|Competition Barbeque Team|
|15th of 26|
|See our BBQ Gallery for more pictures from the competition.|
For the 3rd year in a row the Chesapeake Jubilee received a proclamation from the Governor declaring the BBQ Competition a state championship!
In what has become our "style" we left two hours later than we had planned. We never seem to make up those hours either. Maybe feeling behind the whole time helps us focus?
We got in about 1:30 - 2:00. The Chesapeake Jubilee covered a large area and it looked like there was a lot to do. They had a carnival, three stages and a whole slew of venders. Almost made me wish I was there as a spectator. We found a spot next to Who Are Those Guys. They are great neighbors; even fed us dinner! Man - I want to be next to those guys at every BBQ Competition.
Friday was a lot of fun. After the cook's meeting it was time for Anything Butt. We have gone 'round and 'round about this category and came to a compromise. We did a stuffed shrimp thingie that was not to bad. We both knew it wasn't a winner but hey, live and learn. The picture above is some we held back to share with our neighbors. We forgot to take pictures of our Anything Butt turn-in.
After Anything Butt we got our Butts and Briskets started and wondered down to see our friends Pigs on the Run. John asked us to come by and brought a bunch of oysters to insure we would! By the we got there the oyster roast was in full swing. I even brought my oyster knife to help out. Good weather, good friends, fresh oysters and BBQ smoke in the air - to get any better than this it would have to involve a bevy of bikini clad beach bunnies, a couple cases of beer and an air horn! Unfortunately, we needed to get back to tend our meat and try to grab a little sleep before morning. On the way back we stopped to check out R&B legends The Four Tops.
We returned to our BBQ site and found our cookers just humming along right at the temperature we left them. Gotta love those WSMs!
Know what the term "All hell broke loose" means? It seams like as soon as we hunkered down for the night that's what happened. The wind came in like a demon with a vengeance. The walls of our canopy shuddered, corners not weighted down rose into the air and everything in it's path blew around like a Kansas farm house in that movie with the ruby slippers. As Christy and I coward on the ground between the cots with coolers stacked around us for protection the winds howled - daring us to even look at the damage that had to be going on. It didn't let up until about 4AM. In the rare lulls between gusts all we could hear was the team across from us bragging about staying up all night and drinking a lot of beer. More than once we heard "I walked around and had a beer for every team here!" I'm still impressed - WOW. Between you and me there were 29 teams and my guess is this guy lost count and started over more than once.
When the wind died and the sun rose we crawled out to survey the damage. We had none but a couple teams did loose canopies. We think we were real lucky. I do think our canopies moved about 6 inches. That's 2 canopies tied together and held down with 6 5 gallon buckets of water.
The early morning is my favorite time at a BBQ Competition. I'm an early riser anyway so I'm up and about before most. It's a quite time and I like to walk around a bit. Watch the sun rise. Check the smokers. It's a great time for a man to get in touch with his meat.
Quite times have away of slipping away. A couple of chores still needed doing, like prepping and starting the ribs & getting the chicken into our secret soaking sauce. Once the ribs were chuggin' along steady and the chicks were snuggled back in the cooler it was time to think about breakfast. Many of the better BBQ Competitions offer a cook's breakfast. This was no exception. I've had better but I'm not complaining. We had our choice of: coffee, tea, milk, muffins, donuts, bagels w/ cream cheese, cold cereal, toast, fresh fruit and several varieties of Pop Tarts made to order! I had a glass of milk, a blueberry muffin, a blueberry Pop Tart, some strawberries and a banana!
Not a ton to do between 7AM and 10AM, just watch the cookers and check my big meat for doneness. A big draw for the spectators was our neighbor's home made cooker. The guys from Tar River BBQ built their own smoker:
As noon approached we had everything going as planned. The big meats were sitting in a cooler resting. Christy had cleaned and sorted the garnishments for the boxes, then pre-prepped the boxes. The ribs were holing in a foil pan - done to soon. We had the chicken glazed and bock on the cooker hoping the skin would firm up and suddenly out of no where.... nothing happened. The skin didn't even get to bite through. We knew chicken would be our worst category (not only did I not cook it right, it didn't trim well either). I like to have about a dozen thighs to choose from when it comes time to box. We had 9 that looked OK! The only suprising thing about our chicken score is that we didn't do worse.
The remaining meats went much better. We had decided to experiment a bit with the last 3 boxes. We jammed as much of the last 3 in each container as we could, all in an effort to boost our appearance scores. My feeling is that the appearance is the thing you have the most control over. If your not getting all 8s & 9s you aren't trying hard enough. (We ended up with one 7 each in Brisket & Pork).
Our only goal in coming to Chesapeake was to improve our Pork score. We were pretty happy with all everything except our chicken. But I was most proud of our Pork. A new rub, a slight change in our cooking method, a new sauce AND a new approach to presentation. Only time would tell. After turning in our Brisket we stopped to see Elvis for a minute. (I do a better Elvis than this guy - but he gets paid to do it so I guess that says something.)
We took time to have a beer after the final turn-in before turning our attention to packing up. Some BBQer's are very organized and can set up and / or pack up in under an hour. To me that is the true difference between a newbie and a seasoned pro. It takes us forever! By the time the awards rolled around 2 hours later we were still only about 1/2 packed.
The Chesapeake Jubilee had 29 BBQ Competitors and they were awarding the top 10 in the Fantastic Four (Chicken, Ribs, Pork & Brisket) plus the top 2 in Anything Butt so I was fairly confident we'd hear our name at some point. It was a tough field of competitors including Pigs on the Run. They have been the Grand Champion the past 2 years.
Anything Butt, Chicken and Rib winners were called with us just standing on the sidelines. Later I found out we missed getting a call in ribs by just .0002 points! If only one of those 8's in appearance had been a 9.
Pork was next and it has always been an issue for us. All our friends and co-workers seem to like my Butt - the judges have always not. Today we were going in with a whole new product. This time they seemed to like it and rewarded us with a 4th place call. Cool, that made it all worth while. They weren't done either. We also got a 5th in Brisket.
The final two awards were Reserve Grand Champion and Grand Champion. I was trying to do the math in my head. Who was going to be the new Virginia State Champion? A lot of teams had two calls There was no clear run away winner. I couldn't remember if anyone had three calls (I checked later and both Chef Herb Production and Uncle Jed's BBQ had three).
The Reserve Grand Champion was the Woodchicks! Lee Ann had just beaten Bobby Flay in a Food Network "Throwdown" so it was good to see her.
No one was more surprised than we were at the last call of the day. When I took the picture above we had no idea that trophy in the background and the title of Virginia State Champion was going to the Virginia BBQ Pirates! And now we have a 1 in three chance of getting invited to the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational BBQ competition in Lynchburg, Tennessee.