hey Ladies.. Back from the Jack and a great 2 days.
Got there Friday mornin after crusin the Tennesee countryside for 2 hours. Beautiful country, hours of 2 lane road and hillsides, grazing animals and a whole load of houses with multiple cars in the driveway(read that as front lawn)....none newer than 1976, some sans hoods, tires or interiors.....
The town of Lynchburg has a listed populaiton of 512. I walked thru just about the entire town center in under 2 hours. Here on Long Island the local malls are about th size of Lynchburg and the town centers around the distillary. Jim was saying that the high schools give out diplomas and job applications to the distillary and graduation. People there are great. Showed me what real southern hospitality is. Everyone in town was great, pleasent and fdown to earth.
Met up with Jim Minion as soon as I arrived. Jim introduced me to Ray Lampe(DrBBQ) and I was officially at the Jack. Didnt want to show up empty handed so brought a 20 lb Prime rib from NY, my rub and mariande. That didnt seem to go over all that well with DrBBQ, but Jim figured we'd find a home for a Prime rib pretty easy among friends. I new a few other teams down there also and they know my prime rib, so that wasn't and issue...... Figured that be dinner Friday night. Well.. part of the JD Invitational is a dinner "on the Hill" where the contestants go to a local restaurant for dinner and lots 'O Jack. So since dinner was gonna be covered by the contest, the prime rib was at risk of becoming leftovers.
Thanks to Jim Minion, i got introduced to a bunch of players in the Jack including Chris Lilly, who is a great, great guy. Talking with Chris is like talking to your next door neighbor and friend. Although he was busy as hell and usually surrounded, he was real easy and willing to talk, had no condescending attitude that I found on some big name players.
I got adopted by Dizzy Pigs BBQ team. What a great bunch of guys.. went over to their tent was greated with a shot glass of Jack, a cold drink and was introduced to the whole team. While hangin out drinkin and shootin sh*t, the team captain got hungry.. was lookin for somethin.. Eureka!! aI volunteered to cook.... LUNCHTIME. They welcomed a big ass prime rib with and open pit and empty stomach... I got to cook for the team and made the orphaned Prime rib on the newest model of the Big Green Egg. Awesome Cooker.... holds heat like a vault and will crank up to 700-800 degrees real fast.... A little harder to cool it down becase of its ability to hold that heat. Very efficent cooker. Hung out a good part of the afternoon with Dizzy Pigs and in between I made my way around the hollow meeting up with other teams I knew. Would check in with Jim and DrBBQ to see if they needed any extra hands, but these guys have it down to a science and its like they're cooking for there family... So i just kept going back out to mingle. Everyone was great.. always greated with a smile and usually shot glass. Spotted Rich From Lost Nation( one of our new members) dragged em over to dizzy pigs for some beef. :)
I kept our apron and cap on the whole time and cant tell ya how many times I heard " i know that group" or "I belong to those guys". Best one was, while i was talking with greg & nancee from Purple Turtle.. one guys looks at the logo and says "The Brethren ??? Where'd u get that apron.. I know those guys." Followed by something like "how do you know them" ....I found it funny someone is asking me that question... so after the crooseyed look..... i say "I know them... I'm the Grand Poobah"...(yeah i said that..... too many shots)
what a riot.. Buzz(2 fat).. looks at me like im nuts... Phil?... yup... Me and Buzz ran into each other and didnt even know it..
Another group.... From Jamaica.. Sunset Spas was their name.. these guys can party!!! What a riot.. hung with them for a while and was cramped in the cheeks from laughin and smiling.. they had the Swiss Team and the Mexican team next to them and it was a great time there too. All the teams just wandered from tent to tent partying like old friends. Met Myron Mixon from Jacks Old South , The team of Natural Born grillers were also a great bunch.. and the Goody Girls form Texas had a team of what looked like 50 people, all in uniforms. check out the pictures. Those are the gus in black pants, white shirts, black vests and cowboy hats.... The visual alone can be intimidating...
I spent most of friday going around the hollow meeting people and talking BBQ. Soaked up technigues and ideas like a sponge and will be trying stuff out this week. Went to the hotel around 1-2am.
Saturday morning.. met up with Buzz to drive back to the hollow... hes a morning person.. i am not.. plus the shots of Jack from friday took there toll... Got there and went to see if any help was needed under Jims tent... nope.. its amaing how they operate.. the area was immaculate, all stuff is done inside the trailer in the kitchen... thats seems to make life alot easier than my way with the open trailer and luggin stuff out and setting up.. I have to give some serious thought on either selling my new trailer and getting a covered one, or making mine a permanent kitchen somehow. Either way, they were on there way.. so, so was I.
I wandered all around again, this time stayin away from the teams, just peekin in to say good morning and take a few pictures, but not get in the way.. always offered some help and did a few odd jobs for some of the teams, usually grunt work or something time consuming that they couldnt get to.... i was labled an "itinerant" by one group of teams that kept givin me stuff to do, they asked if I'd check in once in a while....and I was happy to!! It was great to be walking around and hear someone yellin for me.. "We need some help!"... Sometimes it was washing dishes....or prep work.... but the best was helpin to choose what looked best or even better was the "which tastes better?"... I got to sample some really good stuff down there. Although one or two teams were kind of "secretive" of there presentations, most were open and seeked opinions and ideas... Saw lots of presentations and got to taste some great stuff, as well as some pretty mediocre stuff. Most of the cookers there were big rigs and pellet cookers. A few teams use the green eggs as swear by them. Nearly every tent there had a WSM doing something. But the majority were big stick burners and pellet cookers.
After final turnins, i wandered around more.. talking to the teams as they shut down menatally and physically. Was real careful not to cross any bounds... Again, almost everyone there was outstanding. They were fun, and great to hang out with. I did meet up with an ego or 2 that I just chose to avoid.
One thing i do know.. and i want to tell every one of us who are competing or thinking about it... i tasted alot of stuff down there, from both, contestants and vendors with loads of championships under their belts. You had to be good just to get there... And every one here should know this
... The stuff some of us make here... its just as good if not better than some of the heavy hitters. I tasted some of the stuff a few winners produced. Some was unbelievable that i can only hope to achieve.. yet some was nothing more than mediocre. Surprisingly mundane. We(The Brethren)have made stuff in my backyard that rose well above what was submitted at the world championship.
Alot of us here have been cooking for 10-15-20 years. We just have not competed. But our experience is invaluable and can't be denied. There are teams there that have only few years experience... some of the winners have only been cooking for a few years. The difference between them and us is that they are going to the events. Judges are tasting their product, not just friends and families. The stuff that i have had that our members have made, stuff produced at our bashes by a load of drunks(me included)... were just as good and sometimes better than some stuff I sampled this weekend. So for anyone who thinks they aint good enough, think again. Anyone on any given day can win an event. The final word is that of the judges, and what you or I think may suck, they may think is outstanding. Theres only one way to know how you will do at an event....
All in all it was a great time.. Met a load of great people. In my journies, I carried a Brethren apron and had every team there sign it. i got nearly all of them. This is the only souviegner I brought back... I think it will do.
pictures are uploaded.