The 2013 competition BBQ season is in the books. Q Haven had a respectable year, and even qualified for the Jack Daniel's World Invitational BBQ. But overall, the season was a step backwards for us.
By far 2012 was our best season. Counting grilling contests, we won three grand championships, one reserve grand, and came close at several other contests. I had certainly hoped this would carry over into 2013 and there was really no reason why it shouldn't have. While we finished towards the top at nearly every contest, we only won once, and at the two biggest money events of the year we laid colossal eggs.
The season started with a KCBS contest in Staten Island, NY. Decided to rough it at this event, didn't bring the camper because I didn't want to tow in through NYC. It was just me and J Ambrogio, who volunteered to help out since Sheila couldn't make it. The highlight was first place brisket, the low points were the bad weather and cooking on a hill. Finished 5th overall.
Next up, Green Lane, Pennsylvania. Really tough field, one great call for 2nd place pork. Finished 6th overall. This is a great event but the bad weather really made things tough, many had to be towed out of the flooded field! I slammed the Expedition into 4WD and blasted through the mud, getting out without needing a tow.
Up next was our last trip to the Greenwich Town Party. While the concept of a contest organizer giving teams $1,000 to cook food for a BBQ people's choice with $12,000 in prize money looks great on paper, losing to a local restaurant that cooked pizzas and Asian wings was a little too much for me this time. No more GTP for us.
The confidence began to rise the following weekend at the Monadnock Up In Smoke BBQ Festival in Swanzy, New Hampshire. This was a great event with endless possibilities for the future. We got calls all over the place in both the grilling and the BBQ contests. In grilling, we took second in dessert, third in wings and 5th in the bacon category to finish fourth overall. In BBQ, we took first place ribs, sixth in chicken and seventh in pork to wind up third overall. Our friends Jared and Suzanne Huizenga killed it at this contest, winning both grilling and BBQ. If you are not going to win, it's always great when your friends do.
Took a few weeks off to cook some catering jobs (somebody has to pay for all this ridiculousness) before heading up to Lake Placid NY for the I Love BBQ Festival. This was one of the first contests we ever cooked in 2006, and we always come back up to this beautiful mountain town whenever we can. Really glad we did this year, as we took 3rd in pork, fifth in ribs and sixth in both chicken and brisket to take grand champion honors. This win got us back to the Jack Daniel's World Invitational BBQ for the second year in a row and the third time in our seven years of competition BBQ.
A couple of weeks later we jumped right back into it, cooking the Pork in the Park contest close to home in Stamford, CT. This ended up being a ton of fun. We were inside a "courtyard of friends," made up of JC's Wicked BBQ, Diva Q, Stubborn Bull, Fire and Spice, BBQ Brethren and more. We finished 5th with yet another call in pork, 3rd place.........
And that's where I stopped writing in January. It's now May 14th. I hate to leave work unfinished so I'll wrap it up.
We cooked Harpoon, Sam's Club in Long Island, New London and Atlantic City before heading back to the Jack. Got good calls at all, but no wins. Bombed AC, finished towards the bottom, which was like a kick in the nuts. The Jack in October was fun but difficult, as it was just me, Sheila and Max with no helpers. We still got a call for 6th place Pork, 11th place Brisket and finished 22nd overall among the world's best 2013 teams.
The 2014 season is now upon us, we finished 6th out of 41 teams in Staten Island, and that's been our only contest of the year. We have all kinds of scheduling issues this spring, but have around 10 events on the schedule through October.
I may never post on this blog again. If not, thanks to all of you who have read it over the years. As you know social media has moved past blogs, and so have we. But I appreciate all of you who have read, commented and messaged me over the years. Even the insulting ones, some of those were my favorites. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram in the future, and of course at qhavenbbq.com. Peace and Love.