Last weekend was crammed full of BBQ stuff – Friday & Saturday were spent at Blues, Brews & Que in Wilson, NY with Heavy D, learning how a pro competition works. I came back Saturday night, and got right to work packing our gear in the car, and finishing up sauce and rub prep. We had signed up for the amateur BBQ competition at the Beach BBQ & Brews Festival in Toronto, ON at Woodbine Park, and had to be there at 9am the next morning.
We didn’t get off to the greatest start that day. We were told to be there at 9am sharp for load in, and when we got there, no one was around that knew what was going on with the competition. We didn’t hear from anyone until 9:30 am. Did I mention it was pouring rain? We managed to get our shelter up without getting completely soaked. Then we noticed that it was starting to leak a bit – gotta make sure that I treat it with seam sealer. Luckily the rain stopped just before noon, which was nice because it was Father’s day, and my dad, little brothers, and another friend were going to come hang out with us while we did the competition.
Once we got setup, we went to the cooks meeting. Again, things seemed a bit disorganized (it turned out that the person who was supposed to be running the competition bailed, so the organizers were kind of winging it). They didn’t seem to be very clear on how turn in worked, or how judging worked. Either way, that doesn’t affect how we were going to cook, so that’s what we focused on.
For this competition we were only cooking 2 racks of back ribs, and we got them at about 10 to 12. I wanted to get them on around 12:30-12:45, so I could pull them at around 4:30-4:45 and turn them in for 5. I got the membrane off, got rub on them and then let them sit for a little while to let the rub flavour get into the meat. Then I let them cook around 225f – 2 hours of smoke, 1 hour wrapped, then 1 more hour unwrapped after basting with the foil juices, and then sauce for the last 30 minutes. Everything went pretty much on autopilot (other than breaking 2 thermometers and dropping our grill onto the charcoal basket), and it felt like we were doing nothing when compared to having to juggle both ribs and chicken at the same time.
At the last competition I let my cooker temp get away from me, and we paid the price for that with our tenderness scores for ribs. This time, I kept it under control, and the ribs turned out much better than before. I was really happy with the way they turned out. I might have wanted them to be a tiny bit more tender, but the taste and look of them was really good.
We turned in our box, and then waited for the results. Third place went to our friends in Uncle Ritchies Hillbilly BBQ, second place went to You Don’t Make Friends With Salad (hahaha best team name!), and we took first place!
We ended up getting a nice trophy, and another smoker: a Napoleon Apollo AS200K. I’ve got a drum and a Weber Smokey Mountain, so I ended up selling this one to a friend who was looking to get into smoking foods. That money ended up going right back into cooking tools – replacing some broken things, and slowly building up the equipment we would need to do a pro competition.
Our next competition is July 20th at the Maitland River BBQ Championships in Listowel, ON – and for us it will be the second CSBBQA event that will count towards our AVC score. Most of the Ottawa area teams have 3 scores now, and we won’t have our third until the last event of the year at Belle River and we’re hoping to make it come down to that last one to decide it!