nature, a seizure patient, it was not. I approached the slowly becoming cyanotic gentleman, announced I was a paramedic to the bystanders and checked for a pulse.

Just a moment ago the only thought going through my mind was I needed to start injecting my meats, now here I was performing CPR. Again the duck on the water scenario was, I’m sure, playing true. Calm and collect on the outside but 100 mph on the inside.

I knew what I wanted to do, attach a heart monitor, intubate, start an IV and if the pt could be so fortunate to have a shockable rhythm, defibrillate him.

I asked for an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator), these are becoming more and more popular in public places for the layperson to use in situations exactly like these. This site unfortunately did not have one.

Still this stranger, BBQ competitor, BBQ aficionado or whoever he may have been, has the all of the right things happening for him to have a good outcome. Early CPR, with frequent changes in fresh personnel to ensure high quality compressions.  My son even played a role in helping by running to get us gloves. I don’t even think he let me finish making the request. He told me later that if he didn’t do it then someone would have had to stop CPR to go get them.

The EMS crew arrived on scene, treated and transported him to the hospital.



2014 has begun

As you are reading this, my son and I are on our way to the first of hopefully many successful BBQ competitions.

This is going to be a bit of a sentimental and special one for me, because I don’t get the chance to do a lot with him. My work schedule keeps me gone most of the time and when I am home we are busy running around getting caught up.

The past couple days off have been even busier. Until you actually compete, you can’t imaging the amount of work that teams may go through in order to get ready for the upcoming event.

I have driven over 200 miles may last day off just getting supplies ready and before that I had spent the day loading up the motorhome and trying to finish waxing it. Still need to finish that.

Today while at work I have been trimming meat so we don’t have to worry about it when we get there. If all goes as planned, and it never seems to, we should arrive in London KY late afternoon or early evening.

Yes I have been getting nervous, trying not to second guess my game plan and trying not to stress out too much about being prepared. This feeling always seems to present itself before the first comp of the season and by the end I’m usually not giving things much of a second thought.

So to all of you that are out cooking, whether you’re doing it with family, friends or drunken cohorts, may you have the best time doing it.

That’s what BBQ is about. And if you don’t mind sending us a little bit of luck, we’d sure appreciate it.

The jitters are starting

The 2014 BBQ competition season is just around the corner and with that comes a bit of stress, some sleeplessness and hopefully a lot of great memories.

I say it all the time, a sleepless night BBQ’n is better than a sleepless night at work.

The days leading up to our first competition are going to be pretty full. It may still be a week away but for me that means only 2 more days off to get things done. It is amazing at the amount of time spent preparing for a competition. When you consider a double full-time work schedule, normal family errands and time to just relax, it can become a tad overwhelming trying to get supplies, trim food and stock up the motorhome.

Then hoping for a slow night so I can make the 6 hr drive immediately after getting off of work, so I can get set up in time to attend the cook’s meeting. Then prep meat, start cooking and broken sleep.

Man I am getting excited all over again, the first comp jitters are beginning. Wish us luck, we’re gonna need it after looking at the team list.

Please take a second and visit these sponsors sites

Mad Cow Cutlery


If you ask for it, you should also return it

It seems as soon as one BBQ competition season ends I begin to think and plan for the next. Reloading the KCBS recently added events page becomes an instinctual part of my web browsing. I am always updating our schedule with competitions that are closer to home, making sure I don’t miss an early bird discount and making sure I don’t miss a deadline to enter.

The person in charge of scheduling vacations knows when our season begins as requests hit his desk on a pretty regular basis. This, other than an empty bank account, is about the only reason to prevent us from attending an event on our schedule. I do this so that I don’t make plans and financially commit to go somewhere only to be told you can’t have that day off.

That would create a bit of unnecessary grief for us. We would have to tell anybody going with us to change their plans, potentially have a brisket aging for no reason and also have to explain to an organizer that I needed my money back because I didn’t think to make sure I had the day off before committing to your event.

No what do you think an organizer is going to say to that request? I would hope they would be sympathetic, but wouldn’t blame them if they said “sorry about your bad luck, maybe next time plan a bit better”.

Now here is another scenario

As a team, I make sure I have the time off, the money to travel and follow the event’s updates. I have a planned date to mail my entry fee in 2 days before the deadline, (Again I am constantly checking for closer events), and if possible I try to let the organizer know of my intention to attend and when I will send my entry in. That way if there is a concern about making a minimum of required teams they can unofficially count us in the tally.

One of the events that we planned to attend posted on their Facebook page that “only X amount of spots are remaining (theoretically plenty but didn’t want to chance it) you better not wait until the last minute or you might get left out”. As soon as I read that I let them know they could subtract one more spot because our entry fee would be mailed out that day.

I filled out our entry and to the post office it went. Signed, sealed and mailed.

As each day passed, I looked for updates to their page. I would see other teams being added but not our’s. I check my bank account and the check hasn’t been cashed. So I send an email making sure they received it and to see if there was a problem that I didn’t notice because it’s now a little over 1 month away and wanted to resolve it before the deadline.

I finally get an email response saying “I received your application last week.  I am holding it until I kknow for sure that I have a spot for you.  Should know by the end of next week.  Hope to see you soon.”

I think to myself “Crap!! I somehow was too late” I send a reply asking “Are you full?”.

“Not yet but close”

Seriously?!?!? You have my paid entry and I am assuming open spots, so why are you holding it and not confirming it?

My actual response was “I guess I’m confused then. What is the concern with having a spot for us?”.

I am still waiting to hear back.

So in theory I now have to wait until then end of next week when they figure out where they plan to fit us, if they can, before I can make plans to attend. Maybe I am not a big enough or popular enough team to matter as to whether or not they’ll have a spot for us.

The first thing I did was reload the KCBS website and see where the other comps for that weekend were. I am nearly irritated enough to drive an extra 200 miles.

That might be a bit overreacting and dramatic, but organizers would hate if the teams started waiting until the last minute to say whether or not they were coming. Have the same respect for the teams. If I have sent in my entry on time and you have spots open, then I feel I shouldn’t have to wait until the last minute to be told I can make plans to go.

Although I do hear Georgia is nice this time of the year.