Thursday, April 30, 2009


Without much to write about these says, I'll post a few pictures of Max for those of you who are not on Facebook. The little fella is doing great and told me yestereday in baby talk that he can't wait to see all of you out on the BBQ trail this year!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Lorson Grilling Challenge

I'm doing something a little different with the NEBS Grilling Contest at the New Hampshire Rock-N-Ribfest in late June. I'm calling it the "Lorson Grilling Challenge."

Each of the four categories of the grilling contest will be cooked by a different member of my family. Here's the line-up:
First is my Mom, Sandy Lorson, pictured above. She has years of cooking experience, with her own small catering company and with a commercial one, not to mention having to deal with cooking for myself and my four complaining siblings for years. That's a lot of experience. Mom will be handling the sausage category.

Next is my sister Jenny Ramos, pictured above with her daughter Evie. Jenny is a 2001 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and has worked as a pastry chef at several top restaurants, including Zinc in New Haven, Mohegan Sun Casino and the Four Seasons in Dallas, Texas. Jenny will be cooking the shrimp category.

Next up is my lovely wife Sheila. Not only is Sheila an integral part of the team, my top adviser and our primary garnish queen, she is also no slouch when it comes to grilling. She has taken several awards for categories she has cooked on her own, including the first place dessert she had just won in the picture above. Sheila will be cooking the chicken wing category.

Last but not least is my brother Cristiaan. He is my assistant pitmaster and has plenty of cooking experience on his own. He has worked as a restaurant sous chef in the past, and currently is a part owner, manager and waiter at Le Jardin du Roi, a French brasserie in Chappaqua, NY. Cristiaan will be cooking the rib eye steak category.

I expect that this will be a fun day for all the cooks, as they will each have complete creative control over their dish. I fully intend to stay out of it completely. This is the hardest part for me, because I have issues relinquishing control, especially when it comes to the team. That is why I am calling it the "Lorson Grilling Challenge" because the challenge will be for me to stay the heck out of the way. But I expect to look like the picture below when the cooking is taking place.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

First Place Fish And Other Stuff

I have to admit I was very surprised to take 1st place fish at the Snowshoe Grilling Challenge last month. The main reason is that I very rarely even eat fish at all. But a few people have asked what I cooked so I am posting the recipe, based on what I did at the Snowshoe.

Grilled Salmon With Maple Mustard Glaze

-Salmon fillet, cut into 2 inch sections.

-Lightly brushed with olive oil, then lightly dusted with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

-Cook indirect on a hot grill, only turn once. I cooked them for around 7 minutes on each side.

-When they were almost done cooking, I lightly brushed them with the maple mustard mix.

The glaze:

- Equal parts Vermont Maple Syrup and Grey Poupon Harvest coarse ground mustard.

Once they were removed from the grill, I put them in the turn in box and brushed them with a little more glaze. That's it. Very simple.

What's really funny is that we didn't take a single picture of the fish while it was cooking. In fact, the only pictures we have at all are these, which were taken by Gary of

Of course we did take pictures of our other entries, including the horrible presentation on the burger turn in, which was embarrassing to look at afterwards.

I did practice fish a few times before I settled on this recipe. First I tried grilled salmon with a blood orange buerre blanc, it came out ok but I was not blown away by the flavor. I did love the color though.

But in the end I was inspired by a similar dish at one of my favorite restaurants, Jack's American Bistro in Old Saybrook, CT (which is now called Jack's Saybrook Steak) and came up with the maple mustard recipe. I was especially proud of the first place finish because I didn't work directly off someone else's recipe, and even though I was inspired by someone else's menu item it was something I came up with on my own.

Unfortunately I didn't fare as well in the other three categories at the contest and finished in the middle of the pack.

I've decided that I am going to start posting more recipes, especially grilling recipes. I have decided that competition wise, I am going to just have fun with the grilling and focus on the BBQ. That will be clear when you see what I am planning to do at New Hampshire in June.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Another Backwoods Party

Well, not for me specifically, but my brother Cristiaan has purchased the one above that I'm sure will get some action on the competition circuit this year.

I spotted that someone in upstate New York was selling a lightly used Backwoods Party on the BBQ Brethren forum, and I immediately contacted Cristiaan, who has been talking about getting a Backwoods for months. I told him that this was a great deal and would not last, and he immediately jumped on it and closed the deal.

It's in great shape. He picked it up Monday, and is already cooking on it today!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Judging at Grilling on the Bay

Last Saturday, I judged the Grilling on the Bay contest in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY. Sheila and I cooked this contest in 2007 and had a great time. I wanted to cook it this year, but I knew Sheila would be in Wyoming for the entire weekend, and it would have been extremely hard to pull it together. I knew that judging, I could just drop Max off at my parents house on the way and pick him up on the way home, no planning, prep, etc. So judging made the most sense to me, I was still supporting the event without the stress of cooking it.

So I left home at 7:15 AM, dropped Max off with my parents in Orange, CT and made it to the contest site right at 11AM, just in time for the judge's meeting. I ended up at a table with a chef from a restaurant in NYC, and with a food blogger. It was an interesting mix.

I took good notes, so I have been able to associate most of the teams with the foods I tried. I will leave out the names for the most part to protect the innocent.

The first category was chicken breast. I had one entry that was really good, one which was just awful, and three that were OK. Nothing really stood out here, a coupe of the entries were stuffed. One was just horrible....a large, skinless boneless, dry breast.

Next was fish. The best entry I had at my table, after some investigating after the contest, turned out to be iQue's. It was a striped bass with a nice sauce that I couldn't exactly place. It took 2nd place and deserved it. One fish entry was really unusual, it was a whole fish stuffed with a bean mixture, and presented with the head in the box. I did not like this at all, but did not punish the cook with really low scores because I am not much of a fish eater, so it would not be fair.

Pork was next, and cooks could turn in any kind of pork they wanted, ribs, loin, tenderloin, etc. We only got 4 entries at our table for this one, and all were quite good. One entry were excellent spare ribs, one was I believe a grilled bone in shank that was my favorite entry of the day. Really different and had just great flavor and texture. The other great entry was a pork tenderloin that appeared to be marinated and grilled. Pork was the best category of the day for me.

The final category was chef's choice. I was disappointed that I didn't get a lobster tail. I figured someone would throw money at the category and submit a whole lobster tail stuffed with hundred dollar bills or a gold bar, but that didn't happen.

We did get a couple of nice entries. One was a short rib slider, which tasted really good but I'm sure it took a hit in appearance, as all you could see in the box was the tops of the buns. Another entry was burgers, and this was the only 9 I gave in appearance the whole day. Just a really nicely prepared box. Another was a stuffed shrimp, which was OK. Somebody turned in six huge, grilled portobello mushroom heads, which I scored very low because of the complete lack of originality and the ugly box.

Overall, it was a great time, until of course the ride home. The Belt Parkway is a disaster, stop and go for ten miles. Between that, getting lost in Queens and later backups on I-95 and the Hutch, the ride home was extremely frustrating. But I was glad to be able to support the only cook-off of any kind this year in New York City. Some day, there will be a BBQ contest in NYC. Some day....


Q Haven's application has officially been accepted into the 2009 Harpoon New England BBQ Championships in July at their brewery in Windsor, VT. We did well last year at Harpoon, so I was pretty confident we would get in, but I am still really happy to get the official word. We are so excited for our third trip to Harpoon, and can't wait for the contest!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Grilling On The Bay

Judged at Grilling on the Bay yesterday in Brooklyn. I had some really good food, some not so good food and overall it was a good time.

I'll put up a detailed post about my judging experience in a couple days. Congrats to Brendan and Julie Burek of Transformer BBQ who won grand champions of the event!