Monday, August 08, 2011


The weekend of July 23rd and 24th brought the Harpoon New England Championship BBQ in Windsor, VT, one of our favorite weekends of the year. We always have a great time at Harpoon, and this year was no different.

Arrived around noon after an uneventful drive. Usually the drive up to Harpoon is relatively easy, a clear shot up Interstate-91, but the states of Massachusetts and Vermont decided to add a layer of challenge this year. Numerous bridges are being repaired, and they have them closed down to one narrow lane, with around an inch clearance on each side of the trailer. Amazed I did not clip the trailer at least once, it was really close.

Cristiaan and I got on site around noon Friday. Went to lunch at the brewery with Mike and Kris of Lakeside Smokers, was great to see them again as always. Great lunch, and afterwards members of our team for the weekend started to trickle in. Some of pour longtime friends were coming up for the weekend, including John Kozub, who introduced me to my wife and was in our wedding. Also there were Bill Bonato and his wife Sue, who we have been friends with for a long time. They were coming to enjoy the event for the first time and help us with vending.

My Mom came out too, her first contest since my father passed away last October. It was great to have her at a contest again.

KCBS is Saturday at Harpoon, and NEBS grilling is Sunday. Teams are also allowed to sell their food at Harpoon, which is good and bad. The good is that you can make money, the bad is that it can distract you from the reason you are there in the first place, which is to try and win the contest.

Overall the KCBS contest cook went ok. I have been working on some changes to my chicken recipe, as it has always scored decently but has never been first place. Clearly my changes have gone the other way, as chicken was 20th place out of 40. Back to the drawing board.

I was determined to cook better ribs than our last time out at New Hampshire, where they were 33rd out of 39. That was completely unacceptable to me. Harpoon ribs came out much better, and were 5th.

Pork was where I really screwed up. Distracted by the vending and overall zoo around me, I neglected the pork. It was done too early and all I really had to turn in was mush. It finished 24th, and I was shocked that it finished that high.

Brisket was another story. I normally only cook one brisket at contests but at Harpoon I cooked two, knowing I could sell it all. I cut into the first one and it just wasn't exactly where I had hoped, so I tried the second one and it was right on. The judges confirmed this, and it was second place.

Overall, we were 6th for the contest. Our good friends at Lakeside Smokers won, which was awesome. If we are not going to win I want them to, and they nailed it. Nailed the whole weekend, as they also won the grilling contest the next day.

Think I am going to leave the discussion about the grilling contest out completely. No calls, and a pedestrian finish of 15th overall. I did not put my best foot forward here and it showed. I think the food was ok but you really need to take it to the next level when it is open garnish and such a strong field of teams. Also, I stubbornly refuse to cook a dessert for chef's choice, even though I know that it what has been hitting.

12th place wings.

Cooked ABT's for chef's choice. A disappointing 16th place.

But overall it was a great time, especially cooling off in the river after a long day Saturday. Truly a highlight of the weekend for me.

Harpoon was great as always. While we did not win the ultimate prize, we got a couple of good calls and had a blast with some great friends. To me, that's what it is all about.


Foodness Gracious said...

It can be ok for someone to say you did great, which I might add I think you did but I'm the same as you in that when you know a peice of meat just isn't how you'd like it, it bugs the heck out of me. I'm jealous just for the fact you were in such an awesome place and comp, I'd love to get myself into one, maybe soon, I'm always looking.
Thanks for sharing..

Ted Lorson said...

Hi Foodness, thanks for reading. There are a lot of events out there in California, take the jump! If you have any questions fire away, I will help you in any way I can.

And my choice is thin crust, you haven't lived until you have tried New Haven thin crust pizza!

Kevin (BBQ Smoker Site) said...

Great job at this event, guys! I posted on it here. Sure wish we could get the Cigar Brewery here in Tampa to do one!

Tango Joe said...

I am enjoying reading about your adventures on the BBQ trail. Congratulations on that 2nd place in brisket, bravo!

Chris said...

Chicken seems to be the one that gets a lot of people. It's a fickle thing isn't it?

Even still, sounds like a great event and a lot of fun.