Sam’s Club St. Charles, MO

Another competition week has come to an end. This brings a bit of sleep back to my night and a bit of relaxation to my day. The day after is actually about the only day that I don’t obsess about BBQ, I’m not saying that I don’t check in on the forums (I’ve logged in twice since we got home) or check upcoming event sites for the most up to date team (the Rockytop Hummin’ and Strummin’ BBQ Cookoff is up to 30), but I am not constantly thinking of every detail.

This last weekend we competed in the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour local qualifier in St. Charles, MO. This was an event that I have debated doing since it’s inception. It’s an event that has the potential to earn teams some decent money and recognition. Some of the best of the best teams compete at these and the other teams are awesome as well. This event was one that could be determined by who made the least little mistakes. A simple difference of 1 point could mean hearing your name called or being unheard.

We arrived on site a little before 1 pm. Got our area set up and began the prep process.

The Sam’s events are somewhat different from other events as they are a no frills competition. There are no vendors, bands, cook’s dinners/breakfasts or on site water. What they do provide is a very efficiently ran event. The timeline for everything was exact. The cook’s meeting began right on time as well as the awards. Troy was not lying that if you were 3 minutes late to awards you were probably going to miss the chicken category. The winners were read off with about 1 second in between and were all done within 15 minutes. The longest part was waiting for pictures to be took of the winners. By 4 pm we were on the road home.

Cooking this event was like most others. The times remained the same and it wouldn’t be a comp without some kind of hiccup for me. This time it came by way of a grease fire. The good thing was I knew it was going to happen.

How? You ask?

Well when I opened the firebox I noticed a large puddle of used motor oil on the bottom of it.

motor oil

Yes, you are right if you are asking yourself “Smoker don’t have oil pans, do they?”

That is a big grease problem. For some reason cooking 6 butts the day before created that. I know this because I had power washed the cooker Tuesday night. So came time to adapt and overcome. I cleaned up as much as I could with paper towels and then burned some charcoal to hopefully get rid of the remainder. Unfortunately I don’t bring a lot of extra logs/charcoal to waste. So I rolled the dice and played on.

I made it all morning without a grease fire. Then after the meats were wrapped, I noticed the smoke smell that you never want to smell. It is just plan foul smelling, thick and white. Having been down this road before I knew what had happened and my wife quickly confirmed that I had fire running below the RF plate. The only remedy without ruining the entire cook is to suffocate the fire.

After a careful eye and a tongue adjustment the grease issue became absent.

Other than that the cook went extremely well. I thought everything but the brisket had a chance to get a call. We even tested new waters and put breast meat in the chicken entry.

At the end though we never heard our name. I was a bit disappointed because I thought we turned in great food, but I knew how great all the other teams were and as I stated before it will be the little things that will make or break your chances at this competition.

Here is how we did:

Chicken – 11 169.6916 (10th place scored a 170.8228)
Ribs – 26 161.6800 (10th place scored a 167.9772)
Pork -13 169.1200 (10th place scored a 170.8228)
Brisket – 20 162.2284 (10th place scored a 168.5600)
Overall- 16 662.7200 (10th place scored a 673.6340)

Thank you to all of our sponsors that help get us to our comps. Please visit them and support them as they support us.
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Firecraft essential grilling equipment



6 weeks of no competing, makes for a busy time.


You would think 6 weeks off from competing would be a bit relaxing, but let me tell you.

The bill paying part of my life has gotten busier and less employees to do it. This has been leading to a bit more sleeplessness. This could be a benefit as I may be better prepared to function on no sleep during a comp.

After our last competition our motor home developed an electrical gremlin. I am no electrician by any means, but hate the thought of spending a bunch of money to repair a possible easy fix. So I spent a good deal of time reading forums, talking to friends and outright guessing solutions. This lead me to replace a solenoid, almost the wrong one. But that didn’t fix the problem, so I guessed at replacing the switch. I bet you didn’t know that a switch has 7 very small pieces, not counting the broken pieces (from my doing). That didn’t fix the problem. My wife finally says “Instead of you continuing to spend money trying to fix it, why don’t you spend some money and get it fixed?”. I told her “Because it is probably a small, simple fix”. I conceded and sent it in, guess what? Yup it was a simple fix. I didn’t get a good connection to the fuses of the solenoid. Someone once told me there are 2 days of happiness owning an RV, The day you buy it and the day you sell it. I was starting to see what he was talking about.

This past weekend we cooked for Georgetown Ambulance’s Annual Community BBQ. 162 Lbs of pork, 40 Lbs of chicken quarters and 15 slabs of ribs. Holy cow was that a challenge. At the end of the day it was a success with everything being sold.

Then I had to back out of the Sertoma 48 BBQ competition, because a spot opened up at a much closer event, the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour in St. Charles, MO. For some reason this competition has been bugging me. I am trying not to over think or change my normal game plan. The level of competitor is very high for these events and leaves very little room for error in cooking. The goal of this event is to finish in the top 6, by doing so, you move on to the Regional event. No stress at all thinking about that.

Then as if I didn’t have enough to do already, I started an outdoor kitchen build. The progress was moving along pretty swiftly,however, it seems like the weather and free time have been working against me. 

So here I am on a Monday and it occurs to me that I haven’t even gone through my competition checklist. UGH!!! Every 3rd day off just isn’t enough.

I need a vacation.