HutchFest 2015

Out last contest was the Hutchfest BBQ Cookoff held on the Kansas state fair grounds in Hutchinson, KS.  It was another first time contest but Ron and his crew did a good job making the cooks comfortable. The contest was in an area set up for RVs, it was on grass and pretty level. Each spot had 20, 30, and 50 amp power and there was lots of water hydrants scattered around. There was also a dump station on the grounds for those wanting to dump their tanks before hitting the road.

Each spot had electricity and water was close by.

Each spot had electricity and water was close by.

They had a very nice venue;  mostly level spots on grass and there was some shade.

They had a very nice venue; mostly level spots on grass and there was some shade.

Since the event was held over the 4th of July holiday I had suggested to Kristi that we had to make home made ice cream. She turned that into a Mexican themed pot luck dinner which drew some 25 to 30 people and represented at least 12 teams. We had tons of great food, these guys can cook more than just BBQ! And yes, I did get my home made ice cream.

Ready to enjoy a Mexican pot luck dinner!

Ready to enjoy a Mexican pot luck dinner!

We had a good group and lots of great food!

We had a good group and lots of great food!

Another shot of the dinner table.

Another shot of the dinner table.

We’re getting the new trailer dialed in and the cook went pretty smooth. We prepped and cooked everything like we normally do but for some reason the brisket came out really salty and the score showed it. We finished 12th in chicken, 13th ribs, 11th pork and 27th brisket for 27th overall.

There will be no room for mistakes next weekend when we travel to Burlington as the team list is reading like a Who’s Who of BBQ

Until next time, stay safe and remember; if the smoke coming out of your chimney smells bad, you food will taste that way too.

A very busy weekend

This past weekend we tried to get in over our head, again.

We had a wedding to cater in the Kansas City area so we thought it would be helpful to cook a contest in Abilene too. After all, it was on the way, kind of. We loaded up the trailer and away we went. We reserved the FEC 100 for the contest meats but had taken along all 3 sizes of WSMs and a UDS to cook the meats for the wedding. It was a learning experience when, after I had just dumped hot coals in the Webers, I decided I should move them a little farther from the trailer. Kneeling on a hot coal that had missed its mark left a large mark on my knee. :(

Abilene (5) Abilene (7)

 

It actually worked out well and we had all that meat pulled and cooled by midnight. In the meantime we had to get the competition meats seasoned and in the FEC 100. The little Davy Crockett was used for the dessert category.

The competition side of the trailer.

The competition side of the trailer.

We took first in dessert with a S’Mores cake, then were pleasantly surprised by getting a call for 5th place chicken. The surprises continued as we won the rib category with a perfect score! We had received some 180 scores in dessert before but this was our first in a meat category.

First place Ribs with a perfect score

First place Ribs with a perfect score

We followed that up with a 7th place pork;

7th place pork

7th place pork

I was really happy with our brisket but we didn’t get a call. As they started counting down the top ten overall we started wondering if our brisket was so bad it really pulled us down or just missed a call. Well, it was 11th and we ended up being Grand Champions!

Wheatstock Grill-Off Grand Champions

Wheatstock Grill-Off Grand Champions

The weather had held off until the middle of awards when it started pouring rain. Fortunately we had everything packed but still had to drive from Abilene to just east of Lawrence in the rain and wind. We got to Kansas City, parked the trailer, and made it to the rehearsal dinner in time for dessert. Luckily we were just guests for that.

On Sunday we reheated the meat and cooked the sides for some 160 wedding guests. I know several made more than one trip through the line which is always a good sign. We were too busy to get any pictures but everything went well. It was about 10pm by the time we were finished, so back to the Edwardsville PD where we left the trailer again.

The next morning we stopped and visited with my sister, picked up the Bobeque and headed for home. Luckily the Kansas wind was only gusting to 23mph going through the Flint Hills.

A busy, but very successful weekend. A special THANK YOU to the Edwardsvilled PD for letting us park our trailer there. (They were well compensated, comp leftovers ya know)

Congratulations to Ian and Amber Elder!!

 

The American Royal 2013

It was probably in our first year of competing in KCBS sanctioned barbecue contests that we decided we would not go to the American Royal until we earned an invite. To earn a spot in the invitational, a team must win a grand championship at a qualifying contest between August 1st and July 31st of the preceding year. We won our first grand championship in September this year, which means we will get to attend the 2014 American Royal Invitational.
A couple weeks ago we were approached about helping spread the word about Operation BBQ Relief at this year’s Royal, and of course we were happy to help support such a great cause. Plans were made and we headed out around 6am Friday morning. We got parked and met one of the group at the gate for our wristbands and we were at The Royal for the first time ever! After we met up with the group we had a little time to explore, so we started looking up some of our friends that were there. We got there just in time to participate in good luck shots with our friends at site of Kelly of 4 Legs Up.
The first thing that we noticed is that it is a maze of cookers. There were about 175 teams cooking the invitational, and I’m guessing that half of the additional 400 teams there for the open contest were already in their spots. There were alleys between the rows of cook teams, some were open on both ends and some were dead ends. And none were marked. But this isn’t their first year so there are several signs with all the teams and which spot they are in, along with a map to help you find your way. It would have been helpful to have one of those “You are here” X marks the spot kind of thing on each map, but one could find a nearby spot number and go off of that. With teams packed in an area covering approximately 20 acres it’s not hard to lose your way.

We grabbed several packets of stickers, pamphlets, and temporary tattoos and headed out to spread the word about OBR. We did figure out that the contestant turn in area is on Beef Run when we saw some of our friends with their entries:

Contestants making their way to the turn in area for judging on Beef Run

Contestants making their way to the turn in area for judging on Beef Run

We also got a shot of the turn in area inside. We have seen pictures and this area will be filled on Sunday when 500 teams are getting their food turned in during that magic 10 minute window.

the turn in area.

the turn in area.

We stayed out of Lot B since that is where most of the invitational participants are located and hit as many of the other spots as we could. It pays to keep your eyes open as you’re walking around, in the North Lot was a team called Motley Que who had a special guest visiting; Guy Fieri! We didn’t go talk to him but one of our friends got his picture taken with Guy later in the day. One of the barbecue celebrities we did get to meet was Myron Mixon. Although he always seems to be very grouchy on TV, he was as nice as could be to us :) We also met Dionn and Gary Lanton who were on season 3 of BBQ Pitmasters, as well as Brad Orrisan and Daddy-O from The Shed BBQ joint and who have a TV show.

Myron Mixon

Myron Mixon

We also saw several other of the TV Pitmasters, including Danielle with DivaQ, Johnny Trigg, Chris Lilly, Rod Gray, Lynnae Oxley, and David Butcher. Of course we have competed against some of them before, a couple on a regular basis, and are friends with David. We were no less thrilled to see some of our usual friends; JP, Chad & Nicole, Scot & Rocky, Stuart, Robbie & Jessica, Bryan & Chilly Willy, Brian & MaryAnn, Frank, Stan & Amy, Will, Travis, Richard & Kathy, Fast Eddy, all those whom I’m forgetting get my apologies, and especially Marc who looks much better than the last time we saw him.
We met and talked with many other fine folks in our travels, including a Pitt State grad who we learned graduated from the School of Business the same year I graduated with my nursing degree. Many people are familiar with OBR and we fielded lots of questions from cookers who would like to get involved. All in all, I think is was 3 hours well spent, although by the time we were done our feet were in disagreement :( Here are a few pictures I took of some of the grounds;

American Royal 2013 009

Looking north on Party Angle West.

American Royal 2013 008

The Royal Tunnel.

American Royal 2013 010

Looking north-east on Single Malt Way


We even saw one of the event volunteers sporting one of our tattoos!
A Royal volunteer showing off her OBR tattoo

A Royal volunteer showing off her OBR tattoo


We took a little time to explore the Expo Hall where we ran into more friends; Karen and Dave from Cookshack, Don from Yoder Smokers, and Shannon from Fire Bug Grilling Sauce. Inside the hall were several vendors and displays, and bounce houses for the children. There was also a petting zoo for the kids. Outside was a stage with bands performing live music.
A shot inside the Expo Hall

A shot inside the Expo Hall


One of the things I noticed as we walked around was the type of smokers different teams were using. Of course I didn’t do any kind of count, but it seemed like there were as many Weber Smokey Mountain smokers there as all the others combined. Some teams had as many as 6 of the WSMs. Also well represented were the Good-One smokers. From there it was a mixture of about every smoker made, including many that were home made.
We had to leave before the party got started, but are already looking forward to being there next year! We got to talk to several of our barbecue family Saturday and next year we’ll be spending 3 or 4 days with them.

McPherson Scottish Highland Games 2013

As I start today’s blog there is laundry going and a trailer and smokers waiting to be cleaned from a busy weekend, but one of our favorite events of the year. It was the last weekend of September which means…….. McPherson Scottish Highland Games!
This is our fifth year feeding the athletes and each year it gets harder to uphold our reputation. The athletes and staff always say that lunch is one of the things they look forward to the most at Mac. We enjoy spending time with them and have become good friends with several. Besides, we get to set up on the field and have the best seat in the house once we get time to watch.
We have watched these folks perform the events many times and have developed the utmost respect for their athletic ability. There is nothing easy about these games! They require a combination of strength, technique and timing that rivals any other professional sport.
One that often makes me a little nervous is the Weight Over Bar competition. The athletes swing a weight over a bar positioned behind them and I always worry about one getting hit on top of their head. I guess that’s the nurse coming out. In this photo you see Terri just after the weight has left her hand:

Weight Over Bar

Weight Over Bar

As we all know; what goes up, must come down. So far we haven’t seen anyone get bonked on the head, thankfully!
Another event for height is the Sheath toss, where the athletes use a pitchfork to toss a straw filled burlap bag over a bar. Here one of the contestants has tossed the sheath and has already brought his fork back down while the sheath is on its way up:

Sheath toss

Sheath toss

Some of these guys were throwing over 30 feet high with a 22 pound sheath!
One of the hallmarks of the games is the caber toss. Here Terri is set to toss the caber:

Our friend Terri as she tosses the caber

Our friend Terri as she tosses the caber

Of note is the fact the she was photobombed by her husband in the background. He’s the one in the green shirt with the camera :)
The athletes compete in 9 events, many times there are at least 4 events going on simultaneously as the athletes are split into different groups based on sex, age, and experience. Here I caught a caber in midair while I was taking a picture of a sheath in the air:

A caber and sheath sharing airspace

A caber and sheath sharing airspace

For the second year the announcer was Francis Brebner, a true Scotsman who competed in Highland games for 18 years and still holds 2 World Records. Although Francis has lived in California for the last ten years he still has a thick Scottish accent which makes you listen carefully so that you can understand what he is saying. Although he has retired from competitive Highland gaming, Francis still puts on coaching clinics, judges, serves as an announcer at games all over the world, and is an author.

Francis Brebner

Francis Brebner

Francis is a true gentleman and we looked forward to getting to see him again. We were also a little nervous as we were attempting a traditional Scottish dish of Haggis, Tatties and Neeps to feed a Scot. After lunch he gave us a thumbs up so we knew we did OK. Many of the athletes had never eaten Haggis but did try it. We had lots of comments along the lines of “It wasn’t as bad as I expected”, or “It was actually pretty good”. We even had some come back for seconds. Now just in case you go Google Haggis, I did not prepare it in the traditional manner or even use traditional ingredients. But it’s my understanding that many in Scotland don’t prepare it that way anymore either.

Haggis

Haggis

We always try to feed the athletes a combination of proteins and carbohydrates, Sunday’s lunch was; from far to near: rib tips, smoked Mac&Cheese, tatties and neeps. Not in the pictures was the Haggis, barbecue beans, and ham.

Part of Sunday's lunch

Part of Sunday’s lunch

And around the corner was the fruit salad, brownies and home made ice cream. There’s always room for dessert!

Dessert

Dessert

And a couple pictures of the serving line and the athletes enjoying the food:

The serving line

The serving line

Lunch break

Lunch break

The weekend was a success not only from our standpoint, but they could not have asked for better weather and the athletes set several records during the 2 day event. For more pictures, check out our friend Larry’s page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pioneer-Photography/146925568684529
Next weekend we will be spending a day at the American Royal helping to promote one of our passions, Operation Barbecue Relief. We’ll also be checking out the event as we will be competing there next year.
After that we’ll have a couple more competitions, then hopefully start teaching some classes over the winter.
Thanks for reading,
Greg

Hay Capital BBQ Cook Off

This past weekend we attended the 5th Annual Hay Capital BBQ Cook Off in Yates Center, Kansas. We were one of the charter members that were at their first contest and have not missed one since. We enjoy going there, they like the teams and take care of us. Free electric and ice, indoor bathrooms, showers and other amenities add to the fun.
This year they added something new and did a sponsor dinner, where people from the community get fed by a competition team in return for a donation to the contest. We had 8 guests for supper and enjoyed visiting with them. They seemed pleased with the food, and this was reinforced on Saturday when the organizer said they have already requested us for next year!
Adding to the fun of the weekend, we were accompanied by David and Aquila who were doing their cook that will enable them to become certified KCBS Master Judges. They got to experience most of what a competition team goes through; they were there at noon Friday, slept in their car next to us and were back up at 5am to finish the day. They gained a new appreciation of what the cooks put in to those 6 pieces of meat that the judges sample.

And if all that wasn’t enough, Kristi’s Naughty Nurses 2nd Shift came out of retirement to cook as a separate team to help the organizer reach the necessary 25 teams. So to recap, we were cooking for guests Friday night, teaching a couple about competition barbecue, and cooking as separate teams. Whew, busy weekend.

The sponsor dinner was really fairly easy, we cooked  Moinks as an appetizer and the main meal consisted of pork loin, garlic mashed potatoes and corn. For dessert we finished it off with home made cobbler that Aquila made and ice cream. Left over cobbler and ice cream were enjoyed again Saturday by us and some of our neighbors after we were done with turn-ins.

Once that was done we split up with boys vs girls for the competition. But we did remain on friendly terms and even helped each other out when needed, just like we would a new team. Kristi and Aquila got the FEC100 and David and I used WSMs. We both followed our normal recipes for the most part, though we did experiment a little which ended up with some interesting things learned.For example, the ONLY thing different with our chicken entries was the cooker and fuel: pellets vs charcoal. Kristi came in 13th and Greg won the category:

1st place Chicken!

1st place Chicken!

Our ribs ended up on the same table and the judges didn’t like either one of us.
But in the pork category, Kristi came in 6th;

6th place Pork

6th place Pork

And Greg took second;

2nd place Pork

2nd place Pork

Those places were reversed in the brisket category, with Greg taking 5th place;

5th place Brisket

5th place Brisket

And Kristi took second!

2nd place Brisket

2nd place Brisket

In the end, Kristi finished 10th overall out of the 25 teams and Greg, with the help of Kristi, David and Aquila brought home our first ever Grand Champion!!

Grand Champion!

Grand Champion!

We were very excited to say the least. After we came close a few times the last couple years, we get a Reserve Grand Champion followed by Grand Champion the next week! Kristi’s hands were shaking as she filled out the paperwork that will be sent in to reserve our spot in the American Royal Invitational. We have always said we would not go the the Royal until we could do the invitational, now we’ll be there in October 2014! The other thing we should get is a chance to be drawn for the Jack Daniels Invitational. For The Jack, the winner of every qualifying contest gets a chance to get their name drawn. Getting your ‘bung’ pulled is the highlight for many teams. Of course we could just win 6 more contests between now and next July and get and automatic bid!
We didn’t have much time to visit friends, but it was good to see them again none the less. We also met some new friends and hope to see them again on the barbecue trail.

Our next event will be in McPherson where we’ll spend the weekend with our Scottish Highland friends.

2013 National Bar-B-Que Derby

This past weekend was another first time contest for us, and another that was marking their first year as a KCBS sanctioned contest. This time we were in Derby Kansas for the National Bar-B-Que Derby.
The contest was held in High Park, a picturesque city park on the east side of town. There is a small lake, a runway for remote controlled airplanes, indoor bathrooms and a stage, among other amenities. The only thing I can find to complain about was everything sloped towards the lake, and I didn’t have enough of the right thickness of shims to level everything we had outside. Otherwise, the venue was fantastic! The City of Derby went above and beyond to meet the needs of the cookers. There were several electrical boxes and at least 2 water “trees” each with 4 hose connections. Next year we’ll take our mister and take advantage of one of those if it’s this hot again!.
They had 10 ‘backyard’ teams and 35 professional teams. I heard they had more teams wanting to come but had to stop taking entries at 35 due to space limitations. Not a bad problem to have when many contests are struggling to get teams there.
We set up next to Brian and MaryAnn who are Smoke N Hogs BBQ KS. Friday we went for a late lunch with them to Kristi’s favorite eatery, Freddy’s. Later we all had pizza and home made ice cream along with some libations to help combat the heat. 100° is not unheard of, but still is unusual for this time of year.
Saturday morning we shared customary good luck shots with our barbecue friends, then worked on getting meats ready for People’s Choice and KCBS turn ins.
For the People’s Choice each time was assigned a helper since it was done during turn in time. Our helper was a young lady named Allee and we enjoyed having her as our helper. We gave her some samples of our chicken and ribs, she said she’s not much of a barbecue eater but really liked the chicken and said the ribs were the best she’d every had! Hmmmm, maybe I should have given her some pork and brisket too?
Saturday was another 100° day but we made it through turn ins and worked on getting stuff packed away, taking frequent breaks to cool off and hydrate.
When it came time for awards, we got a call for 2nd place in chicken!

2nd Place Chicken

2nd Place Chicken

Followed by another call for 2nd place Ribs, much to our surprise.

2nd Place Ribs

2nd Place Ribs

No calls in pork or brisket really made us nervous. As they started announcing the top 10 overall, we waited to hear our name. By the time they announced 4th place without hearing our name I looked at Kristi and commented; “either out pork and brisket were really close or really sucked”. It turns out they were both in the middle of the pack.
I wish I could have seen our faces when they announce Reserve Grand Champion; Naughty Nurses BBQ! Our highest finish to date. Talk about excited!

National Bar-B-Que Derby Reserve Grand Champions

National Bar-B-Que Derby
Reserve Grand Champions

Congratulations to our friends Little Pig Town for Grand Champs!

Next up will be Yates Center KS where we hope to improve on last years 3rd place finish.

Thanks again to those whose products help make this possible: Cookshack, JPCustom Smoke, Butcher BBQ

Moore OK, May 2013

Sunday morning we rolled into the Operation BBQ Relief site located at the Hillsdale Free Will Baptist Bible College about a mile south of the tornado’s path. This is Kristi and my 3rd deployment with OBR after a tornado so we were familiar with what was going to happen and went right to work.

We unloaded the supplies we had purchased with the donations of our friends, then Kristi was put in charge of the line that filled orders for pre-packaged individual meals and I was put in charge of keeping inventory of food that was ready to be distributed. Our friends Sam and Brian that went along were also put right to work as there is always something that needs to be done. After a busy lunch, we cleaned and got ready to do it all again. Meat had to come off the smoker and be prepared for serving and fresh meat needed to be prepped to go on the smokers.

We finally got to bed a little after midnight and were up again bright and early the next morning for day 2. Ribs needed to be seasoned and put on the smoker for a special Memorial Day meal for victims hosted by the University of Oklahoma. Then we worked on stocking OBR’s new concession trailer as we were the lucky ones who got to take her out for her maiden voyage. We set up the trailer in the drive of Plaza Towers Elementary school and offered a hot, nutritious meal to those cleaning up as well as those who were there to protect. We were assisted by our good friends Terri, Caelyn and Larry who have helped us several times with people’s choice events.  A couple of us walked through the local neighborhoods telling people about OBR and directing them to our trailer for a meal. We serve meals rich in protein and carbohydrates because these people are working hard and need to keep their energy up. It’s also amazing how much a hot meal can raise their spirits!     A mother/daughter team from Indiana stopped by and asked if they could help, by the time we finished for the day they had made a half dozen or so trips out into the neighborhoods with meals to hand out to those in need. We had never met them before, but we won’t forget them.

Set up next to us was a group called Raise Some Hope (www.raisesomehope.org) or Facebook.com/raisesomehope. These folks had t-shirts that you could write your feelings on the back as part of the grieving/healing process. At one point I had gone over to check on them and there was a young boy writing a thank you note to his teacher. It turns out he was one of the children who was shielded by their teacher when she laid over them for protection. When I tried to tell the story to Kristi I couldn’t do it without crying, so of course I had to repeat it several times. Even today typing this I’m getting a little misty eyed.

Another story worth telling; on one of my walking trips around the area telling people about our food I spoke with a young lady who was there helping to clean her brother’s house. She said she wasn’t really hungry, but a group of people had offered to help her and were cleaning in the back yard so we headed that way to ask them. She asked if they had had anything to eat, to which one replied they had some crackers earlier in the day. she asked me if we could feed the entire crew and I said “of course!”. She told the crew she would be back, we went to our trailer and loaded her up with 40 meals. She had no idea who these people were, but that’s what good people do in a disaster, they help one another.

We do this to help others, but it always seems like we are the ones who get blessed. The power of the human spirit never ceases to amaze me.

To learn more about Operation BBQ Relief, visit our website links page and click on their logo.