2nd Annual Golden Acorn BBQ Fest, Campo, Calif.

After being spoiled with perfect weather conditions at Vista the week prior, most teams worried about the much talked about high winds and desert heat that can be associated with cooking at Campo. Last year’s contest was held in November, but the contest was moved earlier to August to celebrate their 10th anniversary of the Golden Acorn Casino started by the Campo People in 2001. In addition to the KCBS sanctioned event, there was a separate MMA cage fighting contest and classic car show.

Our team arrived late due to a full workday, a plane flight, and a 3hour long drive.  It was 10pm before we arrived at the cook site at the Acorn casino.   Being late didn’t bother us because we were just happy to be at Acorn on a gorgeous weekend, with no other intent other than for the love of cooking.  Two pairs of hands proved faster than usual and within an hour of our late arrival, our brisket was toasting comfortably in our smoker while Ardith Richardson of All Hogs showed us her truck stop entry for the Friday night convenience store contest. Most teams complained of having to include the hard and spicy garbanzo beans into their dish. We think promoter, Henry Silvestre, one of the three judges, lived to regret it as well the morning after!  We were at high altitude, so we cooked at 275 instead of our usual 250 degrees to compensate for the height and also because we started our brisket late.

It was with delight that we awoke to a beautiful morning and NO WIND! The static windmills, unseen in the cloak of night, decorated the horizon and stretched across the skyline towards Arizona. The slight breeze made cooking comfortable, and we were thankful for our good fortune.

Grand Champion

In the end, we cooked our best and enjoyed the company of visiting friends and the smaller crowds associated with the desert sun. Many thanks for the extraordinary breakfast and good company of our neighbors, All Hogs Go to Heaven. It was great to see rookie, Cameron Treu of Bam Bam’s BBQ from Gilbert, AZ take a walk for 2nd in brisket and Brandon Evans of Route 66 Catering Crew who cooked alone without any canopy and came first in chicken and 7th overall. These types of solo efforts are admirable in that they are driven by a pure love to cook. Though the team count was set at 20, the bar was very high, bringing in some of the best teams from Arizona and Southern California. We were privileged to edge ourselves up to the top and take home another Grand Championship. We also shared good times with Henry Silvestre and little Henry Silvestre, as well as a nice, air-conditioned conversation with Kathleen McIntosh.

Organizer Henry Silvestre and Junior