Monday, September 6, 2010

Results: A Taste of Tanger

I decided to enter the "A Taste of Tanger" bbq competition at the last minute because it was going to be the last event of the season, plus it was to benefit the Babylon Breast Cancer Coalition. I felt like this event had significant meaning to me because my mother is currenlty battling breast cancer. Due to the fact that it was Labor Day Weekend and I knew that most people had plans, I didn't ask my team members to join this event with me. I wanted to challenge myself and see how I would do on my own.

Upon arrival at the Tanger Outlets in Deer Park on Saturday morning, I was greeted by NOTHING. No sitemap, no sites, no electric, no water, no greywater station, nothing. If it wasn't for two other brethren that were there with the same confused look that I had, I would've thought I was at the wrong place or the event had been cancelled without notice. When the organizer finally arrived, all of the kinks were worked out and I was placed between the Blazzin Butts and the Babylon Grillbillies. The only remaining problem was the hurricane force winds that were whipping through the parking lot.

On Saturday was the Grilling Competition. The teams each had to turn in a grilled entree and a grilled dessert. The entree turn in time was at 12:00 and the dessert turn in time was at 1:00. The teams were able to grill anything, as long as it was grilled, and there were 6 portions to be judged.

I decided to make sliders for the grilled entree. Who doesn't enjoy a good slider? I bought 80/20 chop meat and seasoned it with my regular blend of spices and added little pieces of cheddar cheese to the chop meat and made mini burgers. I topped the sliders with a thick piece of cheddar cheese and a slice of maple bacon that I drizzled with honey. On the side of each burger was a bun with a burger set that included leafy lettuce, a slice of red onion, 2 slices of tomato and 3 pickle chips.

For the grilled dessert, I made peaches and cream. I never made this before, nor have I even tried it, so this was all new to me. I made my own whipped cream using sugar and heavy cream. For the peaches, I sliced them, remove the pit, coated them with olive oil, added some brown sugar and placed them on the grill face down over indirect heat and let them cook for about a half hour. When they were done, they were very soft and had a beautiful grilled appearance to them. Here is where I went wrong. I added the whipped cream as the topping, drizzled on honey, added some chopped pecans and a little brown sugar. The problem is that the peaches were still hot and the whipped cream started to melt immediately. By the time I got the turn in box to the judges, the whipped cream was probably all melted and the pecans were floating in the peach. Oh well, I know for the next time.

I spent the rest of Saturday afternoon with the family members that came to visit and prepping all of my food that will be used for Sunday's bbq competition. It was nice to spend some time with the family after being alone most of the morning. Even Santa Frank stopped by and took a picture with us.

Since this was a non-sanctioned event, the turn in times for the bbq competition were as follows: chicken at 12:00, ribs at 12:45, pork at 1:30 and brisket at 2:15. The fact that the turn in times were spaced 45 minutes apart was another factor in why I decided to do this competition alone. The standard 30 minute interval turn ins for KCBS sanctioned events is a little more difficult. My mom came on Sunday morning to help me with some prep and cleaning and was a big help.

Things were going very smoothly for a one man team. I got my chicken in on time and got back to my site and knew that I had 45 minutes before the ribs needed to be turned in. I wanted to let them sit a little longer and not slice and plate them too early in fear that they would get cold so I waited. I even did an interview for the event. At some point I took out my ribs and already knew which rack I was going to slice and turn in. I cleaned off the thumbnails and started to slice the rack. I had 8 perfect ribs for the turn in box. Then something happened that will haunt the both of us for the rest of our lives. My mother questioned me about something about the ribs and I began to second guess myself about the ribs that I wanted to use. HUGE MISTAKE. Not realizing that I was running out of time, I decided to cut the other 3 racks and take the 8 best ribs from all of the racks combined. Next thing I know, the guy from the team next door comes over and says to me, do you realize you're late? It was 12:52. For a turn in, you get 5 minutes before and 5 minutes after the actual turn in time for a 10 minute window. In reality, 12:50:01 is considered late. I quickly threw 8 ribs in the box and was about to take off with them when the head judge came over to see what happened and let me know that I was disqualified from the rib turn in. I was so disappointed! I really wanted to pack up and go home at that point. I worked so hard on those ribs. I spent hours prepping, injecting, rubbing, smoking, saucing, cooling and cutting those ribs. They came out great. I know I would've taken first place in ribs. Everyone who tried them told me they were the best ribs ever. I even thought they were great, and I am my own harshest critic.

Anyway, after giving myself a minute, I eventually calmed down and focused on the next two turn ins for the pork and the beef brisket. I've done pretty well in my first two competitions in the pork category, so I tried to do the same things and not change too much. In the pork turn in box, I put in a large portion of pulled pork and 6 portions of money muscle. I was so nervous about being late again that I actually got the entry to the judges table early and had to wait for them to take it.  When I got back to my site I decided to cut and plate my beef brisket, then add the burnt ends to the box right before I was going to turn it in. Again, the 45 minutes screwed me up. I sliced the brisket too early and there was too much time between the turn in. When I opened the box to put the burnt ends in, the sliced brisket was dry and dead. Because there wasn't enough time to cut more, I slapped some bbq sauce on the brisket, threw the burnt ends in the box and took off. Luckily, I was able to get the box to the turn in table on time, but I was really disappointed in my beef.

If I could rate my 4 categories based on my own preference it would be ribs, pork, chicken, beef.

On Sunday afternoon, they announce the winners. At this point I was completely exhausted from being up since 5am on Saturday morning, pulling an all-nighter, working my ass of on Sunday, then having to break down and pack up all of my equipment. I was still in a really bad mood about the ribs and didn't think I was going to win anything and I just wanted to go home and go to sleep. But instead of being a sore loser I went to the award ceremony.

After a long speach thanking everyone, they began to announce the winners. For the grilling competition they only announced 3rd place, 2nd place and 1st place for the Grilled Entree and Grilled Dessert, then Grilling Overall. The first announcement was for the Grilled Entree. First place Grilled Entree: The Smoke 'N Barrel. When they announced my team name, I couldn't believe it. My wife, mother and step-father all screamed like lunatics. It was a great moment. I was no longer annoyed about the ribs. I didn't do too well in the Grilled Dessert, but I took 2nd place in Grilling Overall. For the 1st place grilled entree, I won a cash prize. For the 2nd place grilling overall, I won a smaller cash prize and an engraved cutting board.

After announcing the grilling winners, it was time to announce the bbq winners. For the bbq competition they announced 6th place thru 1st place for Chicken, Ribs, Pork and Beef, then Overall. First up was chicken, no calls in chicken. Next up was ribs, no call in ribs because of the DQ. Then came pork, 2nd place pork: The Smoke 'N Barrel. Once again, I was shocked and the family screamed. I went up to collect another cutting board and check. Finally, the last category was beef. Fifth place beef: The Smoke 'N Barrel. Again, I was completely shocked and the family screamed.

When I went to the stage to pick up my award, the head judge asked me if he could tell the crowd what happened. I said sure. He said, "Unfortunately, James was late turning in his ribs and was disqualified from that category. But for a one man team, he has done an excellent job." That made me feel pretty good and was nice of him to share that.

Finally, they announced the overall winners. And the Grand Champions are: The Blazzin' Butts. This team was my next door neighbors and I am glad that they won. They were the nicest people I have met in the bbq community and they deserved the win.

After the award ceremony, I was in a really good mood. I was called 4 times and took 1st place Grilled Entree, 2nd place Grilling Overall, 2nd place Pork and 5th place Beef. I had 4 envelopes with money and 2 new engraved cutting boards to add to my trophy collection. I went up to the head judge to ask him if I get an engraved cutting board for 1st place Grilled Entree and he said no, they didn't do cutting boards for Grilled Entree and Grilled Dessert, just Grilling Overall.

Here is where I wanted to kill myself. The head judge said to me, "do you know that if you would've placed in the top 10 in ribs, you would've been the Grand Champion today?" My heart sank. I almost wish he didn't tell me that because it really stung. I know my ribs were excellent. If I didn't get disqualified, there is no doubt in my mind that I would've placed top 10 in ribs, if not 1st place. That GC belongs to me but instead I finished dead last overall. It took some time to get over it, but I have and I'm happy with the results from this event. For a one man team, I did pretty good. It let's some of these guys out there know that I am a force to be reckoned with. It also tells me that bbq is something that I can do on my own. I enjoy it, I am good at it, and I will continue to do it. Now that the bbq season has ended, I have all winter to practice. I will not be changing a thing when it comes to  my pork and ribs. I have some modifications that I need to make with my beef and I need to completely figure out how I can beat my arch-nemesis, chicken.

So, what did I learn this weekend. I learned very valuable lessons. 1st, make sure that there a clock on site that clearly displays the accurate time. Don't rely on the cell phone time. 2nd, always stick with my gut instinct. I know which rack I wanted to use and I should've used that rack. 3rd, and most importantly, I am the boss, the pitmaster. I know what I am doing, and I make all final decisions. Do not be concerned about what other teams are doing or what team members are saying. I am in full control. Never give up control!

All in all, I think I did pretty good for myself this season. I got into the competition bbq scene late in the game and competed in only 3 events, 2 as the Smoke 'N Barrel and 1 as a member of Ma's Que Crew. I competed against teams that have been doing this for a long time and have a lot of practice and wins under their belts. Now that the season is over, I will continue to work in the backyard to perfect my skills. I know that this is something that I am going to continue to do and someday I will be the Grand Champion.

Here are the overall results:


1 Bark Burners

2 BBQ Brethren

3 Baldwin Butt Burners

4 Smoking Aces

5 Ma's Que Crew

6 Pit Posse

7 Blazzing Buttz

8 TNT Dynamite BBQ

9 Jacked Up BBQ

10 Queer Eye for the BBQ Guy

11 Smoking Irish

12 Team Big Barry

13 Smoke 'N Barrel

14 Babylon Grillbillies

15 2 Old Men and a Smoker


1 Baldwin Butt Burners

2 Ma's Que Crew

3 TNT Dynamite BBQ

4 Blazzing Buttz

5 Jacked Up BBQ

6 BBQ Brethren

7 Smoking Irish

8 Pit Posse

9 Babylon Grillbillies

10 Bark Burners

11 Smoking Aces

12 Queer Eye for the BBQ Guy

13 Team Big Barry

14 2 Old Men and a Smoker

15 Smoke 'N Barrel


1 TNT Dynamite BBQ

2 Smoke 'N Barrel

3 Baldwin Butt Burners

4 Smoking Aces

5 Bark Burners

6 Babylon Grillbillies

7 Jacked Up BBQ

8 2 Old Men and a Smoker

9 Blazzing Buttz

10 Queer Eye for the BBQ Guy

11 BBQ Brethren

12 Pit Posse

13 Ma's Que Crew

14 Smoking Irish

15 Team Big Barry


1 Blazzing Buttz

2 Ma's Que Crew

3 Jacked Up BBQ

4 Babylon Grillbillies

5 Smoke 'N Barrel

6 Smoking Irish

7 TNT Dynamite BBQ

8 Pit Posse

9 Queer Eye for the BBQ Guy

10 2 Old Men and a Smoker

11 BBQ Brethren

12 Team Big Barry

13 Baldwin Butt Burners

14 Bark Burners

15 Smoking Aces


1 Blazzing Buttz

2 TNT Dynamite BBQ

3 Baldwin Butt Burners

4 Ma's Que Crew

5 Jacked Up BBQ

6 BBQ Brethren

7 Pit Posse

8 Babylon Grillbillies

9 Bark Burners

10 Smoking Irish

11 Queer Eye for the BBQ Guy

12 Smoking Aces

13 2 Old Men and a Smoker

14 Team Big Barry

15 Smoke 'N Barrel

1 comment:

  1. James, You are a hell of a competitor! To pull an all nighter and still put together what you did was very impressive from my point of view.
    "Things" happened and you still took your best foot forward. It says alot of your character. I'll be sure to stop when we compete again.
    Congrats on all your success this weekend

    Frank Sacco
    Blazin' Buttz BBQ