View Full Version : Maiden Voyage

10-19-2009, 09:14 PM
Besides being one of my favorite recordings of all time by Herbie Hancock . . .

Wow - competing as our own team at Parsons, Kansas was one helluva lotta fun!

It was also one helluva lotta work! :-)

As it turned out, the entire team consisted of myself . . . and my wife Nancy. We competed under the name of my brother's business, Many Hats Creative. (Long story, but let's just say I owe him one.)

At one point (it was Saturday morning at 1:25AM), I was awakened by the sound of rain falling on my hat as I was sleeping in my chair outside, next to the smokers. I had an alarm set for the top of every hour to feed them with fuel. Getting wet in 35 degree weather with sustained 15 mph winds out of the north . . . that was too cold! But that was the worst point in the entire weekend.

The field of competitors was top notch with many of the 15 teams having been invited in the past (one year or another) into the American Royal Invitational.

Our best finish was tenth in brisket and 11th in pork. The ribs were 12th and we came in dead last in chicken. Well, except for the ringer they threw in, in order to make it an official competition. (Must have 15 teams.) She cooked ONLY chicken and she was the ONLY team we beat in chicken.

One of the high notes is that not one of the 100% certified judges gave us anything lower than a 6 on any of our elements. (I felt really good about that, also being a regular judge and knowing and respecting the judges.) We were within 22 points of the grand champion team (that's a fairly tight field!) and we finished 13th overall beating out a rookie team from Texas in the final analysis.

The best lessons I learned were: Do NOT take an unknown piece of equipment into competition and try to use it. I failed to grasp the (simple, easy) concept of how to use The BBQ Guru that Todd (HawgsNHeifers) insisted would make my life easier . . . I forgot to close the unused vents on the Weber Smoky Mountain. I wound up roasting the brisket within about four hours. Nancy tried to tell me that I should have cooked the brisket just like I have been at home, using the Brinkmann offset. She was right and I will heed her advice next time. I have been producing totally kick-arse brisket at home lately.

Secondly, I tried a new chicken recipe during testing earlier in the week - an herb/garlic marinade with BBQ rub which produces a complex bouquet of flavors that I was sure would just knock the socks off the judges. Fact is - most of the judges are looking for the best, simple, traditional BBQ chicken. So, even though I (and Nancy and my daughter and her husband and my son Michael) LOVED the new recipe - the fact is I should have remained true to my normally simple recipe - 'marinade' in sea salt, freshly ground pepper corn melange and EVOO overnight - then lightly sprinkle with rub before grilling on the Weber kettle with a very small amount of cherry chips on the fire.

So . . . bottom line is that competition is no place for experimentation with either equipment or recipes.

We were so tired by the end! I am still stiff and sore today from loading and unloading everything (canopy with walls, three cookers, tables, chairs, tent and etc., cooking utensils, four coolers with ice, food, groceries, and so forth and so on) using our two small Toyotas, filling every nook and cranny . . . and then repeating the process when we were on our way home . . . only brief catnaps over night Friday into Saturday . . . well, we were absolutely toasted physically and mentally by the time we got back to the house in Lawrence Saturday night.

But the bottom line is that it was great fun and I enjoyed working on it with Nancy there with me! And that's what is important.

I must at this point send out huge amounts of love and mad props to HawgsNHeifers who let us borrow a lot of his equipment! That made it about ten times easier than it would have been without the water heater, the kitchen, WSM and other items!

We will definitely compete again . . . and it's only a matter of time before we get it all under control and predictable and . . . :-) heh heh . . .

Just Pulin' Pork
10-19-2009, 09:30 PM
Dude nice story and sounds like you learned a ton from your first contest! The key is u had fun. Hopefully you can hit a contest in and around KC next year. Congrats on getting your first one under your belt. Hope to see at a contest next year.


10-20-2009, 07:46 AM
Great report and glad you learned alot with your first comp. But better yet I am glad you had fun. Keep working on those recipes and understanding your equipement.

early mornin' smokin'
10-20-2009, 07:56 AM
great story, and kinda reminds me of my first time, you did awesome!!! Keep at it!

10-20-2009, 09:38 AM
I'm glad that you had fun and survived the wet and cold! Getting everything turned in on time and no DQs is a great thing for a first time out!

Big George's BBQ
10-20-2009, 10:29 AM
Great story Glad you had fun Hope you do it again next year

10-20-2009, 01:49 PM
I'm glad that you had fun and survived the wet and cold! Getting everything turned in on time and no DQs is a great thing for a first time out!


10-20-2009, 01:51 PM
Glad you had fun and every one came back safe.

I remember my first comp... We couldn't fit everything into our 6x10 trailer, now there's room to spare. Don't worry, learn from each one and take it to the next!

10-24-2009, 03:50 PM
http://hyvee.lifepics.com/net/ImageShare.aspx?size=large&filespec=E89634F2E65F5051B0BFE1BDD883E54B498CB94F1 A983E81BD6A7567F075292E0C8F3E0842E2BC47B664FAA78D3 166445C521214BB7B4A4734BC445E5D017AE258394ADA85C9E 1E35115D4F43E6F8EA0D3A600E03F3279DC1C405999AF47725 D&a=00E600ABA4A42EC86F4FCCC5A286B5258BA6F2EB11271ED6 ED309AF2D10A3B6B

OK - please bear with me here - Nancy and I got ourselves a digital camera (FINALLY! no more cell phone pics) and I wanted to post some of the pictures from competing in Parsons here.

(This is my first attempt at bringing the image in from a third party site so Phil and all don't have to store the pics on the Brethren's server and use their bandwidth.)

So, here are the ribs right after they came off the Brinkmann offset. I had to cut the racks in half to fit them in the Macgiver style rib rack that Nancy had to fashion out of an aluminum pan (just like the one the ribs are in here) because I forgot to bring the rib rack. Can you believe I didn't even put the rib rack on The List? Oh well, that make-shift rib rack worked great!

In the picture, I am pointing out to Nancy how the meat has pulled back from the ends of the bones just about right . . . and she snapped a picture.

10-24-2009, 04:04 PM
OK - that worked pretty good. That little "Print Me" logo is mildly annoying . . .

Here I am standing next to Todd's HawgsNHeifers Brethren banner that we displayed.

I never would have been able to do this without all the help and encouragement of the folks here on the Brethren forum.

I owe you all A LOT! :-)

http://hyvee.lifepics.com/net/ImageShare.aspx?size=large&filespec=CEF62550C57EFBE061AE7FF821B78A669C03B1568 5E3130BCEC1FAB508696942767F2B9C1DF6AFFE0F5933BFBBF A279FFCC35AAF28CD34166D040640621ABEFE29FC4F025B7D9 B7F11D06A9603175DE97510328FED38FF491304407475BF17E 4&a=6EC95B4022443F7E2C6DB0EE17A28433BDBC23D376787673 4E5D427453A536D2

And here are the ribs right before we shut the turn-in container. We forgot to take a picture of the chicken. Nancy did the garnish. This one actually drew two sevens, two eights and a couple of nines out of the six judges.

http://hyvee.lifepics.com/net/ImageShare.aspx?size=large&filespec=68719B7436E1B17EA5C1E92218C1A3342DC1322CD 85B8114833C6F93945F8CAB5EC7AC53257DB0D0B03808C4C65 AB2DD3EF71A983913F4640F145DE4A1A60F76C7EEF83086DB2 50C65DF3BD8FFF0A77D7D3D799C30E63A9C510B21FA08254BD 3BF6B097E25E915C90CA5335D295ED739&a=3291E407BEA153B593DF54B856ACB71FE451898BC91BE639 A1B0FBD7FA40808B

10-24-2009, 04:16 PM
Here's a picture of Nancy frying up some bacon in a cast iron skillet on the Weber kettle. She made a bacon explosion that night for our dinner.

http://hyvee.lifepics.com/net/ImageShare.aspx?size=large&filespec=798720586BB4D5D7D67366F86D9ECD7472CFEC42A 065D19B778251E73B59F24D51B13012E62743C5C8177387BFF C8D84D78EBCAA6CBE0685F4AF32A60CCF5E42B3A1E7E34B05E D197792F8072674421F0377065691113DA777678A5811067FB 19995D6B680AB64D49BF81261F9436006&a=62DBDDBC4392096EB5633EF17BE87448485C6C08A6F59B41 4AF8710BB3B88306

This brisket was so far over-done I was happy to be able to get what looked like seven pieces into the box. I'm sure the judges had a hard time getting it out. BUT - it was really delicious!

http://hyvee.lifepics.com/net/ImageShare.aspx?size=large&filespec=95C066A5DA8FD30A43B6E6E9C8F75323CFA012EBC 289C5B9B7747B844903DC7F20844FCDDFA5ACE0DF5687EDD6E A14225C593738DCA5B98A09A9F2E7AB58CEDA93683A77D414A B1E1C6344E3030CE42874297AB28EA2086736A346EA87D20C6 A337D934D14183E140211C0A5FD297EAA&a=16705572BFAB2A272B9453381224A28D6CBC08453B4DEAD4 41907A937CF6436F

And here I am holding the pork entry. It really wasn't as dark as it looks - I presented both slices and a pile of pulled. For the pulled pile I tried to include as much meat from near the bark as possible. It scored really good on taste . . .

http://hyvee.lifepics.com/net/ImageShare.aspx?size=large&filespec=3FC891673777C9E0D3A9FF4D1DA6D991792F0CAA7 6254B08836DD88627E38D614C76A6550E22F9B038BAECB64D2 D97D3E5A06C4F973B3F824A0F84180C274C6E3E832FBADE131 FCF21CD6BCF9CB326232F2F5637067B2C3B4EBE88595FB54B3 9&a=518F7E7C55613CB5A4B50611962631560B0D42C65EFC36DF 87DAE5909C30ACBA

Rich Parker
10-24-2009, 04:40 PM
Nice pics thanks for sharing.

10-24-2009, 05:52 PM
Aside from the Jayhawk crap, all looks pretty good :-)

10-24-2009, 06:14 PM
Aside from the Jayhawk crap, all looks pretty good :-)


Well, you know, we DO live in Lawrence, after all . . . :-)

10-25-2009, 08:03 AM
Great job Bro. and nice pics. :icon_cool

10-26-2009, 11:40 AM
Great Pictures--thanks for sharing.

Welcome to "The Dark Side" :lol:
It is habit forming.


10-27-2009, 01:02 PM
Thanks, folks. I couldn't have done it without you.

10-27-2009, 01:20 PM

Well, you know, we DO live in Lawrence, after all . . . :-)

Pay no attention to my education-challenged friend.

One Arm Bandit
10-27-2009, 05:52 PM
At my first comp the temp only dropped to 43 and it was cold. Thank goodness it was dry. I use a Guru and I sleep better now at night. Still working on improving. I have a long way to go.