Well, I'm finally able to sit down at the computer. After loading up Saturday night to come home I've had to sleep, find some family time, and clean and return the smoker we borrowed - hence I've been a little bit rushed.
We had great weather and overall a pretty good cookoff. Unlike Tim I didn't find the vending as much a distraction as a disappointment - we basically lost our butts $$$-wise - don't know why - maybe poor initial pricing, too near Thanksgiving, who knows.
Competition wise things went ok - I had some briskets the size of a couple of small European nations and they actually caused us some problems with timing and fire control. I'll let Tim cover that but suffice to say if we hadn't had two briskets, three pork butts, and three rib racks spread out between the three cookers we'd probably have had only chicken to turn it! :D
Teams of note, at least to me, were:
HomeBBQ.com - players in the FL circuit and they play at JD, AR, etc.
Smokers Wild from KC - only got Grand Champion!
Smokin Triggers from Texas
And a bunch of regional teams: Dumplin' Valley Cook Team, Big John's Texas BBQ, and a bunch more.
KCBS screwed up in scoring - they announced one of the top teams as 1st place AMATEUR - needless to say that stopped the show! Recount, recompute!! Just a administrative error but it bumped us from 4th to 5th in Chicken! :D
Our chicken looked really good and tasted great - Tim is going to post pics later, I think. Even our lettuce looked good!
Tim's been grumbling about the ribs, pork, and brisket - but they weren't a total loss since we managed to place 23rd out of 37 pro teams.
Chicken: 5th 878 888 879 898 899 867
Ribs: 33rd and I'd like to speak to judge #1
he/she gave us 9-2-2 and I'd really, really, like to know why! others were 756 667 745 754 878 Other than judge #1 I'll take the spanking - the ribs were not our best but were certainly not nasty (Tim disagrees - he wouldn't eat them! Oh well, more for me and mine :D) - the ones were turned in were a bit "tougher" than we like but would pull off the bone ok - tenderness could have been better and taste was ok but would have been influenced by everything else going on. Heck, I just ate the leftovers for lunch today and they were pretty good even it they fell off the bone at bit. (The other two racks were "dark" and definately overdone for turn-in - but still tasted good - more like a backyard effort.
Pork: 16th 767 766 878 898 777 877 - middle of the pack. Tim was upset that two of the butts didn't cooperate and the pulled that we did turn in was a bit over done but still quite tasty! We gave the judges plenty of bark and a nice pile of pulled meat. But, I'll agree that it wasn't good enough to place higher -- but thankfully it didn't stink up the place, either
Brisket: 20th - I was disappointed that we couldn't do better. We were a bit overdone and the bark was light - really tasty but light. We managed to get 7 decent slices and then I put a large portion of chopped point. Our second brisket just would not get done -- with the spaz on the pork, poor Tim was saying it was the first time he ever sliced pork butt and chopped brisket! :D
Other than the meat not cooperating the rest of the actual competition went pretty well. I had cleaned the demon lettuce on Thursday and wrapped it in damp paper towel and chilled it. So all I had to do Saturday was make up the boxes. I was never picking lettuce while trying to prepare the box -- maybe add a bit or reposition but no playing at the salad bar when the main course was coming!
If we can get some bills paid off we'll be hitting the competition trail in January. It's a toss up between Lakeland, FL (one of the biggest KCBS cook offs in FL) or the the first FBA cook off down in Sebring - we'll just have to see how it looks in a month or two.
I do agree with Tim that the vending is a pain in the butt - it was worth the effort for the experience and our wives did a great job keeping up with it but it was just one more thing to think about and the logistics of transporting and cooking 300# of turkey and 50# of brats was a pain. If we vend again it'll be to just sell off what we're already cooking!
Now that's not to say I won't try concession work on my own. I'm lining up a monthly bike rally (or two) and some other opportunities to sell food - gotta pay for this habit some way! :D