View Full Version : My First Competition

12-04-2008, 09:20 AM
My first competition.

Well for the last few years I have been asked by many of The Brethren if I was going to try competing. My response was always that I had no desire to compete, and therefore had no intention of competing. Part of the reason was that I very rarely smoke the standard BBQ fare. There is so much that you can do with a smoker why should I limit myself? I am always looking to try different things.

Then last October, my younger son, 14 years old at the time, went with me to visit some friends at the Battle of the BBQ Brethren in Sayville. Well after a spending a couple of hours there he was hooked and said “Dad, we have to do this!”

We had a discussion about what he had to accomplish with regards to things outside of BBQ, and if he did that this would be the reward. After a couple of months he had not lived up to his end and this was taken off the table. Well it went back on the table back in June, and he did what was expected of him, so off to Sayville we went.

When we started planning my son was all geared up to win! I explained to him that we weren’t going in this to win, 1) because in all likelihood we wouldn’t, and 2) because we were doing this to have fun. He finally relented and agreed that I could choose the team name: Grim Reaper Smokers, BBQ To Die For. Everything else would focus around that, especially considering that this, our first competition, was to be the weekend before Halloween.

Then came the logo that we worked up a concept for and had Patrick develop for us.

Then of course came the prerequisite tee shirts and sweatshirts, the coffee mugs and beer steins, and of course the team banner. Have to have these to have fun, don't you?

Then it was a few hours together to fabricate the tombstones that would form our graveyard.

Then there was actually cooking to do. I figured that we stood a more competitive chance at the grilling competition, so we worked up a few dishes together for that and tried them ahead of time.

Along the way we added one of my brothers and his son to the team. That left me the outsider with my son, brother and nephew all being named Mike! Who would of thought that might get confusing at times?

Also, I figured if we were going to do the competition, I should at least try cooking some pulled pork before the competition. I had never done pulled pork before, so two weeks before the competition we did our first pulled pork.

Then it was back to the really important things like getting Halloween candy to hand out to children and getting the right decorations for the onsite judging table setting and presentation.

Then 6am Saturday morning, we headed out the door, drove 10 miles to the east, and arrived in Sayville.

Set up went smoothly, and soon we looked like we actually knew what we were doing!



Willie B, a great friend who just recently had to close his BBQ place down, appreciated my tribute to him and upon seeing it immediately laid down and yelled "Take my picture!"


He then got up and spit on the grave!

Shortly thereafter, I hear someone say "That looks like a Brethren hat you are wearing." and turn around to see two men, and say "Jay (Spicewine) and Jimmy (Smokincracker), it's nice to meet you!" It never fails to amaze me that you can meet people face to face for the first time, and feel like you're old time friends. These guys exemplify what the Brethren is all about, and it was great to meet them.

The son and I hit the cook’s meeting and before we knew it we were off to prepping and cooking for the grilling competition.

First up was the sausage . . . uh . . . Fatty. We went with Fatty Wellington. Cooked the Fatty first, stuffed with some roasted red peppers and cheddar cheese, then sliced about 1” thick, wrapped in puff pastry and then back to the grill to bake. This was out first fatty ever, and we liked them. It got us 15th place.


Up next was the pizza. Tried going with a different dough than we’ve used in the past and it just didn’t cook the way we had hoped. We needed more time but just didn’t have any left, so into the box it went, with a gooey dough, and it looked like a mess. Not our finest moment. Didn’t get any pics of it, but if I did I sure wouldn’t share them here. I‘d say “no pics, it never happened,” but the DAL score would indicate otherwise, and I thought that score was generous!

Then came the hot dog. Here was a place for us to shine. In advance we had worked up a grilled hot dog egg roll recipe that we absolutely love. Includes grilled hot dog marinated in soy sauce, Dijon mustard, honey, sauerkraut, red cabbage, red onion and zucchini, and finished with a honey dijon glaze. They came out very nice. We were a little short on time and cold have used another minute or two on the grill, but we did get a 7th place with them.



Then came the on-site part of the competition, where we presented the iron-chef and dessert entries.

The secret ingredient ended up being apples. We incorporated them by making a slight change to another grilled dish that we like. We wrapped roasted red peppers and grilled sliced apples in thinly sliced chicken cutlets, and then wrapped that with bacon and grilled them. These were served with roasted red potatoes prepared with some olive oil and finely diced red onion.

For the dessert, we had created a recipe in advance that has quickly become one of our favorite desserts. It is a grilled apple and brie cheese quesadilla topped with a caramel sauce. First the Granny Smith apples are thinly sliced and grilled with brown sugar while flour tortillas are cut into thirds (120 degree arcs). Then the grilled apples are place in the middle third of the tortilla piece, topped with a slice of brie and then another layer of apple. The ends of the tortilla piece are folded over the filling and then the individual triangular pieces are grilled.


Now for the presentation. We are the Grim Reaper Smokers after all, so in keeping with our theme, we had a black table cloth, assorted skulls and tombstones (all different) with burning tealite candles, and a bubbling smoking black cauldron (Hot water and dry ice) at the end of the table upon which the spider platter with dessert was placed.


At the awards we got a check in the amount of $8.63 for 5th Place Dessert!

The chicken dish that we did for the Iron Chef entry got us 10th place.

Then came the rain, or rather what seemed like a monsoon. Thunder, Lightning, Wind, Pouring Rain. All the while I’m sitting under our 2 10x10 canopies thinking “I must be crazy. Here I am 50 years old, tired, sitting out here in this crap with my son, while I could be home sitting comfortably."

Finally around 10:30 pm I bit the bullet and said we have to get started cooking for tomorrow’s entries and I got wet dragging one of our smokers in under the canopy so that we could get going. Got it fired up, got the pork prepped and into the smoker.

Shortly after midnight, the rain stopped and we got the second smoker going and loaded in the brisket. About 1:30 am, my son said that he wasn’t really tired and he was just gong to hang, so I headed into the truck to take a nap for an hour. I woke up, looked at my watch and saw 4:30. When I checked on my son, he had zipped up the canopy and was asleep in a recliner, so I checked on the meat in the smokers and went back to sleep in the truck for 2 more hours.

About 7am I was up and back to cooking. My son got up and complained that he was cold so I sent him to the truck and in about 2 minutes he was back to sleep.

A couple hours of dry sunlight and I was back to enjoying myself rather than cursing the weather and questioning my sanity.

We finished out the cooking and were happy that we got everything turned in on time.

Our best finish in the BBQ categories was 26th place chicken, but more importantly, my son thinks that this is the best time that we have ever had together and is looking forward to doing more competitions next year.

Here is what we turned in for the BBQ competition.



Pulled Pork


And finally, The Grim Reaper Smokers at the end of the competition. From left to right, are Mike, Mike, Mike and me.


In the end we donated an extra rack of baby back ribs that we had cooked up along with a smoked 8 lb pork butt to the Island Harvest collection. We had told our family and friends to stop by and we would feed them, we only requested that they feed someone else by donating canned goods. As a result my son and nephew carried over about two cases of canned goods to where they were being collected for the Sayville Food Pantry.

My brother, the good guy that he is, stopped by my house to help us unpack the truck.

Then I found a comfortable seat, kicked my shoes off, and relaxed with some Absolut on the rocks. The perfect ending to a perfect weekend with my son.

12-04-2008, 09:25 AM
What a great story and pix! So are you hooked? :)

12-04-2008, 09:28 AM
I really enjoyed the report and pics. Thanks.

12-04-2008, 09:30 AM
Welcome to the dark side.

Very good write up.

12-04-2008, 09:31 AM
What a great story and pix! So are you hooked? :)

When you can do something together with your 15YO son for 36 straight hours, and you both have a really good time, and when you try to gauge it by asking him "What have we done together that was more fun that this?", and his repsonse is "I really can't think of anything," then yeah, I'm hooked.

12-04-2008, 09:37 AM
Great story and play by play with pics! Glad to hear you and your son enjoyed the heck out of it, and that we have another convert.8)

12-04-2008, 09:56 AM
When you can do something together with your 15YO son for 36 straight hours, and you both have a really good time, and when you try to gauge it by asking him "What have we done together that was more fun that this?", and his repsonse is "I really can't think of anything," then yeah, I'm hooked.

And that's the most important part!

Don't get me wrong. Getting calls and bringing home some hardware and cash is great, but if it ever stops being fun, I'm out.

12-04-2008, 10:17 AM
What a wonderfull story Tim Cardz.

I wished I had started the competing when my son was younger and had the expierence you and your son had.

12-04-2008, 10:17 AM
Most excellent, Tim.
Great post, recap and pics.
Very well done.
Y'all were great at Sayville.

BBQ Bandit
12-04-2008, 10:23 AM
That's an inspiring Father-son moment. Priceless.
Congrats... loved the play-by-play.

And that was your first event? Unbelieveable (only because I was there).
(Father of 3 grown daughters and my Wife - all four of them still think I'm nutz!)

Dale P
12-04-2008, 10:46 AM
Thanks for sharing that Tim. Glad to see you guys had fun.

Cue's Your Daddy
12-04-2008, 11:13 AM
Great Post, which i actually read twice. U get to compete with your 15 year old son, hopefully it never changes. My twin brother(bbqesq) and i are 33, my older brother is 37, and we still look forward to competing with my dad so we can hang out with each other. We always have a great time no matter were we finish.

Fatback Joe
12-04-2008, 11:14 AM
Great post! :mrgreen:

12-04-2008, 11:19 AM
I am desperate to get one of my kids involved in my passion so they want to do a comp with me.
I did my first (and only) this fall. The only thing that could have made it better was to have had my kids and wife there.

Great story, great pics, and most importantly great memories!

Alexa RnQ
12-04-2008, 11:23 AM
What a great writeup!!! Loved the photodocumentation, too -- I can see that you had the "bones" of it down, now it's just polish and practice!

You're absolutely right -- your boy is going to remember this kind of thing far, far longer than any afternoon spent at home in comfort. :cool:

12-04-2008, 11:51 AM
What a great writeup!!! Loved the photodocumentation, too -- I can see that you had the "bones" of it down, now it's just polish and practice!

There you go! That's the spirit! :-D

12-04-2008, 02:14 PM
That is soooo cool......My wife and daughters want me to enter a competition so they can help and be a part of it.... I'm inspired now......

12-04-2008, 05:18 PM
Great story and pictures, some very nice looking grub. Spending the weekend with the 15 year old son, that was the icing on the cake!! You are a winner in my book, a lucky man.

12-04-2008, 05:26 PM
My team members consist of my wife, my father, my mother and myself. Cooking with my family is one of the most times that we get to spend together. I think it has really brought us together.

Joshua S.

12-04-2008, 05:30 PM
Great looking family and great looking Que. Congrats:cool:

It's a family thing for us too Tim. Every contest I've been to one or both of my boys (21 & 288) have been there:cool:. Makes all the money and work worthwhile:-D.

12-04-2008, 07:39 PM
Awesome.. Thanks for sharing Tim !!

Brian in So Cal
12-04-2008, 07:43 PM
Very Cool!!

Big George's BBQ
12-04-2008, 09:18 PM
Great story and Pics. Thanks for sharing. To me the best part is having fun with my family. Hope to meet you at a Comp some day

12-05-2008, 04:26 AM
I am so jealous. If I could get my 16-yo daughter to even agree grudgingly to come to a competition with me just once I would be thrilled. You are a blessed man, my friend.

Thanks for sharing your story.


12-05-2008, 07:47 AM
Great story Tim, so glad you guys had so much fun. This is some of the best time I spend with my family wouldn't give it up for the world! Glad you figured it out...lol :wink:

12-05-2008, 08:16 AM
Awesome story Tim, I was there and it appeard to me like you guys were pros at this already, great job. Like Hog-O-Holic said, "I'm inspired now." Looking forward to competing next season as well as long as the funds are there..... Great post, thanks for sharing.

12-05-2008, 09:17 AM
In this day and age it seems that there are fewer and fewer things and events that a family can do together. BBQ comps can truly bring a family closer as Tim has just shown. Thanks you for a great story.

Bob S
12-05-2008, 09:02 PM
Great story Tim! It really was an incredible weekend of family, friends and Brethren.

12-06-2008, 08:11 AM
Excellent writeup and pics, Tim. Good looking eats that's for sure and it sounds like you had a great time there too! But most importantly, you got to spend some quality time with your son and had fun. That's awesome! Best of luck to you in future comps.

12-06-2008, 10:11 AM
Awesome story, thanks for sharing......the best of luck to ya later

Smokin' Joe
12-06-2008, 11:35 AM
Thats what its all about...thanks for sharing

12-06-2008, 08:51 PM
Sayville was my first comp also. Great story! My son is 5 yrs old now and loves to eat BBQ, I hope one day to have similar experience cooking togther.

12-07-2008, 02:20 AM
Great post! The time I get to spend with my brother, father and kids while cooking are priceless and I truly think my kids have learned more about winning, losing and, most importantly, the value of sportsmanship, through BBQ contests. Much more than what their peers are learning through forced sports programs where win at all cost is the top priority.

12-07-2008, 04:54 AM
Man those pictures are great!! Looks to be a great family and friends weekend and those times are priceless.:eusa_clap

That is soooo cool......My wife and daughters want me to enter a competition so they can help and be a part of it.... I'm inspired now......

Do it man get to the first one you can and enjoy the snot out of it. My family is the crux of our team, when you start getting your game on you can see the excitement and and amazement in the kids eyes watching you take on task and challenges just as you have instructed them to do in life. When you see it you will know because your chest will bulge,chills will run down your spine and sauce, ribs and chicken will start blending like no other.

Remember to let them get involved. Here are my baby's and the wife getting after the boxes that I screwed up.lol..


12-07-2008, 07:25 AM
It sounds like you'll be hooked... Nice write up on your first go-round.

12-07-2008, 07:51 AM
That is great, nice post!

01-05-2009, 09:37 AM
Tim- I would just like to say thanks again from Mike Jr. and myself. We are looking forward to the next one.:icon_wink