Thursday, August 4, 2011

First KCBS Competition Is In The Books

The members of Smoke Dreams BBQ endured some hot and humid weather on July 29 and 30 to successfully survive their first KCBS competition. The event was the 1st Annual Bluemont BBQ Bash held at Great Country Farms in Bluemont, Virginia.

Before we even got to Bluemont, the team enjoyed some nice publicity from an article in Leesburg Today, one of our local papers. The ol' Goofus gave a nice interview to a cub reporter about the upcoming event, and lo and behold almost half of the story was about us. This was pretty good publicity!!

hog-nosed pitmaster preps spare ribs
Once we arrived at Great Country Farms we moved into a spacious 24'x24' cook site, the largest the team has ever enjoyed. This gave us plenty of room to spread out our cookers, tables, coolers, and other gear that we need to operate a productive and efficient outdoor kitchen. We didn't have to worry about stepping over each other or any of our stuff.

We loaded in, set up, and prepped on Friday, and the temperatures peaked at about 103°F. We chased every beer that we drank with a bottle of Gatorade and a bottle of water. I couldn't believe how much fluid we consumed just to stay hydrated. We went through a lot of ice, but thankfully the competition organizers had some on site so we could restock for $2/bag whenever the contents of our coolers started to get a little watered down.

Sweltering in the heat and humidity, we trimmed up all the meats and got everything ready to go for a long night of cooking. Thinking that we were going to have electricity, we brought some lights and other gear that required juice – like fans to keep us cool. However, once we got there, we discovered that the organizers were providing water but not electricity. Thankfully, Eric had a buddy in the area who owned a generator, so he was able to borrow it, thereby providing electricity without too much trouble.

Big Daddy loaded with meat
We started our fires at about 10pm, using Kirk's trusty turkey fryer burner to effortlessly ignite our charcoal chimneys. With Dwayne as the team's official pyromaniac, we got Luke's 22.5" WSM going first (brisket) and then at around 2am we fired up the Big Daddy Smoker (pork butts and ribs).  Kirk's little Brinkmann smoker didn't get lit off until Saturday morning because the chicken doesn't take that long, plus it was the first turn-in at noon.

Timing is always a challenge at a BBQ competition, but with this being our initial KCBS outing, our turn-ins were only 30 minutes apart versus the hour that we had enjoyed at previous non-sanctioned events. The period from 11:30am until 1:30pm was the most hectic yet exhilarating experience of our lives, but we got through it and turned in everything on time.

delicious pork is shredded, sliced, and boxed
Our meats were pretty tasty, but knowing that one-seventh of our score was to be based on appearance, we made sure that our boxes looked nice. For that we have Michael to thank because his box preparations were professional and meticulous. We used Bibb lettuce for the first time and inserted some parsley as an accent. The variegated look of the Bibb lettuce was awesome, and it's a technique that we will continue to refine for subsequent competitions.

tessellated blackberry goodness
There were couple of optional categories that we entered. The first was where local V.I.P.s (e.g., politicians, civic leaders) judged a box that was turned in at 2:30pm. We had a second batch of chicken ready to go, so we served that up for them. There was also a blackberry-themed dessert category, and we were fortunate to have Luke's friend, Leigh Anne, prepare a delectable and creamy number that had blackberries in it and on it. Yum!!

So, what about the results? Here's how Smoke Dreams fared against the 25 other teams:

  • Chicken (153.1432) - 21st place
  • Pork Ribs (157.7146) - 10th place
  • Pork (160.0000) - 10th place
  • Brisket (134.2856) - 24th place
  • Overall (605.1434) - 17th place

The V.I.P. entry came in near the bottom, but that's okay because our aim was to impress the Certified Barbeque Judges in the KCBS categories not the inexperienced palates of the local celebrities. The dessert came in 8th out of 14.

All in all we were very delighted by our performance, especially because in specific categories and/or the overall rankings we came out ahead of caterers, restaurateurs, teams that sell BBQ-related products, and teams with big smokers and years of experience under their belts. Not bad for our KCBS debut, eh?

Want to see more? Check out the pictures.

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