2009 Palm Desert Cook Off (IBCA)

This was a good warm up first-round practice for 2009. There was a pang of rookie nostalgia as it was here at Palm Desert in 2008 where we somehow completed our first ever contest and miraculously took RC. I feel that our naiveté has rubbed off after surviving 9 contests last year. This is ground zero where we began, and Palm Desert will always be a special place in our hearts.

Although we had decent placings (1st Pork, 2nd Ribs, 10th Brisket, 4th Overall; 5 points behind Larry’s GC; and 1st in People Choice), Mark and I were surprised our chicken did not make the top 11. As we carefully retraced our cooking plan and reviewed our photos, we realized we made two key mistakes which took us out of GC contention. The first involved cooking timing, and the fatal one involved quality control before turn-in. This won’t happen again in our next contests. We learned important lessons. That’s why, it’s critical to maintain consistent contest-level readiness if a team intends to do well at high-stakes TOY contests such as Stagecoach, Fairfield, or Viejas! I realize why the top-tier teams compete 30-40 times a year to get it right. I recall Vince and Alexa from RnQ say they competed 14+ times in 2008 to reach the TOY- and Jack-level they have accomplished. Success comes to teams that work hard and consistently. For 2009, we plan to work our tail off, and then some.

A BIG CONGRATS to Larry for Grand Champion (GC) and to Chubby Hubby for Reserve Champion (RC)!

<Bekah’s Slideshow Pics>

<Harry’s Slideshow Pics>

Congrats to all the teams who walked!

Congrats to all the teams who didn’t get to walk but had the courage to come out to have fun and compete! You’re better and stronger that those who woulda, coulda, and shoulda!

Kudos to Phil Carter for your 1st place ribs and to Brian K. for your 2nd chicken. We’ve been patiently rooting for you a year and now you’ve reached the top!

Nice job with the first-time teams who came out to brave the rain and cook with all of us. I think I visited with most of you to say hello. Remember on any given day, any team can win!

It was fun to meet all the folks who drove the long hike from Arizona to join us. We’ll be checking your AZ Barbeque contest calendar to come visit you soon.  Good to see you again Mike!

It was great to see an epic 2009 Palm Desert throw-down between father and son, Thom (Palm Desert Grand Champion 2008) vs. Kyle (Palm Desert GC 2007); and Thom being so gracious to publicly award his trophy to Kyle even if Dad came ahead in Brisket!

Thanks to all our BBQ brothers and sisters who stopped by to let us know that you voted for my Food Network audition video, so I’ll improve my chances to cook with my hero Bobby Flay on his “Grill It” program next month.

I’m glad everyone seemed to enjoy the Movie Themed “King and I” potluck dish called Thai Red Chicken Curry with Mint and Mango with Kaffir-Lime Scented Steamed Jasmine Rice. I was happy to see the plate empty quickly.

We had a fabulous time and experienced a number of FIRSTS, namely:

  • First time cooking in the rain. Thanks to Notley Que for letting us share your canopy at 4:30 am Saturday when the rain started pouring
  • I shot my first video blog, following BigMista Neil’s tradition of asking the question of the day, ”How did you stay warm and dry in the rain?”
  • This was a first for me witnessing a singing dog. Chris Juencke’s singing dog, a very talented Boxer named Brisket, belted out a few tunes
  • >Our very first ever 1st place in Pork. We had come in second in Pork 3 times already and it was sweet to finally get a 1st place finish
  • I was pleasantly surprised to receive flowers during our first place Pork win. I invited a family friend Donna to help with PC and it’s a tradition from the country she came from to give flowers. It was very nice and my first time ever receiving flowers!
  • We were really surprised with our very first 1st place in Peoples’ Choice where the public, instead of judges, decides which team has the best-tasting BBQ. The rain Gods must have been smiling on us as it was the result of a winning random draw from the three-way tie among Notley Que and 4Q. We’re just a small volume team who’s never been a PC contender. This was great!
  • I “discovered” that Mike from AZ BBQ has the same “love” for liquid smoke as I do. Eat your heart out as I’m the only Q-er holding 3 bottles of that stuff!
  • My year-old el-cheapo (but favorite red) canopy was destroyed in the blustery winds, so I’ll be coverless for the So. Cal. Q-fest next Friday. Gary Notley, brother, could I hang under yours?

We had a wonderful time, and it was great to see everyone again. Thank you judges, K&K IBCA Reps, Thom and Keith organizersPalm Desert Country Club PDCC hosts especially Terry for being so helpful, all the sponsors, the AZ teams, and Calif. teams. Thanks to Rib Tickler BBQ Larry (GC) for hauling my meat from our common specialty butcher all the way from San Diego and thanks to Roberto from T&H Meats for the contest-grade meat which we won’t leave home without.

PS. Special mention goes to Paul Mayer for his really unique Train BBQ rig. Paul, please don’t be discouraged and look forward to getting better as you can only go up. The glass is half-full. If you keep practicing and asking questions, your passion and hard work will result in a walk or two or three soon. The next time we meet, I’ll help you with questions you have. We’re a close-knit community of Q-ers and we want to see everyone be successful. Most importantly, remind yourself the real reason you’re out with everyone is to have fun.

See everyone at the So Cal Q-Fest next Friday!