This past Saturday was the first BBQ competition of the year for us, and the second one that I’ve ever done. It was at Q’ing for Life, a new event put on by WALDA, a non-profit organization that is raising awareness for organ donation. The competition is sanctioned by the Canadian Southern BBQ Association (CSBBQA) – and is part of their Amateur Virtual Circuit – they have 7 qualifying amateur competitions, and the 3 best scores are taken and totalled up for the championship. Last year, the winning team won an entry to the Patio Porkers division of the Memphis in May BBQ Competition, and road-tripped down to Memphis to compete and experience one of the biggest BBQ competitions in the world. I met them at this contest, and they’re really awesome people and I look forward to competing against them a few more times this year!
The amateur competition format is 2 meats: chicken, and ribs (usually back ribs). We did a practice cook the week before, so I had a pretty good schedule written out and I knew when I was going to put things on, when I was going to sauce, and when they would be done.
Chicken took about 2 hours to cook. I noticed that most of the other teams were cooking whole chickens, and we cut ours down into drumsticks, thighs, and breasts/wings. I got them all cut up and prepped, then brined them for an hour. I had chicken cooking on the bottom rack of my drum, as I didn’t have enough space on the top rack. This made it a pain to juggle the two racks, and towards the end had a pretty big temperature spike. We managed to get it all done, and I was really happy with the way everything looked. Then, tragedy struck, as just when we were taking the pieces off the BBQ, I flipped one of the thighs onto the ground. Good thing I only needed to turn in 6 pieces!
I was really happy with the way our chicken turned out. I had made some adjustments from the practice cook, and they paid off, as we ended up with a 476/500 total on chicken – which is a score I’m really proud of. Special thanks go to my buddy Heavy D, who gave me some insight into proper chicken prep when we were both at the Listowel competition last year.
Ribs took about 4 hours, and were rubbed, wrapped after 2 hours, then sauced for about 30 minutes. The whole time I was struggling with the ribs. When I got them, one rack still had huge pieces of chime bone in between each rib bone, and I had to really dig in and carve them out of there. That rack ended up looking like a mess, but after it was cooked, it didn’t look too bad. Juggling chicken and ribs on both racks of my drum was a headache, and resulted in my cooker shooting up over 300 degrees for a good 15-20 minutes towards the end of my cook. This has a really negative effect on the tenderness of the ribs, and caused them to tighten up a lot more than I would have liked. Then when I went to cut them, I mangled a few, and barely had 6 decent looking pieces to go into the box.
The good news is that we still ended up getting a 459/500 on ribs. Our taste scores were pretty good, but we took a few hits on tenderness and appearance. So I know my taste profile is good, we just have to make sure we don’t let the temp jump up next time, and do a better job when cutting them.
The preparation paid off, and we won 1st overall in the amateur competition, with a total score of 935/1000. We won a wicked trophy with a pig on top (now I feel like a proper fat guy), a championship banner, and my favourite part: a 22 inch Weber Smokey Mountain! I’ve always wanted one of these, but didn’t have the $ for one, so this was a pretty sweet prize. All of our gear barely fits into our hatchback, so we had to go back the next day to pick this up.
We had a really awesome time at the event. WALDA really took care of us: a hot breakfast to welcome us, coffee and ice delivery, and even garbage pickup! We met some cool people on the other teams, and it was just a great day.
As a bonus, we also got to see a whole hog competition – and the presentation on some of them was just unreal!
Many thanks to WALDA and the CSBBQA for running the event, Sean/Tabitha/Jules/Dwayne for the early morning hooch, and to everyone who was a part of it. An extra special thanks to my wife Jeannie, who had awesome team shirts made for us, and volunteered to help when my brother who was supposed to come out originally couldn’t make it. There’s no way we would have done as well if she wasn’t helping!
Can’t wait to get out to the next one!
- June 16 – Beach BBQ and Brews Festival
- July 20 – Maitland River BBQ Championships
- July 27 – Friendly Fires Kawartha
- August 18 – Linsday Amateur (possibly)
- Sept 21 – Belle River (just waiting for details, then we’re signing up to get in our 3rd qualifying competition for the CSBBQA AVC)
I’m also travelling down to Wilson, NY this Friday / Saturday to Crossbroder Blues, Brews, & Que. Dave from Heavy D has been gracious enough let me come down to watch how a full pro KCBS competition is done. I’m excited to be able to have such a great learning experience, and I’ll be paying a lot of attention to see what is involved.