We won our third Reserve Champion for 2010 at the Boise Music Festival State BBQ Championship in Boise, Idaho, on July 24, 2010, amid a field of 27 teams from Idaho, Oregon, California, and Arizona. This was our first contest in Idaho as we were chasing the Jack Daniel Invitational draw in the state of Idaho which has only two grand championship contests so the winner would have a 50-50 chance for the Jack.
The big story was that our competitor from Arizona, Vince and Alexa from Rhythm n Que won GC by a wide margin with 3 first places in chicken, ribs, and pork. This would be RnQ’s 7th GC which meant they would get an automatic invitation to the Jack. In the process, three other teams (R&R BBQ from Idaho, Jennifer Duncan of Smoked To The Bone and my BBQ 101 student from Arizona, and Sweet Peppers from New Mexico) also obtained automatic Jack invitations as they were the only remaining Grand Champions for their states after RnQ exited the race. Unfortunately, for us, with 12 contests in California, we would not be so lucky to get in under these special conditions for those states with only two grand championships where RnQ already won one of the two.
We’ve edged out RnQ the last three contests, so this was their turn to take top honors. We finished as Reserve Champion with 2nd Brisket, 2nd Ribs, 9th Chicken, and 10th Pork. With 5 GC’s and 3 RC’s under our belt, we’re still short of the 7 GCs needed to get an automatic Jack invitation without going through our California state lottery draw. With three more contests to go before the August 31 deadline, Benny and I will have to win all three as one of our five GCs, the New Mexico contest, may not count if it did not meet the minimum 25 teams to quality for the Jack. We’re determined to stay focused and push forward with a full-court press until the Aug 31 deadline. Hey, we know it’s not easy to win 7 GCs and that’s why only a very small handful of the 5,000 teams are able do it each year! [Update: 8/31/10: I was incorrect; the IBCA official results web page shows 27 teams so we’ve have 7 qualifying GCs]
Aside from the intensity of competition, we had a chance to also relax a bit and enjoy the butterflies as we were able to fly in to cook this event thanks to the generosity of Jeff Selle of the Rub Em Raw BBQ team from Idaho. Jeff went out and bought two new 18-inch WSMs so he could loan them to us together with all the bulky items (canopy, igloos, etc.) so we could fly in and cook out of three suitcases. Jeff and his crew, and family, really took care of our every need. This is tantamount to a competitor lending you their race car so you could race against them. You won’t find this camaraderie in any other sport. All we did was post on the Internet forums and Jeff graciously stepped up to the plate. We owe Jeff and this team a debt of gratitude. I had the pleasure of engraving some BBQ wisdom on the WSMs which Jeff let us use as a small gesture of thank you.
The influence of BBQ Pitmaster Season One continues to surprise me as Meghan, Jeff’s daughter, showed us a photo and handwritten note from Jessica, a 10-year-old, who’s a fan of the show. It really touched my heart to know that our Cinderella story inspired so many persons even though Jessica was too shy to come to the event to meet me in person. Perhaps, in the future, I’ll get to meet her. Read the note and you’ll know what I mean. I’m glad I was able to pack some leftover BBQ for Jessica and her family to enjoy. It’s moments like this that transcend the competition aspect of BBQ to take you to the essence of BBQ with is the human relationships you build with total strangers whom you’re united via a common passion and love for BBQ. The community and camaraderie of BBQ is amazing, and this is an Exhibit A testament to that fact. So if you’re reading this Jessica, I want you to know that BBQ equals happiness!
It was a pleasure to also cook beside Kim Glineski from Snake River Farms who is our sponsor for our Wagyu meat products. Kim is a new cook but don’t let that fool you. Her team The Smokin’ D and the Wagyu took 4th. She placed 1st in brisket, and we took 2nd by a scant 0.0004 points behind her! The Boise contest was nicely represented by several women pitmasters including Kim, and a couple of Grand Champion women pitmasters from the Northwest: Lynnae Oxley of Sugar’s BBQ, and Cindy Hayter of Ella’s BBQ. It was great to see diversity amid the all-common all male field.
A big thanks goes to Olga and Vern, Benny’s sister and brother-in-law for hosting us; Jim Monihan as organizers; Mark Silver and Gene Goycochea as officials; and all the volunteers, judges, and helpers. We’d like to thank our terrific Sponsors: Rocks BBQ System for our Stoker temperature control system, T&H Meat and Sausages for our meat products, TheSlabs.com for our rub products, Cajun Grill for our Weber stainless replacement doors, Smokin Guns for our rubs, Butcher BBQ for our injections, and Snake River Farms for our Wagyu meat products.