Dana Point BBQ Championship

100-foot Blue Whale comes up for air

The Cadillac of all California BBQ competitions came in with a roar at the end of September.  The 1st Annual Dana Point BBQ Championship treated its BBQ teams with such luxury, most of us were almost too relaxed to cook competitive barbeque by the end of Friday night.  The city of Dana Point which is located at the southern end of Orange County, is a popular destination for surfing and whale watching.  As such, the city treated us to a private whale watching cruise on Friday afternoon, followed by an elaborate buffer dinner catered by the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort.  The mayor, Scott Schoeffel, welcomed us to the city and thanked us for participating in the city’s first KCBS BBQ contest.  He explained that the city had purchased a smoker for emergency purposes and thought that hosting a contest would be a nice way to demonstrate its utility and enjoy good barbeque. We feasted on appetizers and a seafood buffet which included a flowing chocolate fountain.

First time seeing a chocolate fountain at a BBQ contest!

After dinner, I strolled back to the two tent sites that I had setup using my equipment for our two teams (Slap Yo’ Daddy and Butcher’s Daughter).

SYD and Butcher’s Daughter BBQ

Around 9pm, Donna and her daughter finally arrived from her flight and drive from the airport, thanks to my daughter, Amy, who picked them up from Ontario airport.  I wanted to wait until she arrived before we both started cooking.  We had agreed the week earlier that we would wager a 2.5hr Thai massage for the pitmaster who could beat out the other in contests we would both cook.  I had to give her a 5-contest handicap to even us up as of Dana Point and because I have three more years of experience over this newbie. So again, we found ourselves cooking on one smoker and begun our preparation in the middle of the night.  Within an hour, our meat was on the smoker and the bet was on.  After a quick Mexican dinner, our daughters were resting on 700 count sheets at the Marriott Hotel while we were “slaving away” on our meats into midnight.  The night was cool and misty as we went to sleep in the minivan.  By morning, my meat was cooking as planned and I was able to enjoy the company of my neighbors while I waited for my meat to reach hog heaven perfection.

Rare treat for us cooking on grass for a change!

My former assistant, Benny Adauto and his wife, Shari, were cooking as Funtime BBQ a few tents down. It was also good to see my former students, Andy Soto of Master of Disaster and Sylvie Curry, solo cook of Four Q.  Andy was practicing some last-minute tune-ups before heading out the Jack Daniels in October.  I know that Andy will cook very well at the Jack and will do us proud in California.  Go Andy!

In the end, I finished 8th overall, with a nice 1st place finish in pork shoulder.  A brutal 35th place in brisket held my scores down along with a disappointing 12th place in pork ribs and 15th place in chicken.  Though it wasn’t my worst performance for the year, I still finished lower than my rookie girlfriend who placed 5th overall.  I’ll have to tune up my Slapilicious skills before I lose the Thai massage bet to her at the end of the year.  Congratulations to Benny who finished 6th overall and Sylvie for her nice ninth place finish.  Also many thanks go out to the city of Dana Point and Arlie Bragg for a great first year contest.  I hope it happens again next year.  It was great for our two families and daughters from NorCal and SoCal to get to hang out together.

Pitmasters and their daughters