Thursday, December 27, 2007
This past week, the Board of Directors adopted a new team of the year points system that will start in 2008. The existing point structure of awarding teams points will be replaced with a new, exciting system. This new system will make for a very thrilling points chase and will virtually eliminate the possibility of ties. It will be utilized to calculate the overall team of the year as well as the overall four category winners. The teams top ten overall finishes and category finishes will be used to calculate points. There are plans to keep the point standings continuously updated on the KCBS website beginning sometime in the spring. As always, team of the year points will begin to accumulate January 1st of 2008.
Every team at a contest will receive points, even the last place team. Additionally, every team participating in a contest will be awarded bonus points based on the number of teams at an event, up to a maximum of 100. There are no double and triple points, only the bonus points based on the number teams competing at each event. While teams will still be rewarded for doing well in large contests, this system helps to bridge the gap between the smaller and larger events, rewarding teams for their consistency on the competition circuit regardless of event size.
The following is a breakdown of the points awarded at each event to each placement. Take for example the third place overall finisher at a 47-team event. The team will receive 200 points plus 47 bonus points based on the number of teams competing, for a total of 247.
24th and down--25
Monday, December 24, 2007
I was counting the days until the Summer Fest. While checking the web site I noticed a BBQ class offered By Smoken Dudes BBQ at the New Holland location on Thursday just before the Summer Fest. My friend Al and I signed up and drove to New Holland early Thursday morning. The e-mail conformation said not to eat breakfast and they were not kidding. The guys at Smoken Dudes put on a great class that included an awful lot of good BBQ to eat. They demonstrated cooking methods for brisket, pork butts, chicken, ribs, prime rib and even a whole hog. The best part was the students could sample everything that was cooked for the class, we didn't have to buy breakfast, lunch or dinner that day! Meadow Creek BBQ was moving their display cookers onto the fair grounds and you could just feel the excitement building for the weekend cook off.
Friday morning came and I hit the office early trying to clean up loose ends with intentions of taking a half a day off. By 11:00 I couldn't take it any more and I jumped into my truck for the 1 ½ hour ride to New Holland Pennsylvania. I grabbed a change of clothes and my shaving kit and headed north but not without a stop for a bottle of agave juice.
Steve was already there. He was cooking with his Father, Dale, under the name of Team Agave. The year before, Steve and Dale won the Grand Champion at New Holland so this year they were the ones to beat. I had no idea what to bring or what to expect as I wandered around the fair grounds looking for Team Agaves site. I eventually located Steves rig and knocked on the door. I was greeted with a big grin and a quick handshake then told, "hand me that brisket…no…not the butt…the brisket…that's it." Sort of reminded me of when we ran out of gas on a boat out in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, when the Captain in the assisting boat was preparing to tow us in, he tossed the line, "tie it to the pointy end" he said. From then on, it was non-stop. It began with instruction, followed by hands on training. I could not believe how much meat we were preparing. While we worked to trim and prep the meat, other cooks and team members would stop in to say hello. There was a lot of talk about recent contests, who finished where, who did what to their chicken ( that doesn't sound right does it?) and some good-natured ribbing, but overall, everyone I met was very friendly……. and this was a competition?
As evening approached and we were finishing with the meat prep, teams from nearby sites stopped in to invite us to come over and have a bite to eat or a cold drink. Dale had brought some steamer clams from home and he cooked then up with some melted butter, they were great. Folks stopped by and we went visiting, it was just like a big party, this looked like it was going to be fun.
I met many people my first evening on the BBQ circuit. Chris and the Dizzy Pig gang invited us in for a bowl of their "nad" soup. They had the blues playing and the smoke rollin, talk about mojo. I don't know what was in the soup, but it sure was good. Brett Brown from Free Range BBQ was nearby and cooking alone this weekend, now that is an iron man. I was also introduced to Rich Decker from Lost Nation Smoke Company and his rendition of a clonesickle. (Note to self, stay away from anything presented in a block of ice on an August night in New Holland) After a few more trips around the fairgrounds punctuated with a couple of nips on the clonesickle, we loaded the meat into the cooker and I went (staggered) off to grab a few hours sleep. (another note to self: bring sleeping bag and pillow to facilitate getting a few hours sleep)
(a third note to self: Attempting to sleep in a Chevy Tahoe without a pillow or blanket on a hot August night after consuming steamer clams and bourbon whiskey from a block of ice does not necessarily make for a restful night…add Rolaids, Tums and Ibuprofen to the must have list) Steve said he would be up early to put the ribs on, I think my reply was, "if I am not there, start without me."
Saturday morning came and despite the fog in my head, I rolled back to the site and met Dale and Steve for breakfast. I had missed the ribs going into the cooker. The folks from Smoken Dudes put out a good feed, nothing fancy, but very tasty. A few eggs, a cup of coffee and a couple more Ibuprofen and I was as good as new….yea right! Oh, by the way, Steve wants to know if I would be interested in cooking the sausage entry. Sure, I will cook it, do we have a grill? No grill, no problem, Steve calls his friend Jack McDavid of Jacks Down Home BBQ, and presto, I got a grill. A black Weber kettle, now this I could cook on. I was about to cook in my first official KCBS BBQ contest and I was not even nervous.
Sausage was due first, at 11:30, before chicken, I lit an indirect fire and tossed them on. I tried not to burn them or cause them to split. When they were done, I tossed em in a bath with beer and some other goodies and slid em into the smoker until turn time. Dale made me up a box and Steve helped me build the box. At the appointed time, I walked the box up to the table. A smiling woman took the box after I sat it down, that was painless.
Back to the site as Steve was getting ready with his chicken turn in and it was off to the races until brisket went in at 1:30. Even though Steve was basically cooking by himself, Dale prepped and ran the boxes, and I did what I was told, he was, in my opinion, very calm and organized. He would ask for an opinion, call for a look-see, or have us taste a product, he moved around like a well-oiled machine. No pressure, no worry, amazing. He even had time to speak to a group of folks that stopped by the site from his hometown, wow, how does he do that?
After the brisket went in it was time to clean up as Steve and Jack McDavid were leaving New Holland after the last turn in for a two day drive out to Las Vegas to film a BBQ contest on the VERSUS network. When we were packed up, Steve and Jack hit the road, Dale asked if I was staying for the awards. Jo had just called and said she picked up some fresh swordfish from the market, when would I be home. After my meeting with the clonesickle and the sleep that I didn't get in the Hotel Tahoe, I thought it would make sense to go ahead and get on the road. After all, I was really beat. Dale would stay and collect any accolades for Team Agave.
Cell phone service at my home is spotty at best. While sitting at the kitchen island, dining on blackened swordfish and drinking a glass of Merlot, 6:00 PM Saturday evening, my cell phone tells me I have a new message. That's funny, it never even rang, typical for the service around here, where's that guy with the black framed glasses when you need him. I dial in to retrieve my message and work through the menu, finally getting to the new one, its scratchy, sounds like the caller is also in a bad cell. I can make out Steve's voice, as he is somewhere in western Pennsylvania, I can tell he's excited, Team Agave took the Grand Championship for the second year in a row!!! And to top it off, we got a call for 5th place sausage out of 72 teams! I can't believe it, amazing.
Upon reflection, I had had a great time and met some great folks. Other than my self-inflicted overindulgence, I had a great weekend. This really looks like something I would like to get involved with. I wonder if I can find a couple of interested people and start our own team.
Friday, December 21, 2007
BBQ Events: Grillin On The Bay
I already told you that Grillin' On The Bay will be back for 2008. It will be held on May 23-25. New website up after the new year.
Once again it will be sponsored by the ever generous folks at RUB BBQ.
But check out the new digs at Kingsborough Community College....
Photo by Stephen Moran (Sheepshead Bay Civic Association Treasurer)
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
It was not long before I was a regular lurker on the BBQ Forum. Reading the posts and contest results became a daily routine, just like reading the morning paper. I searched the archives, clicked on links and googled for all things BBQ. All the while trying to get a consistent cook with my offset, without having to sit there and watch it every minute. When I had the time to spend sitting with the cooker, I could hold a steady temperature, but leave it alone for and hour or so and you never knew what you would find upon your return. There had to be a better way.
My wife Jo and I had been taking cooking classes together for the past several years and really enjoyed the time together and learning different cooking methods. Our instructor Tom and his wife Carol have become good friends as they open their kitchen up once a month to us students for what is always a great meal. The one problem that developed because of our increased interest in cooking was we found that our kitchen was too small. (Just a friendly word of caution to those thinking of increasing your cooking knowledge and or skills.) So, in the spring of 2005 we decided to remove a bearing wall and expand our kitchen, more than doubling its size. With the hard work of many of our great friends, (thanks Bobby, Art and Jack), we installed our dream kitchen. The new floor plan included seating for six around an island complete with a new gas cook top. The room became our kitchen/family room. As was always the case, when family and friends came over, everyone always hung out in the kitchen, only now there was plenty of room and they could watch all of the action. We located a new Weber Genesis gas grill just outside the side kitchen door and ran a gas line from the main LP source to eliminate the need to replace grill bottles. The new grill is not far away so the cook can stay in the conversation and does not get lost behind the grill. I am not sure if the guests appreciate this fact as much as I do!
I communicated regularly my new friend Steve and he asked me several times to come and hang out with him at various BBQ contests. I had mentioned to Steve earlier that if he ever needed a pot washer or runner at any contest to let me know. Teenage sons in the final years of High School along with the ongoing kitchen project just would not let it happen. I continued to read The Forum and work on my BBQ skills. Some results were good, while others, well, let's just say, not so good.
As the Tailgate Challenge approached in August 2005, Mike and I again signed up. I had been working on my ribs in the offset and was not happy with the result. I felt I could get a better rib cook with the Weber kettle. When the day of the Bash arrived, we hauled the kettle down to Bel Air. It was what seemed like 110 degrees that day and cooking on an asphalt parking lot made it seem even hotter. We were much more pleased with our product that day and came in 5th place. We did not get a ribbon, but it was nice getting the "Call". We had a lot of friends and family stop by again which made for a good time. Steve and Dave again cooked as Team Agave and after we cleaned up, we stopped over for a visit. It was good seeing our friends again but the heat of the long day and a planned full day on Saturday with the ongoing construction project caused us to call it an early night.
An e-mail a few days later from Steve invited me to New Holland for the Summer Fest 2005. The new cabinets were on the schedule to be installed that day and I had to stay home. Not that I have the ability to install kitchen cabinets, but somebody has to hand the skilled workers the unpacked cabinets, fetch beers and cook lunch, and that somebody was me. BBQ contests would have to wait.
By October 2005 the kitchen project was wrapping up and it was time to break it in. Christmas was our first big meal and things worked very well, Jo and I could not have been happier. In February 2006, we hosted a dinner for all of our friends that helped with the kitchen project including Sheila from Lowes that did the layout design. Our guests dinned on fillet mignon and seared tuna and a good time was had by all.
The annual family vacation for 2006 was set, deposit sent, house reserved, plans in place. When is the Bel Air bash this year, THE SAME TIME AS OUR ALREADY SCHEDULED VACATION!!!! How did that happen?? I sure would like to blame it on Jo. Perhaps the BBQ schedule was not consulted before vacation plans were made. Surely, she should have looked, ah, maybe not, perhaps she's not into this cook off thing like I am. You can bet that will never happen again if I can help it.
We did arrive home mid afternoon on the day of the Bash. Jo and I drove down to Bel Air in time for the awards. The Dizzy Pig gang won as Grand Champion and a mental note was made to check the BBQ dates before making vacation plans in the future.
Wait a minute, things are looking up, Steve is heading to New Holland August 25th to attempt to repeat as the Grand Champion and he needs a dish washer, hmmmmmm I think I can make that!
Friday, December 14, 2007
No BBQ'rs arsenal is complete without a Thermopen
It's fun to inject different concoctions into the meat to get different flavor profiles. These can be found at Target and at various online vendors.
How about some heat gloves or a new Basting brush or a new rub or sauce.
Don't forget the disposable gloves and foil pans.
There are many bbq classes offered throughout the country check the webpage of the local bbq association in your area.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The Ranch House BBQ restaurant in Olympia Washington was destroyed by a mudlslide on December 3rd 2007. The Governor Hotel in Olympia has offered the owners of the Ranch House the free use of it's kitchen until they can get back on their feet.
Read the full story here
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Who are those guys? is a new BBQ team from Street,
Summer of 2004
I had the application for the “Tailgater challenge” at the Bel Air BBQ Bash all filled out with the check written, in an envelope, sitting on my desk. I just could not bring my self to mail it.
I had been to the Bash in Bel Air the year before and walked around on Friday night looking at all the different cookers and talking to many of the contestants. I even found myself riding through town the following Saturday just to get a whiff!
Pretty intimidating to me. Months before I had bought my first smoker, a $200 offset from BBQ Galore. I had produced some decent stuff with the offset and my Weber kettle, folks liked my Que, but a contest, I don’t know about that. Talking it over with my friend Mike and to heck with it, we would enter and see what happens. What is the worst thing that could happen; we would sit around for a Friday afternoon and drink a few beers, that ain’t all bad. We cooked up some pulled pork, got a couple of dozen ears of sweet corn and some cold beer and invited a few friends to stop by and see us.
Mike and I arrived at the appointed time and unloaded the truck. We went to the cooks meeting and were given our rack of ribs to cook. We fired up the offset and were in business. At least we thought. They also gave us a turn in box and told us that we could garnish our ribs, garnish, we did not have any of that with us, what could we use? what was legal?, and we thought this would be easy.
Not to worry, the fellow next to us, Ron Loveland (Ribinit), was very helpful. He filled us in and a few cell phone calls later we had it covered. Cooker going, sitting back having a beer in the middle of town on a Friday afternoon in August, this sure beat working! It wasn’t long when we had a visit by two very friendly guys Steve Farrin and Dave Frary. They introduced themselves, asked some questions, made a couple of suggestions and invited us to stop by and see them at their site later on. They were cooking as Team Agave over on the “other” side, where the big boys were.
Our ribs were cooked and we made up our box, looking back, I wish we had taken a picture. I think there were 12 teams, we got a “call” for 6th place and even got a ribbon! Many friends stopped by and had some grub, overall, we had a ball. I would say this was the beginning, I was hooked but didn’t know it yet. After we cleaned up, we walked over to see Steve and Dave. They were very friendly and showed us around their set up, answered many questions and even offered a shot of the magic agave juice to the new guys. We wandered around after a lot of the crowd left and spoke to many of the other cooks, all very willing to show you around and talk BBQ. This sure looked like fun. But the thought of cooking 4 categories, and one of them was brisket, all done on a rigid time schedule, I am not too sure about that. And brisket, never cooked one of those before. Before we left, Steve asked me to stop by on Saturday to taste their que, hmmmm, Saturday, I had nothing else to do.
Saturday early afternoon found my wife Jo and I walking through the smoke and excitement of turn in time. You could feel the excitement, but not much to see as a spectator, not like watching a NASCAR race or a football game, just not much for the spectator to see. Until we got to Team Agaves site. Steve and Dave were in the middle of their turn ins. They made us welcome and we stayed out of the way and just watched. Now, this was exciting. The best thing was that Steve gave us samples, especially the brisket, how did he get that so tender. Jo and I stayed after turn in and helped Steve and Dave clean up and pack up and they gave us a couple of zip locks full of meat to take home, not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Around 3:00 (before awards) Jo and I hit the road but not before exchanging e mail addresses with our new friends. Steve suggested that I visit the BBQ Forum and said I could get a lot of good information there. He also gave me a container of Blues Hog Rub and suggested I give it a try on my next rib cook. We wished the team luck and went home with out carry out bags and a new found appreciation of competition cooking.
Wednesday afternoon and the local paper is delivered, Steve and Dave are on the front page, Team Agave wins the Bel Air bash! How about that! I think I will check out that BBQ Forum and see what this is all about.
landscapes and food. Every Tuesday the eggheads post their favorite
pictures. Check it out.
Monday, December 10, 2007
When I first started this blog it was to discuss my life in competition
barbecue. I thought it would be about putting together a team, creating
recipes, competing, walking the stage, and finally opening my own place.
I never dreamed that I'd be organizing contests and events. But, I have.
Little did I know that my journey in barbecue would lead to Grillin' On
The Bay, NYC's original barbecue contest. Together with my brother Matt
Fisher, we've run a great event for the past two years. Planning for
next year's event is underway.
Grillin' On The Bay will be back for 2008. But it won't be the same; it
will be so much better!
We've outgrown our original location and will be moving to the beautiful
grounds of Kingsborough Community College. We've got 80 acres on which
to play surrounded by Sheepshead Bay, Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic
Ocean. This will truly be grilling ON the bay!
Grillin' On The Bay 2008 will include our traditional NEBS sanctioned
grilling contest, and we will be adding a KCBS barbecue contest as well.
There will be many other surprises, special guests and a new website.
If you'd like to volunteer to help us out with the event, please send an
email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to have you, we're grateful
for the help and you'd be helping to raise money to fight cancer.
Everything is in the planning stages right now but I promise you this,
Grillin' On The Bay 2008 will be glorious.
$50,000. Grand Champ is worth 10K and Top Ten overall will get paid as
well as the top 20 in each category. There will also be a sauce contest
sponsored by Capone's Choice with first place worth $1000 and the top 3
overall getting paid. Reserve the date 9/19-9/20 2008 and map your
course to Hot Springs Arkansas.
The Second Annual Fire on Ice competition will be held Feb 29th in Ilse
Minnesota on Mille Lacs Lake.
The Kansas Winter Que will be held Feb 15th in Great Bend Kansas.
There's even a rumor of a winter competition being held somewhere in New
And of course our friends in Florida and California have competitions
all year long.
If you answered yes to any of these questions then this blog is for you. It's a place for you to share your barbecue experiences. If you have an email account then you can become a poster to this blog.