Earlier this year in April, Harry Soo and I were invited by Mike Bowles, president of the Alaska BBQ Association, to observe and mentor a backyard contest sponsored by his organization. The BreakUp ShakeUp contest was a one-day chicken and ribs contest with an extra Chef’s Choice entry. Bleeding Heart Brewery and Matanuska Brewing Company hosted this 17-team contest in the pretty city of Palmer.
We loved our visit so much that we came back in August to teach a Comp chicken and SCA steak class and brought our friend, Ric Gilbert of Ric’s Righteous Ribs in San Jose, with us. Ric stayed at a nearby cabin called Grandma’s Place where a moose and two calves (plus a rainbow) frequented.
On our off day, we had fun going to the Alaska State Fair, since our California state fair was once again canceled. We watched big burly lumberjacks saw, climb and roll-on logs. It has been a hard year on everyone so making a trip up to Alaska with one of our oldest BBQ friends was a real treat.
The BBQ class was held at Band of Brothers lodge in Wasilla. The mission of their organization is to aid men in creating and maintaining healthy social, spiritual, and interpersonal skills, a goal we can all agree is vitally important. The walls of the fancy lodge are decorated with impressive taxidermy mounts of Alaskan wildlife. Add in the backdrop of a snow-covered mountain range, and you have the prettiest BBQ class you’ve ever attended.
Many of the students were competitors from the April contest. The chicken module covered pro techniques.
The steak module was an SCA primer course on basic techniques, plus there were a few appetizers to enjoy.
Jason Parson of Big J’s BBQ was our lodge host, and we cooked our meats on his Recteq smoker. Amanda Bowles, who is the Alaska Social Media Manager, ensured every class detail from planning to cleanup ran smoothly.
As long-time members of the CBBQA, Ric, Harry and I were eager to share stories with our Alaskan brethren. We did learn that California and Alaska share a similar geographic distance between its two major cities (SF/LA vs. Fairbanks/Anchorage).
The first trip in April fostered a growing relationship between our two organizations. Tracy Allen, our business membership/backyard contest coordinator in California, worked with Javon Haines who is the head judge in Alaska. The three of us worked on some concepts via Zoom to smooth out the 4-meat contest, Golden Days State Championship in July. And we heard back that it went well. We look forward to Mike, Amanda and Jason visiting us in Simi Valley for an SCA contest and wish them luck as they and other Alaskans continue in their BBQ journey.