Monday, June 01, 2015


It's been a busy month of May.  Cooked two events, the first being Smoke in the Valley in Green Lane, Pennsylvania.  Q Haven took 2nd place in chicken, ninth in ribs and was 15th overall for the contest.  Not the finish we were looking for but I suppose you can't win them all.  The weather was great, and we spent the weekend surrounded by friends, which was a bonus.

After a week off it was time for the Roc City Ribfest in Rochester, NY.  We have always heard what a great event this is but had never made it up there before.  The event is always Memorial Day weekend and we always seemed to have something come up that kept us away.  The festival certainly lived up to its billing, and we had a blast.  Got a 4th place call in Brisket out of 57 teams, along with tenth place pork to finish 9th overall.  Our chicken hit a very low scoring table, and if it had scored where it usually does the overall result would have been much different.

As of now, we only have one event on the books in June, the Sun BBQ Fest at Mohegan Sun Casino June 13-14.  We cooked this event last year and also vended BBQ, and we plan to do the same this year too.  Should be a great time.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Ridgewood BBQ

Visited Ridgewood BBQ today in Bluff City TN.  We were in the area for the Beistol NASCAR races and stopped by on our way out of town. We shared the beef platter and a pulled pork sandwich. Smoky flavor and a tangy sauce.  Here's the beef platter. 

The meat appears to be smoked and later cut really thin with a slicer and reheated on a griddle.  We also really enjoyed the sweet tea and the blue cheese dip. 

The smokehouse. 

Had a nice stop, grabbed a bottle of sauce to go too.  Good times. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Staten Island Grand Champs

We got 2015 off to a fine start April 11th, taking grand champion of the NYC BBQ Cookoff in Staten Island NY. We took 2nd in both ribs and pork along with 6th in brisket and 8th in chicken out of 33 teams.  

It was really good to be out there again. It helped to have nice weather and a good spot away from the peoples choice madness. Really allowed us to focus and have a good cook. 

Next up is Green Lane PA in a few weeks. 

2nd place ribs. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Congrats Bill Gillespie

Really nice job on this cookbook. Lots of great info.  Grab it on Amazon. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Here We Are In 2015

I know I said I wasn't going to post on here anymore.  Well, I lied.

The 2015 season will be our tenth on the BBQ circuit.  I can't believe that I have been cooking competition BBQ for more than 20 percent of my life.  There have been a lot of great times, and plenty of lowlights too.  We have won five KCBS grand championships, two grilling grand championships, cooked the Jack Daniel's World Invitational BBQ three times and been called to the stage each time. It's been a fun ride so far.

 I have seen so many teams come and go over these last ten years.  Some were very successful and just decided for their own reasons that they just didn't want to do it anymore.  Some were just a train wreck and never figured out what it's all about.  Some transitioned into the business of BBQ, which makes it harder to get out there and compete.  I really miss seeing some of those who have moved on, some I'm happy they're not around any more.  But we keep on going.

If I was going to walk away, I think this last year would have pushed me to do it.  It was a tough year for us on a personal and professional level.  My real job has become more and more difficult, and various factors with our living situation had become a huge distraction. 

We got decent calls during the BBQ season but struggled at times.  We finally win a big contest in September, taking grand champion of a contest in Allentown, PA and winning $3,250.  On paper.  The organizer stiffed us, the other winners and pretty much anyone he could fleece.  As of this writing we have collected $325 of those winnings, and that only came after the media jumped on the story and us threatening legal action.  We probably will have to sue to get the rest of the money.  But the good news is that the contest is in the Jack draw, so that's something.

Many frustrations.  But I have no interest in walking away. 

There are a few reasons.  I enjoy the travel, and some of the people we see out there.  Since we moved closer to New York we have been cooking more Mid-Atlantic than New England.  That has been a nice change for us, as we have met a lot of cool people on teams from the region.  Also, I left the New England Barbecue Society board last year on not the best of terms, so not seeing some people who drove me to walk away has not been such a bad thing.  And I really do enjoy a road trip, and BBQ gives us plenty of opportunity for that.

How many things in life are you going to be good at?  Through a lot of practice and cooking dozens of contests, we usually can expect to have decent results.  While we are not one of those top teams that expects to win every event, we always have a puncher's chance when we high step into town and have proven we can win against a strong field of teams.  If you're good at something and you still enjoy it, why quit?  For a few years I have had the discussion about packing it in with myself many times, and have determined that I just don't want to quit.

So now what?

In the short term, I need to throw a new floor in our trailer before the first contest, which will be Staten Island in early April.  I have stayed in game shape cooking for my brother's restaurant, Le Jardin du Roi in Chappaqua, NY.  They're a French restaurant, but more and more people are coming in for the ribs, burnt ends and other BBQ items my brother and I have been cooking for them.  It's been a great partnership, and is continuing to grow.  Stop in for some BBQ, it's not exactly our competition food but most of the elements are there. or on Facebook.

Longer term, we have pretty much our usual season planned.  Last year we cooked ten contests, which tied the most we have ever cooked in a year.  This year we will probably do about the same. 

So far the plan for 2015 is Staten Island, Green Lane PA, Roc City Ribfest, Mohegan Sun, Harpoon, Sam's Club Harrisburg, possibly New London and definitely Bear Smokehouse in Hartford.  That gets us into September.  We also have a trip to visit family in Tennessee planned for April, where I am taking Max to the NASCAR race at Bristol Motor Speedway.  And it looks like my brother and I will be road tripping to the Grateful Dead's final shows in Chicago on the July 4th weekend.  Looking like a real busy year.  Who knows, maybe I will post again.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

2013, A Season

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 Peace and Love.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Q Haven BBQ Catering

Q Haven's schedule is filling up fast for the 2013 season.  Q Haven is available for BBQ catering in Connecticut and southern New York.  For more information about having Q Haven's championship BBQ at your next party or event contact Ted Lorson by e-mail at