Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More On New Hampshire

Cooked the New Hampshire Rock-n-Ribfest a couple of weekends ago. I haven't written about it yet because I've been trying to block it out.

This was our first KCBS contest in 11 months, having not cooked a contest since Harpoon. There was clearly some rust involved in our pedestrian finish, but there were some crucial mistakes that didn't help either.

I'll start with grilling. We went into the grilling contest with a plan, especially for the presentations. We had taken reserve grand champions of the last two grilling contests we cooked, and part of it was based ons the presentation s we had developed for our grilling categories. However, those presentations were based on a 9 by 9 inch turn in box.

The organizers of New Hampshire, however, provided the teams with 7 by 7 inch turn in boxes. This threw us off completely, and while I know it is a meat contest, it didn't help us at all. We got two calls in the top ten, but nothing in the top 5 or in the money.

Then came the BBQ contest Sunday. The chicken came out great. I'm really pleased with my chicken overall, it's a recipe I developed myself over time and I really like the way it is working out. 4th place.

The ribs were really bland. This is unusual for me because usually my ribs are very spicy. I didn't realize just how bland they were until I had one on Monday after returning home. The tenderness was there but they were just average. 12th place I think.

The pork, long story short it was done way too early, and by the time I went to pull it the meat was really dry. An easily correctable problem. I sauced it hard and tried to mask it, but the pork ended up in 20th place.

Then came brisket. In a nutshell, I ruined the brisket. It had great flavor and the tenderness was right on, but for some reason I was dead set on saucing it. I did, and I oversauced it, and killed it. As soon as I heard that we didn't get a brisket call I knew that I had made a major mistake. Lesson learned.

In the end, it was a decent weekend. We had a good time with friends, but I have never cooked contests with the goal of coming home with a 4th place ribbon and a check for $20 as the weekend's winnings. Unfortunately will have to wait until Harpoon to improve things. But other teams take note: I'm pissed, and I'm practicing.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Max's First Rib

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Pizza ready for the grill for the grilling contest.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Cape Cod BBQ Contest

After months of planning, the BBQ contest I organized on Cape Cod has come and gone. Overall, the event was a success in my eyes, but there is plenty of room for improvement on my end as the organizer. However, I'm really happy overall, and the contest was wwell received by most of the cooking teams.

The decision to try and organize this contest really came last summer. The previous organizer had decided not to have the event, but had booked the venue, and refused to release the date so someone else could continue the long running contest. Previously known as the Peter's Pond Rib and Brisket Festival, this was one of the original BBQ events in New England. The demise of this contest was a real bummer for many cooking teams.

So, I thought this might be a good chance for me to try my hand as an organizer. The key for me was really just to have it be a BBQ contest. I had no interest in trying to land bands, face painters, craft vendors etc. I knew that would be an impossible thing to organize from 200 miles away. So I just focused on the contest.

The contest attracted 33 teams, mostly from New England, but teams from Maryland, Florida, New Jersey and Long Island also made the trip. The unique thing about this contest was that there were RV spots available for teams. I thought as a cooker myself to have access to their own water, electric, sewer and cable TV hookups would be nice, and the teams that took those spots thought it was great.

My biggest mistake was not having enough portable toilets, and mismanaging them. They had already been placed when I arrived Friday, and they were not where I wanted them to be. Instead of being together in between the contest area and the judging area, one was right on top of the contest area and the other a far walk to the other side of the judging tent. Because of this, one got major use and the other just sat there for the most part. There are real bathrooms, but a looong walk away. Next year, this situation will be rectified.

Also, I will be working with the manager at Peter's Pond on expanding the event so they can bring in more public. There is so much room to grow this event. But to me, the key will be the cook-off. Hopefully by raising the scope of the event, we can bring in some sponsors to drive up the prize pool.

Overall, this was a great experience. I tremendous amount of work and no financial gain, but I think the team who attended really appreciated the return of this contest, had a great time and will certainly return in 2011!