Last weekend we went to our last BBQ competition of the year in Belle River, Ontario which was made up of 13 amateur teams, and 4 whole hog teams. This was our 6th competition of the year, and our 4th CSBBQA sanctioned amateur competition and was run by Jules from Roast n Toast BBQ and the Knights of Columbus. It was about 3 hours away from us, but luckily we were able to stay with a friend of Jeannie’s the night before which helped a lot.Going into this competition we were only 1 point out of first place for the CSBBQA amateur virtual circuit. I felt like we had a good chance of moving into first place, but I kept reminding myself that anything can happen in the world of BBQ competitions, as I had seen many different times. I went through my notes and planned out my cooking timeline as always, then got all my sauces and rubs made and ready to go.
We made the drive out towards Windsor where we were staying on Friday night. Halfway through we hit some pretty serious weather in the form of a torrential downpour. I couldn’t help but think of the pros who were already out there cooking whole hog – hopefully they were already fully setup and out of the rain!
Even though we were staying close by, we still had to get up pretty early to get there, get setup, and make it to the 7:30 am cook’s meeting. When we got there, Marc from Sibling Rivalry mentioned that there had been a mix up and that we were going to be cooking side ribs instead of back ribs. So much for the timeline I had!
I’ve cooked plenty of side ribs (coincidentally, I took some pictures the week before of the breakdown of side ribs into St. Louis cut ribs for a post on here), so I wasn’t too worried about trimming them, more about cooking them. Typically I would cook them at 225f, for 3 hours, then 2 hours in foil, then 1 hour uncovered again. However, at this competition, I didn’t have 6 hours to cook, especially once I added in prep time. I decided to cook at 250-275f which I’ve never really done before, and settled on a time of 2 and a half hours on smoke, an hour and a half in foil, then a few minutes out of smoke to let the sauce set.
I also shortened my cooking time on my chicken as well, as I was doing both meats on the same smoker, since I only bring the one with me. When it came time for turn ins, I had a bad feeling about the way the chicken turned out. I think I over seasoned it, and the texture was off. I was pretty happy with ribs, although I had trouble getting clean cuts on the side ribs (definitely something to practice) and that hurt us on our appearance scores.
In the end, my gut was right. We got a decent score on chicken, with a 5th out of 13, and a good score on ribs, with a 3rd out of 13, good enough for 2nd place overall with a total score of 904 points. This was good enough to drop our score of 889 from Listowel, but not enough to catch Craig from Rope a Dope, who got an awesome score of 923, giving him the AVC title, with a final score of 2753 to 2744.
The final results for the Belle River amateur competition were:
1 Place – Rope-A-Dope – 923
2 Place – MeatVentures – 904
3 Place – Uncle Richies Hillbilly BBQ – 902
4 Place – Smokin’ Legges – 898
5 Place – Sibling Rivalry – 885
6 Place – Rubbin Pat – 885
7 Place – Super BBQ Bros – 879
8 Place -Get Smoked – 864
9 Place – Vigilante BBQ – 863
10 Place – Smokin’ Aces – 856
11 Place – Big Finish BBQ – 855
12 Place – Smoked, Savory and Sensational – 843
13 Place – Smoke N Strings – 835
The final results for the whole hog competition were:
1st Place – Blowin’ Smoke – 938
2 Place – Roast’n Toast – 908
3 Place – Smokin Dough – 829
4 Place – The Black Pig – 477
The Black Pig had a rib turn in that was late by 5 seconds due to a mix up between the official clock and their own clock. Harsh, but just goes to show that anything can happen and that you’ll never be too prepared or cautious. I felt really bad for Mike and Barb, but he was the first to admit that it was their own fault for not verifying their clock against the official turn in clock. I’ve heard from a lot of different teams that it’s not if you’ll ever get disqualified at an event, but when you’ll get disqualified. After those long drives and sleepless nights, it can be tough to be 100% on your game, but that’s what it takes.
It was fun to check out the on-site judging for the whole hog teams, and I wish I took some more pictures from this competition, as the presentations these teams had set up were beautiful. I hope to eventually have something built that will be able to cook a whole hog and enter one of these whole hog competitions. The on-site judging would be nerve-wracking, but I think it’d be a fun experience.
It would have been awesome to take first place at the event and in the AVC, but I am stoked that we did well enough to take second in both. This season of competitions went well beyond my expectations, and we travelled all around Ontario, Quebec, and New York, had good times, and made some awesome new friends.
Congratulations to everyone in the CSBBQA who came out to the competitions, and a huge thanks to the tireless efforts of the few who organize these competitions, and the volunteers and judges that help them run. We’ll be back next year!