2010 Vista Smokin Classic California State Championship, Vista, CA

 Grand Champion amid 45 teams

After being bridesmaids and Reserve Champion twice in our last two contests in Arizona and in Idaho, we snagged our 6th Grand Championship amid 45 teams at the 2010 Vista Smokin Classic contest with 2nd Brisket, 5th Ribs, 9th Chicken, and 12th Pork.  Vista is a beautiful city near the coast about halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego.  We’re doing a full court press to win 7 GCs so we could get an automatic entry to the Jack Daniels Invitational in October.  The Jack, as it’s commonly called, is the Mount Everest of BBQ competition and 5,000 teams in America battle hard during the April – August competition season to vie for this honor.

Typically, one GC team is drawn by lottery from each state.  With over a dozen contests in California, the only sure way of getting there is to win 7 and obtain an automatic entry.  Only a very small handful of teams are able to do this every year, so Benny and I are trying our best to earn our spot in the Jack through hard work.  For us, we have to do one better with 8 wins as we recently heard that that our 4th GC in New Mexico may not count if there were less than 25 teams which is the Jack qualifying minimum. If that were so, it would be heart-breaking to drive 2,000 miles to win and have the win not count towards the Jack.  Benny and I have two more contests before the August 31 deadline, so we HAVE to win the last two for the automatic: Harrah’s on Aug 14 and Clearlake on Aug 28.  [Correction 8/31/10: I was incorrect; the IBCA official results web page shows 27 teams, so we’ve had 7 qualifying GCs]

It was wonderful to see many new teams in Vista.  The popularity of TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters Season One, which we were featured, continues to attract new enthusiasts to BBQ. With Season Two premiering on Aug 12, BBQ will continue to grow which is good for all of us in this sport.  I had over a dozen new pitmasters and assistant cooks at my Saturday 7:30 am free clinic where I teach how to make our Slap Yo Daddy Lazyman presentation boxes with one head of lettuce and 3 bunches of curly parsley.  Box making is my least favorite part of a contest and many teams purchase a case of lettuce and parsley and spend hours making their presentation boxes.  I developed a technique to do ours in 20 minutes and spend less than $4.00.  I’ve taught our technique to Johnny Triggs and Jaime Greer, two world renowned BBQ champions who were in Season One and they are using this technique today.  I told all those who attended to learn it, and then teach it to the next newbie they meet who wants to compete.  That way, people don’t have to intimated or nervous about entering BBQ contests because they fear the box prep.

 Benny getting ready the Slap Yo Daddy Lazyman Box class

Benny and I were able to help some first-time competitors including Mak and his wife from Smokaholics, San Diego.   Mak cooked his contest on one 18-inch WSM!  Wow!  What a tremendous feat to do the four contest meats and people’s choice meats on one smoker even though it was tricked out with 4 cooking grates. Needless to say, Mak was stressed out trying to juggle everything.  Mak bought Italian Parsley instead of curly parsley so luckily, I noticed it when I stopped by to check on how he was doing with our box technique.   Within five minutes, three teams: Rusty Barrel, All Sauced Up, and Rub Co. donated their extra parsley to Mak so he would not get disqualified for using the wrong garnish.  This shows how BBQ teams look out and take care of each other even though we’re competitors. Mak even took a walk for chicken on this first outing.  Way to go!  <Correction: after I posted my blog, a CBJ informed that Italian Parsley is legal for KCBS; Duh!  me bad for not knowing that.  Sorry; someone please tell Mak!>

 Mak and Wife from Smokaholics cooking on one 18-inch WSM

It was great to be beside Jennifer and Tommy from Smoked To The Bone and Whiskey Ranch team, respectively.  Tommy is still Jen’s pit bitch from their last husband and wife tangle in Prescott, Arizona (see my prior blog article).  Tommy is still receiving pink accessories, now from teams in California in addition to pink items he received from the AZ teams.  Thanks for the wonderful breakfast and tasty samples.

Jen and Tommy from Smoke to The Bone, AZ
Jen and Tommy from Smoked to the Bone Team, Arizona


Tommy’s still Jen’s Pit Bitch from the previous contest


 Thanks for the breakfast goodies from Tommy and Jen

A BIG congrats go out to all the teams who participated and to Vince and Alexa from Rhythm n Que from Phoenix, Arizona, for Reserve Champion.  RnQ and Slap Yo Daddy have been challenging each other to new heights in the quest for the Jack the past 4 months.  Vince and Alexa accomplished their 7th GC at our last contest together in Boise, Idaho, and have their tickets to the Jack.  We intend to follow them there!

Thanks to Ranchers Reserve for sponsoring the event and extra cash prize.  A big thanks goes to Dale Gino for a wonderful job organizing this event; Kelly and Kathleen Macintosh 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 Bandit 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.

 We’ll be back next year!