TLC BBQ Pitmasters Episode #5 – American Royal Open

DIY cold weather mods for our trust Weber smokers

DIY cold weather mods for our trusty Weber smokers

Our results were dismal at the Sunday Open contest with about 500 teams taking part. I take 100% responsibility. I was exhausted from not getting much sleep Friday and Saturday night from cooking the Royal Invitational. I awoke startled early Sunday morning with that gut-wrenching feeling after realizing I overslept by 1 hour. I tried to recover by upping the temps but one mistake compounded the next and we had our worse finish ever as a BBQ team coming in 256 out of about 500 teams. Our chicken was 315th and brisket was 385th.  Major OUCH!

When I was an airline pilot, we had to study how airplane crashes occurred so as to learn from them. One truth that emerged was that there were always a minimum of 3 mistakes before the plane crashed. A mistake often led to an overcorrection which was exacerbated by a third error. When I awoke late, I upped my ribs temps then forgot that my chicken needed less time as it was in the rib smoker. As I worried that ribs would be underdone, I forgot about my brisket. In the end, the chicken and briskets were overcooked.

BBQ is a microcosm of everyday life with ups and downs. The Open was a downer for us. When you’re up, life is easy. It’s when you’re down that you’ve got to motivate yourself to drag yourself out of the hole.

To win in BBQ, just like winning in life, you’re got to have more than knowledge because knowledge can only get you so far. The greats like Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Kobe Bryant, et. Al., have all sprung back from defeat. To do so, you need more than knowledge; you’ve got to have the 3 F’s: Faith, Fire, and Focus. Faith refers not to religion but a unwavering belief in yourself; Fire is the passion you have for what you do; and Focus is the 100% concentration you need to stay completely on top of what you’re doing. To win, you must have both: knowledge and the three F’s. My focus was off and I got what I deserved.

I have two weeks before our next contest to put the “licking” from Open behind me, push ahead, and dig deep and bring our A-game and 3F’s to win!

Mark, Gary, and Harry at the Royal 2009


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