Grand Champion at last California BBQ Contest 2008

Wow! Just got done unpacking from Sunburst and am still pinching myself about our surprising first-time Grand Champion win with 1st Place Chicken, 1st Place Ribs, 2nd Place Pork, and 6th Place Brisket among 18 teams.  What a great way to end the 2008 year at Sunburst in Los Alamitos, CA with our fellow rookie teams 7 Kinds of Smoke and Notley Que cooking on each side of us, the same way we began in the very first contest at Ground Hog in April. After competing nine times and experiencing many errors and setbacks, Mark and I have learned to minimize missteps. He is such a great assistant cook and our success has been 51% his efforts to keep me from screwing up. Also, we’ve become luckier at guessing what judges might be looking for in appearance, taste, and texture. We’ve learned along the way that each meat is unique and how it needs to be cooked and flavored in order to create a product that brings a smile to the judges’ mouth requires a lot of effort. We’ve been fortunate to find something that the judges liked in Viejas and subsequently fine-tuned it for the Sunburst finale.

Thom and Del, thanks for putting such a great effort organizing this exceptional contest, great cause to support our troops, and the convenient So Cal location.

Also, thanks to our Cheryl from the Sunburst Division for being a great host and making sure we had a large sit-down room for the potluck, Xmas gift exchange, and awards ceremony. Thanks Kelly and Kathleen for officiating and giving us the scores quickly.  Thank you, Larry, for driving 3 hours to attend the awards ceremony, and congratulations on being the new CBBQA president. Thanks to all the judges who showed up to taste and score our entries.

Tim and Diana from Rusty Barrel, I hope you will find a vegetarian to experiment with the tofu, BBQ sauce, and rubs you won at the gift exchange! Also, whoever got the pig tail turning tool, it’s a neat tool to dunk your chicken into sauce so there are no blemishes on the sauce finish. In the past, I used tongs and that was terrible. This tool makes it very easy to get chicken sauced in a jiffy and put into the tray without brush streaks or blotches.

I think I enjoy cooking the potluck dishes as much as the competition meats so for those who couldn’t make it, here are a couple of pics. Muchos gracias to Gary Notley for his Gringo Bandido Hot Sauce. Gary, if your sponsor wants to use the Shrimp and Grits picture, you have my permission.

Congratulation to Dan for RGC. I’m glad I had a chance to chat and get to meet you. Will be looking forward to your class next year.

Congratulations to all the teams who came especially the ones who came from Nor Cal and San Diego who made the long drive. Special mention goes to Chris and his wife and Dad who lent us pots and utensils to cook our potluck dish and for taking all the pictures. Larry is right, whenever you compete, you learn a lot regardless of how the final results are. I think I met most of the teams and will be looking forward to seeing all of you again soon. Special mention goes to Dale on his overdue walk. Tammy, please keep taking Dale out to contests and I’ll continue the potluck dishes for you!

Lastly, thanks for Phil (7 Kinds of Smoke) my neighbor for the coffee, bagels, and letting me mooch on his generator power. Thanks for Roberto from T&H meats for my ribs, pork butt, and brisket. Roberto, whom I met at Viejas, runs a meat store and if you want championship grade meat, he’s the man to talk to. He is a business member on the CBBQA website. Thanks for Larry from Rib Ticklers for graciously delivering Roberto’s meat to me from San Diego.

Happy Holidays everyone. See you all next at Palm Desert in 2009!