Culinary Artistry

The Friday evening potluck is a standing tradition at BBQ contests in California.  It’s a last chance for fellow competitors to relax and be friendly, catch up on how the family is doing, and swap funny stories before the teams put on their game faces and gear up for intense competition mode late Friday evening for the long overnight cook until turn-ins at noon Saturday. 

I’ve developed quite a following on the California contest circuit for my elaborate potluck dishes demonstrating culinary artistry cooking in a challenging outdoor kitchen setting (think blustering Santa Ana winds, summer heat, dust, bitter cold, etc.).   I love the challenge and think this part is as fun as the actual BBQ contest.  We often have different potluck themes such as coming up with a dish based on some classic movie.

By day, I sit in a fabric-covered box leading a team of information technology project managers in a Dilbertesque existence.  On weekends, I love to express myself artistically by making a simple white dinner plate come alive, like an empty artist canvas, with the freshest ingredients sensationally juxtaposed with balanced colors, presentation, texture, aromas, and taste. 

I’ve been inspired by foods from around the world in all the many beautiful countries I’ve traveled to as a former 747 pilot.  I cook from the heart with passionate appreciation of the culture and cuisine I’m trying to emulate.  I’ve received three marriage offers so far from those who’ve enjoyed them immensely!  I’ve also released my Ahi Tuna pictures for a Hawaiian magazine publication and I also cater these fabulous dishes!  They taste as good as they look. Enjoy these 17 contest potluck pictures! 

2009 West Coast BBQ Championship Mystery Dish – Seared Flank Steak over Roasted Corn and Potatos w Merlot Sauce

2009 West Coast BBQ Championship – Medley of Roasted Vegetables with Balsamic Glaze

2009 Tempe Arizona BBQ Festival – Prawns in Jack Daniels Beurre Blanc Sauce with Marinated Artichokes and Sun-Dried Tomatoes over Black Calamari Ink Pasta

My son Brian shot video of me making the Jack Daniels Prawns dish.  Many have asked what happens in my tent Friday nights so now here’s your chance to see it yourself! Enjoy!

2009 Palm Desert Cookoff Potluck – Classic Movie Theme –

The “King and I” starring Yul Brynner “Etcetera, etctera, etcetera”

Thai Red Chicken Curry with Mango and Mint with Kaffir-Lime Scented Steamed Jasmine Rice

2009 Hesperia California Championship – Classic Movie Theme –

“Kung Fu Panda” starring Jack Black, Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Lucy Liu, and Angelina Jolie

CBBQA Finger Eggrolls with Shrimp and Pork with Sweet Chili-Lime  Dipping Sauce Served on Banana Leaf Platter

2009 Qu’en for Kids BBQ Cookoff State Championship, Costa Mesa, CA

Harry’s New Style Sashimi (designed for one of my good friends who won’t eat raw fish; now this is a big hit at all my parties; she ate every scrap of my serving to her)

White Fish cut into paper-thin slices using the usu-zukuri method; arranged beautifully on a platter ala fugu blowfish plate-style; dabbed with a little grated young ginger; sprinkled with sesame seeds, chives, and yuzu soy sauce. Just prior to serving, heat olive oil and sesame oil until smoking and drizzle over fish slices.  This dish always disappears FAST!


2009 Q-Fest Awards Ceremony Potluck – Barbeque Spaghetti with BBQ Brisket and Spicy Andouille Sausage Topped With Gorgonzola Cheese and Italian Parsley

Spain – Lobster and Seafood Paella w Saffron and Chorizo

<featured in my January 2009 Bobby Flay audition video>

2008 Wishland Q-n for Kids Potluck

Hawaii Seared Ahi Tuna w Maui Onion Dressing

<featured in my January 2009 Bobby Flay audition video>

USA / Italy – BBQ Spaghetti w Smoked Brisket and Sausage w Parmigiano-Reggiano Flakes

Italian / Mexican – Carpaccio of Salmon w Crab over Tortilla Shell topped with Micro Greens

Korea – Soy Asian Pear Marinated Grilled Korean-Style Short-Rib w Valinda Onion and Cherry Tomato Relish

2008 Sunburst BBQ Cook Off – Georgia Shrimp and Grits Low-Country Style w Gringo Bandido Hot Sauce

(Muchos gracias to Gary Notley for providing the Gringo Bandido Hot Sauce by rocker Dexter Holland, of the band Offpsring; Gary, if your sponsor wants to use this Shrimp and Grits picture, you have my permission.)

Portugal / Italy – Braised Beef Short Ribs with Portuguese Madeira Wine Sauce with Gorgonzola Cheese over Gnocchi

Vietnam – Vietnamese-style Poached Shrimp Salad w Shredded Green Papaya, Asian Basil, Mint, and Lime Habanero Fish-Sauce Vinaigrette

France / Italy – Farmer’s Market Vegetable Papillotte (Parchment Paper) w 25-year-old aged Balsamic vinegar Aceto Gran Reserva 25 Balsamico Villa Bellentani

2008 Sunburst BBQ Cook Off – California BBQ Assoc. Roll w Pulled Pork, Bonito “Snow” Flakes, and Wasabi BBQ Sauce (based on an idea Gary Notley and I came up with during a 2008 contest)

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