Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Battle of the BBQ Brethren, Sayville NY

This past weekend, Q Haven competed at the Battle of the BBQ Brethren in Sayville, Long Island, New York. We had originally planned to compete at Dover this weekend, but after much deliberation we decided to head to Long Island instead. It turned out to be the right decision for many reasons.

The first had nothing to do with Long Island. Apparently there was a massive storm in Dover that caused major damage to team sites. I remember how scary the microburst was at New Paltz back in August, and by all accounts this was much worse. In Long Island, we got a lot of rain Friday night, but the weather was beautiful Saturday and Sunday.

Getting ahead of myself again....

Sheila and I decided that we would take the ferry to Long Island instead of driving the long way, down I-95 to New York City, then back up to Sayville. Even though it cost over a hundred dollars each way, it was well worth it, as getting the SUV and trailer on and off the ferry was a snap, and the drive was easy on the NY side.

We arrived at the site of the contest mid afternoon Friday. The contest was set in a park in the middle of a neighborhood. Will Breakstone aka Willie B greeted us and set us up with a nice site at the back of the contest area.

We only did a partial set up Friday because of the rain. However, we made a ton of ABT's, also known as stuffed jalapenos wrapped with bacon, for the planned potluck dinner Friday night. Unfortunately, a lot of the teams decided to either arrive Saturday morning or went home for the night because of the bad weather. That meant a lot of ABT's ended up in the garbage.

The good news was that there was a ton of food left over from the sponsor's dinner, so the teams were treated to a late night feast of prime rib. Very cool.

Saturday, the weather cleared up nicely, and the conditions were ideal for a competition for the rest of the weekend. High around 80 both days, no humidity, little wind. It was perfect.

Saturday was the grilling competition. Nineteen teams participated in the grilling event of the total of 29 teams entered in the contest. It was one of our finest events as a team, even though it was just Sheila and I doing the cooking, with assistance from Kris Eastman of Lakeside Smokers.

The first category was beef steak. I decided to cook filet mignon with bernaise sauce. The sauce came out really well, and the steak took 5th place.

Next came chicken wings. I've never had a call in chicken wings before spanning several grilling competitions. However, these came out awesome. I used Plowboy's Yardbird Rub and BBQ sauce, and the wings took first place.

Next was fruit. Sheila developed this recipe, which was grilled pineapples with chocolate sauce. Again, first place. Sheila rocks!

The final category was fish steak. We did the exact same recipe we used at New Paltz, swordfish with champagne mustard sauce, which came in second place out of 31 teams that contest. Not this time. The swordfish came in 13th.

When all the numbers were in, we were reserve grand champions, which is 2nd place. It was a great moment for us.

Saturday night was just a whole lot of fun. There wre a lot of friends at the contest. We were sited right next to Lakeside Smokers, who are our best friends on the competition circuit. On the other side, we had Wine and Swine, another Connecticut team who we had never met before. They turned out to be a great bunch of guys, with Merl and Jason working in the liquor business and Mike DeAngelo, who is a chef at Paul Newman's restaurant in Fairfield County.

We also got to spend time with a lot of friends from the BBQ Brethren, including Clint Cantwell (Smoke in da Eye), the Anchormen (sans Ray Depot), the grand poobah Phil who runs the Brethren web site, and many others.

Perhaps the weekend's most impressive showing was by Transformer BBQ. They decided that doing one BBQ competition in a weekend wasn't enough, so they cooked in Dover Saturday, then drove to Long Island and competed Sunday. They came in 20th in Dover among some fierce national competition, then finished 5th overall in Long Island. Brendan, Julie and JT are clearly a force to be reckoned with. They'll be at the Jack Daniel's sooner than later in my opinion.
Anyway, back to the cooking.

Unfortunately, our strong showing in the grilling contest didn't exactly carry over to the BBQ competition Sunday.

The first category was chicken. I didn't get the grill as hot as I wanted it, and I was having trouble getting the chicken finished. However, it finished just in time, and we got our first call of the season in chicken, taking 5th place.

Next were ribs. I decided to take a chance and marinate the ribs, something I had never done before in competition. Also, I bought the ribs at Restaurant Depot, which is a place I use for a lot of things, but not usually for ribs. Not sure if those things were really factors, but the ribs really missed the mark. 22nd place.

Missed with pork too. We thought this was our best turn in of the weekend. The judges disagreed. Also, 22nd place.

The final category was brisket. We thought brisket was our worst category of the weekend. Dry and tough. There must have been a lot of bad brisket turned in too, because we took 8th place.

Overall, it was a pretty successful and very fun contest. I wish the BBQ results were better but I recognize some key mistakes that probably cost us in ribs and pork.

The people who put this contest together did an awesome job. Especially Eric Devlin (motoeric), who despite a foot injury hobbled around from team to team on crutches every day to make sure everything was OK. Will Breakstone (Willie B) did a great job too, as did the too many to mention people who did little things behind the scenes that made the contest such a success.

Now, the long off season begins. Believe me there will be a lot of practicing.


The BBQ Guy said...

I like the presentation you put together for the rib box. It's different that what I usually see. Way to go. I think you're on to something.

Ted Lorson said...

I kind of liked the presentation too, but it didn't do much for the judges. Presentation scores were 8,7,8,6,8,6