Thursday, July 06, 2006

Reality Check

Well, the honeymoon is over.

After taking third place in Rhode Island and Grand Champions in New Hampshire in our first two competitions, Q Haven finished a disappointing 9th place out of 16 teams in the first annual I Love BBQ Festival in Lake Placid, NY July 3rd and 4th.

We got no calls, which means we didn’t finish in the top 5 of any of the four categories, which are chicken, pork ribs, pork shoulder and beef brisket. I know that “you can’t win ‘em all,” and that we certainly aren’t going to have success every time out, but this one hurt.

All along, I have been telling the team that we shouldn’t really worry about the results, and that we just need to put our best foot forward and do our best every time out and let the chips fall where they may. We all worked really hard at this contest, and really felt that we gave the judges some great food. Maybe that’s why I still have a knot in my stomach, more than 24 hours after the award ceremony.

However, we had a really great time at this event. The people who organized the contest really wanted to make it about us, the competitors. They made sure we had everything we needed, and just seemed excited about the whole thing. Lake Placid is a neat little town, and we competed right in the Olympic skating oval where history was made in 1980 and Eric Heiden won five gold medals.

We met some really great people, including Rick Pruitt from North Carolina and his wife. They traveled a long way to be at this event, and I hope they enjoyed the northern hospitality!

Rick and his wife.

We also got to spend some time with freinds we met at the New Hampshire competition, including Ward Mann from Hog Heaven. We also finally got to meet the famous Waldo, Ward's loyal teammate.

Ward and Waldo

I promise that if they hold another competition next year, I will definitely come back. It’s a long drive for sure, but Lake Placid is a place I want to visit again.

Back to the cooking.

Everyone who tried our ribs raved about them. Everyone, that is, except the judges. We finished seventh in ribs. Here’s the turn in.

I think the ribs were a little overcooked, and the presentation could have been better, either of those things or both probably cost us a call.

Chicken, the skin remained a problem for us. The taste was really good, but we need to solve this rubbery skin issue. Took 9th in chicken.

The pulled pork, we decided to just use shredded, sauced meat. Mistake. Looking back, we didn’t include enough bark in the turn in, and we completely tanked pork. Finished 15th out of 16. We had tons of leftovers afterwards from cooking two eight pound butts, and everyone who sampled the pork afterwards told us that it was great. I guess a lot of people were just being nice. Here’s the pork.

It was the brisket that really bothered me. It was a little on the dry side, but it had such a good flavor and smoke ring, I didn’t think there was any way in the world it wouldn’t get a call. We just missed the call, taking 6th, but when they called I Smell Smoke (again) as the winner for brisket it was like someone stuck a knife in my back. I still don’t believe it that we didn’t get a call. One judge gave it a perfect score of 9-9-9, another gave it an 8-9-9. Two others didn’t like it as much and gave it 6’s and 7’s, and that did us in. Here’s the brisket.

Even though we didn’t do very well, I’m not planning to make huge changes for our next competition, which will be the Hudson Valley Ribfest in New Paltz, NY August 19th and 20th. Hopefully we will get back on track at that event.


Sheila said...

Hey, Pit Boss. I'm so disappointed about Lake Placid, but we did have some serious fun! We'll get them next time! Love,


Curt said...

You guys have done great so far... Remember, much more experienced teams have ups and downs... your results so far have been GREAT for a new team! I'm jealous! :)