Mark and I were astounded to win Reserve Grand Champion (2nd Overall) on Sunday against a large contingent of top professional BBQ teams in a field of 161 teams in the GAB Open Contest. Habitual Smokers from Kansas won Grand Champion. The cooking adjustments we made after analyzing our scores from Saturday’s Invitational allowed us to finish 3rd Pork, 4th Chicken, 16th Brisket, and 60th Ribs. The Saturday samples we gave to several neighboring teams, who were also Certified BBQ Judges (CBJs), paid off as we incorporated their feedback that Kansas judges like it very sweet and non-spicy. With this unexpected achievement, we certainly put America on notice that Californians can put out some decent que!
Our Walnut Creek California BBQ friends Lori and Dave, and our Kansas City friends Bunny and Rich, whom we met in April at the Stagecoach State Championship in Indio, stopped by to visit us and led our cheer team at the awards ceremony. Yes, we actually had a cheer team as everyone knew about the crazy Californian iron-butt team who drove 1,800 miles and the longest way to attend this contest. By Sunday, we had made so many new friends including Paul Kirk, the BBQ legend and inventor of the term “Texas Crutch” for aluminum foil; Steph and Kyle of the famous Birds and Bones rub company; Bill Arnold of Blues Hog BBQ sauce used by many competition teams; Dan of the Kansas City BBQ Store and Oklahoma Joe’s restaurant, Motley Que, and many others.
We became “family” with our neighbors Barb, Charlie, Jim, and Cathy of Mad Hogs and an Englishman; Joe and April of Slow Smokin Kentucky Joe; and Drew and Jason of Hog Tide BBQ. We joined in their birthday parties for Grandma, burgers and bratwursts, apple pie and smores, swapped BBQ stories, and watched the nightly fireworks show. We toured the huge BBQ event lot, met many teams, and enjoyed the dozen bands playing at the various loud and fun parties. Many team sites had corporate sponsorship and put on huge parties with flowing drinks. There were even a couple of Best Party awards.
The sheer scale and size of this event is hard to describe with so many contest categories such as Kids Que, sauces and moping liquids (6 sub-categories), rubs (many sub-categories), desserts, beans, vegetables, product placements, corporate presentations, appetizers, wraps, wings, and the list goes on.
Many heartfelt thanks go out to Tracy Satterfield and her team of helpers and volunteers who put in a 100% effort and treated the BBQ teams like VIPs. Water, ice, and trash golf-carts would come by what seemed like every hour. The host carts would come by several times daily to check on us personally. Ash, grease, electricity, and our every need were taken care of. For example, when we ran out of drinking water, they brought us water to keep us hydrated. They even had showers for us to use which felt so wonderful after sweltering all day in the humid Kansas City heat.
By the time we left the Great American BBQ 2009, many welcomed us as honorary Kansas City citizens. Several teams proposed to lend us equipment so we could fly in next time to cook with them. Barb, our BBQ neighbor, is an organizer of the American Royal and she offered to get us set up with a good spot for that event in October.
We drove home on Monday with amazing memories of standing on stage with many distinguished BBQ teams in the BBQ competition capital America. We felt as-one with the wonderful community of ordinary folks united by our common passion of BBQ. The Great American Barbeque 2009 was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Slap Yo’ Daddy BBQ; one which we will never forget.