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Sticks-n-chicks
09-14-2008, 07:31 AM
My Story,
Well where to start, 2 years ago I had the pleasure of my next door neighbors Chris and Dan of “Brew – n- BBQ” who let me hang out, help out and ask a ton of questions at Paola. They get the blame for my addiction….The long night and the warm smoke had me. I came home with huge expectations of Qing but had no idea where to start and wasn’t quite sure if I was up to the task both in lack of sleep of competing and learning how to cook well! For a little background I have 4 kids a boy 11, and 3 girls 7, 5, 3 all of which play soccer. That being said we don’t travel much and I needed to get my but off the couch on weekends and wanted to meet some new friends.

Fast forward to last year and the purchase of my bullet it was love at first cook. After several brisket, ribs and pork I wanted more…I needed more… I started looking at different cookers and started to set some $$$ aside (soon to learn I needed more $$$$) helped out at Lenexa and Paola and was on my way to happiness. At Lenexa this year I was walking around and came across a banner from a company I used to work for Light Bulbs Etc. I poked my head and found my old boss and family friend, he asked what I was up to and I mentioned that I wanted to compete and he said the most beautiful words “ I will sponsor you at a few events”.

So I started looking at pits and talking with people to see what I could learn, first lesson there is lots of money to be spent on a smoker! I managed to get my father involved who is my best friend and needed another hobby. I looked at tank smoker and all sorts of smokers and was introduced to the BBQ Brethren through a friend in VT who said it was a great resource…he was understating it! Did some searching and came across Diamond Plat Pits (the chrome stacks had me at hello) On the phone I went and bugged the hell out of Travis about options and changes and tweaks and he took every call and every email and every question. 9 weeks ago I purchased a Diamond Plate Pit – 60 Series from Travis (great guy in all aspects). I drove down with my Dad to pick it up and we both hoped it was half what we had seen on the website and through pictures. My reassurance cam from the other owners that I met on the brethren site. As we waited in a Wal-Mart parking lot he came around the bend and it was more than I expected. We hooked it up, talked with Travis a little while and headed back to KC. We got home at 11:00pm and I headed up to the car wash to spray it out and bring home for the burn in, I could hardly sleep.

Woke up and gave it good 4-5 hour burn in around 400 with oak, apple and cherry. The next day on went the meat. I cooked and I cooked and I cooked..Practice Practice Practice. Every weekend, in fact I have cooked on this smoker 8 out of the last 9 weeks. I started on boxes and boxes and boxes all in an effort to be prepared for my first contest. I thought it would be fun to try the “Royal” but soon found out I would be nuts to do that first. After some persuasion I decided I would compete in 3 this year; Cross Points, Shawnee and Desoto. As the contest neared I practiced at night with “turn in times” and grabbing neighbors as judges. I took a judges class to better understand what “they” were looking for. Posted pictures for opinions (thank you by the way, your feedback helped a lot). I had my Monday morning Q wrap up with my VT Q-brother I made list after list after list of stuff I needed or something I saw another team had and what they used and what they felt you “needed” again more $$$.

The first comp… I was told I wouldn’t be able to sleep (you were right John) the week finally arrived. It was Christmas and I could hardly wait, but mid way through the week my Father who is my primary helper had to leave town for some tests and I was going solo. My wife found a sitter so she could try and help on Friday night with boxes (she did a great job) and then on Saturday to help with Turn ins. Here comes the rain…starting on Thursday it began to rain. I took off Friday and began loading up in a nice steady rain. Arrived at Cross Points around 1:00pm and checked in and asked to be by the “Judges tent” and started to setup shop and hung my BBQ Brethren Banner. More rain, finally got setup and changed clothes (time 1) prepped my meat and was pleased to see several of the brethren come by and introduce themselves. Man, great people. My neighbors Brew-n-BBQ were there as well and come by multiple times and asked if I needed anything, bought some ice for me and were there for any questions I had. More rain, about 5:30 tornado sirens went off, wind picked up and for the next hour we had torrential downpours followed by tornado sirens follow by torrential downpours. About 7 o’clock a huge blast of wind came through and it was all I could do to hold on to my canopy. Changed clothes again….One canopy folded in on itself but the rest held. As soon as the weather was over two teams came over and asked if I needed any help and one team told me to tie off onto his truck (Thank You to Mark for that). The weather calmed down and I had dinner and prepped my boxes. More rain about 10:00pm and wind. I was totally worried about my smoker, I had practice but not in weather like this. Usually it take 30-45 minutes to get my smoker up to temp…10:30 125 degrees…11:00 125 Degree…..12:00 125 Degrees I was going nuts all I could think was great here I am and I can’t get my smoker up to temp, I got really down called my wife and told that I sure knew how to pick hobies and was ready to jump off a cliff. She calmed me down and told me not to worry it will get to temp and just relax. I got off the phone and said the hell with it, crawled into the back of my Tahoe and crashed for and hour. Clothes change number 3 woke up about an hour later and holy smoke it was at 225, there was hope. I go to grab my gauges and what do you know they are all wet and won’t power up. So out of three gauges which I have lived and died by during practice I had 1. So on went the meat. Everything went smooth but during the wind my WSM I use for chicken fell over and I didn’t realize until morning after I had overcooked and burned the skin to my pans that my therm was broken and stuck on 275 but was actually 375. Luckily there were some salvageable pieces so I put them on the smoker and went about my morning. Around 6:00 am my Dad shows up, turns out his test were cancelled due to the hurricane so he came back up. Man was that a relief. As the morning went along I noticed my meat was cooking fast…too fast…so I did the stupidest thing I could have done. Rather than letting it cook and putting in a cooler I backed down the temp of my smoker. Seemed like a good idea but was not. As the time went on I noticed my temps were not moving so I cranked up the heat. Everything went rather smoothly. And I was stressed but not freaking out. So I jacked the heat up which overcooked the ribs, I had my therm in 1 pork and 1 brisket. Pork turned out very good, Brisket did not, the 1 brisket I had the therm is was 10-15 degrees lower than the other 2 (way overcooked) and the one that was the right temp tasted horrible.

Over all I finished 12th out of 27 teams and I got a call for my pork 10th place. I was beside myself with how it felt to here “Sticks-n-Chicks” called. If you want to see pics of the turn ins I will have on my website shortly, I can't figure out how to get them on here.

I had 3 goals for this outing
- Turn in on time all 4 meats
- Do not get DQ’d
- Don’t look like and Ass or a complete rookie
I really feel all three were met and I was happy with that but to finish in the middle of the pack with good teams… that ROCKED!

Thanks to everyone who helped and now it’s on to Shawnee.

Side note – I am cooking for our church today, and started to unload and set up at home like I did when I practiced and realize..DUH… I can go back to prepping in the house and not the driveway… (Thought you might get a laugh out of that.
Hope to see more brethren and the ones I have met soon.
Will

smknwhlswife
09-14-2008, 09:03 AM
Will, for your first comp, you did awesome.......for the type of weather you had to deal with...you totally rocked!!!!

I know of a couple of teams that would just break down and leave with that type of weather.

I will see you at Shawnee, unless I decide to go with Andy and Todd to Omaha, still undecided. Either way good luck!

WannaBeBBQueen
09-14-2008, 09:15 AM
Wow dude you have staying power that is awesome...the fact that you didn't pack up and go home is incredible, but where you finished, darn!! Way to go!! Great job!!!:biggrin:

Now good luck at Shawnee and may it not rain on your parade.

Ron_L
09-14-2008, 09:16 AM
Great post! thanks for sharing your story. Congrats for surviving your first comp, especially with the weather conditions. It will get easier as you get into a routine. Congrats your your call in pork and nice finish overall.

Coz
09-14-2008, 09:46 AM
Congrats on SURVIVING your first comp.We are a new team also.Prepping for our third contest.The second contest was much much less nerve wracking.While our first wasnt as bad weather as yours we had bad winds all day friday into the evening.Then just as we finished turn ins the rain started.Its an evil disease this competition thing,I think my wife has it as bad or worse as I do.It will get much easier.My favorite part so far has been the late nite BS sessions after all the meats are in and every one is kinda mellowing out.