Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Q Haven 2007 Year in Review

It's been a long year, and a great year, this our sophomore year on the BBQ circuit.

In 2006, we hit the scene with a pretty good splash. A no-name team from Connecticut, grabbing awards and even winning our second contest out of the box. We qualified for the Jack Daniels, which was our fifth ever contest. It all seemed so easy.

It's not that easy.

The competition is very stiff in New England, despite what many people across the country may think. I learned quickly that in order to remain competitive, you have to bring your A game to every contest. While we didn't win any contests in 2007, we did have some great showings and I hope to build on that in the off season and into 2008.

The 2007 unofficially started with the Winter Sizzler in Lincoln, New Hampshire in January. We were among a dozen or so brave teams who battled each other and the elements on a snowy weekend. We took 2nd place in pork and 2nd in chicken, taking reserve grand champions for the event. It was a great start.

Next were a pair of grilling events in successive weeks in March. I cooked alone at the Snowshoe in Massachusetts, getting one call for 5th place fish and finishing 7th overall. Ironically, the next week at Grilling on the Bay in Brooklyn, NY, we got one call for 5th place fish and finished 7th overall.

Our BBQ season finally got underway in late June with a flurry of activity. Complete with our brand new camper/toy hauler, we hit the New Hampshire Rock-n-Ribfest in Nashua, NH. We didn't get any calls for grilling, but in the BBQ event we were called for 2nd place ribs, 4th place pork and finished 7th out of 36 teams.

The next weekend, it was off to Lake Placid, New York and the I Love BBQ Festival. In the midnight grilling bash Friday, we took 2nd place for chicken and 5th overall. Saturday was a "buck-a-rib" contest, where teams were able to sell ribs to the public, and they voted for the best. We took 3rd in that contest. In the KCBS contest Sunday, we only got one call for 5th place brisket, but finished 4th overall among some extremely stiff competition.

After three weekends off, we competed at Harpoon in late July. While we didn't score all that well, we did get a call for 7th place pork and finished 7th overall for the event. We also had a ton of fun, and sold a ton of food. I cannot wait to go back to Harpoon in 2008.

After a week off, we decided last minute to cook the Great State of Maine Grilling and BBQ festival. This was an interesting contest, held on a sloping cornfield on a farm in Maine. We did pretty well overall for the contest, especially in grilling, taking first place for steak, second place for pork and 3rd place for blueberry dessert. After briefly being awarded the grand championship, upon further review we were actually third and had to give the trophy back. In the BBQ event, we got calls for ribs and pork, finishing 6th overall.

A week later, it was off to New Paltz, New York and the Hudson Valley Ribfest. Again, we excelled in the grilling contest, taking 2nd place fish and sausage and finishing 4th out of 41 teams. Then, tanksville, our best score was 18th place pork, and we finished 22nd overall.

Not wanting that to be the way we finished our season, I entered us in the Battle of the BBQ Brethren in Sayville, Long Island, NY. Again, we did great in grilling, with first place chicken wings and first place fruit, along with 5th place steak. Reserve grand champions. In the KCBS contest, we got calls for 5th place chicken and 8th place brisket, finishing 12th overall.

That's our season. We were 7th in the New England Barbeque Society team of the year standings, and finished towards the top in almost every contest we entered, picking up two reserve grand championships along the way.

We will head into 2008 with a new smoker, and with the same determination and competitive spirit that got us into this racket in the first place. I'm hoping that some kind of winter contest happens again, because I will not be able to say no. I'm ready to get back at it. In the meantime, the practicing has begun.

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