Our quest to earn another qualifying GC to the Jack led us to the lovely town of Longview, WA. We needed an 8th GC as our appeal to include our Canada win was not sustained. On this last weekend of July, we entered a first year BBQ contest sanctioned by the Pacific Northwest BBQ Association (PNWBA). Seventeen of the best teams in the Pacific Northwest showed up in the Thunder Mountain cookoff. We were able to fly 1,000 miles to cook this contest thanks to the assistance and generosity of Anthony and Christene James from Raven’s and Dan Shuflin of Lone Star Smokers who loaned us their WSMs, canopy, folding tables, igloos and Cambro coolers.
Our Friday began with a meat, charcoal, and groceries shopping frenzy in Portland with guidance from Gregg Fujino of Woodstock Smokers. Anthony who was carrying all our loaner equipment and brisket to Longview, Washington, about 1 hour from Portland, Oregon, was rear ended so we weren’t sure he could continue his drive as his trailer sustained damage. Luckily, he was not hurt at all. When the other teams heard this, they went and rounded up extra equipment and an extra brisket just in case. Fortunately, Anthony made it in safely by 8 pm and we completed our prep and started our smokers by 9 pm.
Music at the Thunder Mountain BBQ, Longview, Washington
By morning, the band was playing, our meats were cooking smoothly, and the rare face of the sun shone brightly on a day that the rest of the country was experiencing rain and hurricanes. With pork butt and brisket turned in, we began on our ribs as the head PNWBA judge approached our booth and called my name. I thought to myself, “Oh oh! This can’t be good.” As us cooks are fond to say, “When you see the Head Judge before the end of a contest, run like Hell!” She was very gracious and polite when she informed me that my brisket point had a tiny piece of aluminum foil sparkling in the sunlight. As luck would have it, the speck was found by a vigilant first-time judge.
Tiny speck of foil on 1-inch cube of brisket burnt ends results in a DQ (disqualification) for foreign object!
So, for the first time in 4 years of competition, we were disqualified by the foreign object rule. We didn’t catch the teeny speck on one of our cubes of burnt ends. Once you get to my age, it’s not so easy to see. So we received 1 point out of a max of 10 for appearance from all six judges. Brisket has been our most consistent category, so this mistake put us out of running for GC despite finishing 1st pork, 2nd chicken, 8th ribs, and DAL (Dead Ass Last) 17th brisket.
Cindy from Ella’s BBQ, who was also DQ-ed for raw chicken. So to console the both of us, she did a little pole dance for everyone with a thong made of aluminum foil! We laughed at ourselves for our silly mistakes. It was the first in 6 years of competition for Cindy. As any cook will tell you, it’s when and not if, you make such mistakes at a contest. Despite this slip up, we had a lot of fun in this BBQ contest, country fair, and rodeo.
Congrats to Kodey and Paul from Home On The Range for GC and Big Daddy’s for RC. Kodey and Paul also cooked yummy breakfast burritos for all the teams. A big thanks to Christene and Anthony James, and Dan Shuflin for loan of their equipment. Thanks to Gregg and Nyla of Woodstock Smokers for being our neighbors and helping out with all the BBQ supplies and do-dads I forgot to pack. It was great to meet so many new teams (four were women-led teams) and wonderful people including Derrick from Hellfire & Brimstone, Pat from Mad Dog BBQ, Lynnane of Sugars BBQ, Frank of Frank’s Q, and many others. Thanks to all the PNWBA
officials, judges, and helpers. This has been one of our favorite out-of-state events and we hope to be back next year, minus foil on our brisket!