Grand Champion – 1st Annual Pechanga BBQ Championship

Grand Champion – Pechanga BBQ Championship


Photo courtesy of Sean Rice of

As 6 pm rolls around for the awards ceremony after a BBQ contest, I often have mixed emotions and feelings.  I’m happy and relieved that the contest is over while at the same time anxious over how the judges scored my entries.  There are some days that you feel you’ve done your very best but the judges don’t think so.  Other days, you think you turned in ho-hum entries but the judges reward you with first place.   Some days you win when you should not and others you don’t when you think you should.

Pechanga Resort and Casino is the largest casino in the state of California

Contest site facilities and amenities were first class

At the 1st Annual Pechanga BBQ Championship held at the Pechanga Casino in Temecula, California (about half way between Los Angeles and San Diego), many teams, including me, did not have any idea who won that day.  As the top ten were counted down, I though SYD would be fortunate to finish in the top ten of 53 teams since SYD had only two calls with 3rd chicken and 7th brisket.  Several other strong teams had three calls and several had two calls including first places.  After 10th place though Reserve Champion was called and SYD was not mentioned, I settled into my chair and told myself I did not make the top ten and that my ribs and pork must have tanked that day.  I was feeling happy for a couple of teams who were old friends of mine and was getting ready to congratulate them as I thought one of them had won.  When the organizer Henry Silvestre called SYD for the Grand Championship amid the packed ballroom of 53 teams and their families, I almost fell of my chair in shock as my brain could not comprehend what my ears were telling it!

After the dust had settled and I had an opportunity to look at the scores, I learned that I won because I had a consistent day by finishing 12th in ribs and 12th in pork.  So, on that day, two walks was enough to win as my ribs and pork did not tank as I feared.  I’m very grateful for that outcome as I competed against many of the best NorCal and SoCal teams.

Fans of TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters young and old stopped by to sample SYD BBQ

Gorgeous day and the crowds were out!

I was so very proud that my SYD 101 students Steve of Pit Crew BBQ finished 1st in Ribs, and Sherry Berry of Temecula Rub Co. finished 1st in brisket in her very first outing!

Sherry Berry of Temecula Rub Co; photo by Sean Rice of

Five of the top ten overall teams were my former SYD students (3rd The Pit Crew, 4th Pete’s Firehouse BBQ, 5th Lady of Q, 7th Burnin and Lootin, and 10th The Rib Doctor) which really made me very happy.  Way to go SYD alumni!!!

A big thanks to Woodhouse BBQ for breakfast waffles with Jalapeno Hollandaise Sauce

A big congrats to Brazen BBQ for RC and to all who walked.  Thanks to Henry Silvestre and the Pechanga Casino for an awesome event. Thanks to Kelly and Kathleen for being the KCBS reps and to all the judges and volunteers.  A big thanks to my helpers Mimi, Brian, Debbie, Miranda, and Cathy.  Special thanks go to Art Splawn and crew from Meteor BBQ Inc who is one of SYD’s sponsors who also cooked this event.