Posts Tagged ‘Fun times’

BBQ CRAWL – 10 states, 32 cities and a whole lotta BBQ!

Its been an incredibly busy and exciting time as I get ready to hit the road for BBQ Crawl !! Fantastic working with RTR Media, Glassbox TV and the Travel & Escape Channel.  Its seriously awesome to know Ill get to eat at some of my favorite BBQ joints with some amazing BBQ folks and compete in KCBS contests as well ! 10 States, 32 cities in 6 weeks plus  BBQ competitions= amazing!! In addition we have been competing every weekend we can on the KCBS circuit.  I really want people to see the world of BBQ through my eyes. How much fun it is from Competitions to legendary pitmasters and BBQ people from all over. I love the stories I love the history of BBQ and hell it just tastes damn good too!! Starting where I had my BBQ Epiphany in Texas and ending at the worlds largest BBQ contest the American Royal its going to be a blast!

 
 

I hope to catch you on the BBQ trail…….. I’ll post locations as we confirm them :-)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The American Royal 2011 Invitational & Open

 

Wow. What a trip. What a challenge. I am still sleep deprived and catching up on blog posts……

 

I flew into Kansas to compete in the American Royal Invitational and the Open. It was a blast. Absolutely exhausting and completely absorbing.


My illustrious site. One 10×10 tent 1 table and a really cool Q Kitchen equipped with an FE and a mack daddy char-broiler.

I am lucky to have some great friends all over. Truly once again let me repeat BBQ people are awesome. They do anything and everything to help. So with friends like Andy & Kim Groneman and the Early family, I had everything I needed to compete. Bare bones but all of the essentials. A complete kitchen with an FE and a charbroiler, a Tent a cot, some coolers and friends to help. I had stocked up the previous day with Kim at BBQFans, Liberty Fruit and the hen house and I was all set.

 

 

However I will say my site had to be one of the worst possible locations ever. Horrible would be an understatement. I was right along the end of the entrance (AKA  HALLWAY OF HELL! – see below)  for the folks heading into the dark side and when they wanted to drag their drunk obnoxious loud asses home they had to go right by my site again.

Then there was the lovely* cleaning crew located right around the corner that seemed to take great joy every morning at 3am waking all of us up with their noise. They didn’t stop till well past 7 or 8 am.

Total sleep for 2 days less than 6 hours. Total times I wanted to throttle someone ————- I can’t count that high.

My super comfy cot with Big Poppas Smokers Sweater pillow.

Just an example of two of the drunks that stumbled by.  Freak clowns. I should have just set up a video camera.

Sleep deprivation aside it was a challenge. I have only cooked on an FE 3 times prior to this. Thank fully I had taken Butcher BBQ and Plowboys class and they covered how they run their meats in their FE’s In addition Andy was uber helpful. Anytime you do 2 contests back to back it is a challenge :-)

I got to spend some time socializing with friends and thats a big part of getting to go to the Royal


I also had a couple of Texans – Chris Jones and David Henry plus Neil Strawder with me to run boxes and to help where they could. That was a really fun part of the weekend. Loved hanging with the guys.

I also got to spend time with a Legend and dear friend of mine Dave Raymond from Sweet baby Rays. I love this guy. He rocks.

The Royal is an interesting contest. On day one for the Invitational I came in 88th out of 141 and in the Open 81st out of 498 . Not stellar by any means. It was a challenge and I am really glad I did it no matter what the results.  It was an excellent personal challenge just to get through it all. I know I made some good BBQ.

Another huge highlight for the weekend had to be participating in a steak throw down as part of the KCBS tour !I got to compete against Heath Hall of Pork Barrel BBQ Fame. We had a blast with this and it was tons of fun!!

I had a huge surge of patriotic Canadian pride seeing 2 of my fellow countrymen Tim Brown and Daryl Maybanks from Can’t Stop Grilling take Reserve Grand Championship in the open!! They had a rough Invitational and came out on top HUGE congrats to them both and for also using Kingsford as it doubled their prize money!! WTG guys!!

Congratulations to all who got their name called and to everyone who just survived the Royal again!!

Results for both Days Invitational (Congratulations Tippycanoe BBQ Crew GC!) and Open (Congratulations Motley Que Crew GC!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow its been a busy few weeks ! BBQ from BC to Buffalo and then back to Canada !!

I must sincerely apologize for the delay in posting I have been busier than a bee. We have been travelling from BC to Buffalo competing!

In Langley BC I had the distinct pleasure of teaching once again at Well Seasoned. It was a terrific set of days we had a sold out classes for Ribs and received a lot of positive feedback from the classes.

 

Then we headed up to the gloriously beautiful Whistler BC to compete at the Canadian National BBQ Championships!!  This is the most gorgeous location to have a BBQ competition. At the base of the mountains beautiful wisps of smoke plume upwards . It is a sight to behold for sure. Our site was once again shared with the teams from Well Seasoned with pitmaster Angie Quaale and David Gassaway, Praire Smoke & Spice with pitmaster Rob Reinhardt and Jaci Reinhardt.  We all get along really well and there was a lot of sharing involved with cooking techniques and recipes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to Wine Country Q for their GC and to the Canadian Team Well Seasoned RGC and the ticket to the Jack !!!! We received 7th in burger and 6th in King of the Q,  1st place pork and the rest lets just forget about it till next year. Overall we came in 13th out of 43 teams. It was not our best results for sure. They really didn’t like our food other than our pork this year. Oh well. We still had a blast!

Angie and David. Wow were they ever surprised awesome to see!!

After flying back from BC we had just 36 hours to prep and pack for the Taste of Country Nationals in Buffalo BC. Talk about some quick packing!!

This new event combines great country music family friendly events, BBQ vending and of course a BBQ competition. Moe Cason from Ponderosa BBQ and I were asked to go on the local TV station ABC WKBW News 7 in Buffalo and do a short segment on the event!!

The event was a blast to do and the crowds were enormous. The vendor lines never stopped the entire time we were there and there were hundreds of people in the Peoples Choice tasting lines as well. For this contest we were joined by a Ninja. No kidding. A Pork Ninja named Jamie. :-) We were really appreciate of his help all weekend for sure and we could not have done the sampling without him.


We were lucky enough to come home with some hardware!! 1st place pork 3rd Chicken 7th ribs 13th brisket for 5th overall. Plus for the first time ever we won 1st place people’s choice. that was a big thrill for us. We usually don’t participate in peoples choice. This one was a blind peoples choice for pork. IT was a thrill for sure and we will be back next year.

Then right after awards we raced back to Canada for a VIP catering event for some lovely folks.

Catering table as we were setting up.

Good times but we are now taking a well deserved long overdue …weekend off. Catch you next week!!

 

The American Royal Invitational & Open Oh my flip what a trip…

* Picture courtesy of Sean Moffat  Red Valley BBQ

Team Diva Q- Lexi, Ella, Gabe, Vlado, Danielle Dimovski


So the family all 5 of us packed into the truck and cargo trailer with enough equipment and stuff for 3 competitions and we hit the road to Kansas City Missouri. We had the privilege of competing in both the invitational and the open portions of the contests.

We decided due to our little ones to do a large portion of the first leg of the drive at night. We made incredible time and arrived in Kansas about 6 hours ahead of our schedule….

The trip was really uneventful. We even breezed through customs. a first for us for the entire year. We usually allocate at least an hour or so to get through since we always seem to be getting inspected. We never have anything thats contraband but Homeland Security does their job faithfully. We did however get to have a really good donut on the road from a place called Casey’s General Store a chain of convenience stores that carries really darn good donuts. (* I have my BBQ BFF Angie Quaale to thank for my new obsession with donuts she can smell out a good donut from 100 miles away)

We had one issue on the way that caused us considerable pain. Our 6 year old daughter Ella is a Vegetarian with exceptions. Notable she loves bacon and ribs and then all things vegetable. We had picked up a 2 lb bag of green beans.

She decided to eat the entire bag. Lets just say the windows were down for many miles after her indulgence. Ack. Stinky!

One of the best parts of this trip was heading to our good friends Andy and Kim’s house from Smoke on Wheels.  Our kids like hanging out with their kids and staying at their house was a whole lotta fun. Additionally Neil Big Mista Strawder and Shelly Hunt from Desperados BBQ were also hanging at their house. Just saying but a few adult beverages may have been consumed prior to this video.

Andy knows where to get everything you would ever need in the Kansas City area and arriving ahead of schedule we got to drop the trailer off early on Wednesday. Driving in was a thrill and sheesh is this place ever big. The you tube videos I had seen of it in the past in no way give you the magnitude of the location. It is awe inspiring. My backing up the trailer skills are poor on a good day so I can’t imagine having to do it in a field of other trailers already crammed in. Andy ended up backing it in anyways.

I also got a tour around the facility by Andy who has been many times before. Cool to see a lot of the artwork and attractive posters.

Then we were off to a really cool store Ambrosi Brothers Cutlery. I left my knives to be sharpened and picked up another knife, case and covers as well.

We could not be all the way into Kansas and Missouri without stopping at the Kansas City BBQ Store and Eating at Oklahoma Joes. Good places both of them and conveniently for us side by side.

Oklahoma Joes had great food and a sammie called a Z Man Sandwich. Just abut everything was great but we found the pork a bit dry. We were there after the lunch rush though.

On another evening we attended a Pre Royal Party at Knuckleheads. It was once heck of an adventure to get to this place. Its is literally out in the middle of an industrial park directly next to a set of train tracks and one of the best places I have ever been to listen to some awesome music.
The musical guest for the evening was Tab Benoit. He rocked the house and everyone was up dancing carousing and having a great time. Many pops were consumed and we had a blast with many BBQ Brethren, the Smokin Scotsmen’ , Shelley Hunt from Desperados, the British BBQ team, Karen Walker,  my BBQ BFF Angie & Dennis Quaale, and their fab kids Andrew and Kim and a bunch of other people. Here is a video I took the sound bites royally wish my BB had better video capability.


So much excitement and we had not even begun the competition yet. I loved coming in early!!
After Knuckleheads we headed back to Kim and Andy’s house. Andy helped me pick out the ribs from the selection I had that I would use for the next two competitions. I made a decision to use St. Louis spares for both competitions. It had been a while (with the exception of BBQ Pitmasters) since I had used them in competition. Then we all headed to bed and then got up early to head to the site.
Setting up was easy and we had the pleasure to have very nice neighbors on either side of us. #709 three Little Kettles (who provided our kids with an entire play table full of coloring books stickers and more!! they were incredibly kind!) and #705 Pop’s Blazin Smokers (they did gator on the Traeger!!)

I got everything prepped for the Invitational and we went and did some visiting. This was the hardest contest I have ever had to concentrate at. There are so many people you would like to get around to see and visit with and its always a race against the clock to get back in time.
One of our neighbors behind us was Mike & Debbie Davis from Lotta Bull. I tried shigging (at least I admit it) from him but he was too far away. Darn.

Another one of the highlights for me was getting to see my dear friends Roni & Kelly Wertz, Joey McManus, and Chris Jones. We missed Dave Raymond though in our Royal Experience.

So many great people to see……

I took a video walking around a bit.

I even went over to the dark side one night accompanied by a really big strong Texan and a guy from Illinois that can run really fast if needed

Those people on the dark side are certifiably insane. You could not pay me to BBQ on that side. Too many parties people throwing up and a whole lot of debauchery. Not my cup of tea really.
Since we had the kids with us we were really protective of our site space. Noting some previous experiences that friends of mine have also had at the Royal we purchased locks for all of our BBQ’s so they and the meats inside didn’t walk off. We also blocked off the front of our site and our neighbors put up fences so people would stop walking through our site. Once secured it made the experience a whole lot more pleasant.

I had some awesome visitors to our site Jim “Rhino” Reincke was just one of them. He is sooo funny.  I don’t think there is enough net space to list just how much I appreciated each of our visitors. They were all terrific to see!!

We headed out to one of the pot lucks we had been invited to. Sadly you just can’t get around to everything you get invited to. It was the annual Wertz Royal Prime Rib dinner. It was awesome. We brought a peach cobbler and there was so much food and all of it was delicious.

The day of the Invitational dawned and we received a really nice present a box of donuts from our friends Sean and Adriane Moffat. God Bless them both for their kindness!! Sean also took pictures throughout the weekend. We really appreciate that as well. MMMM Red velvet donuts. Yummy!!


Everything for the invitational ran really smoothly until the rib category. The ribs were soft and mushy and I was ticked to say the least. I had been checking them so often I was shocked to see them go so soft so fast. We turned them in but I knew they would not do well. At least the box looked good. Overall in the other categories of brisket, pork, and chicken I was really happy with what we turned in. The brisket was especially good. We had 3 different briskets and all of them turned out the best we had made for the year.

Doing all of the side dishes wiped me right out. Beans, vegetable, dessert and potatoes. Its a lot of turnins for one cook to handle. We got them in just barely in some cases. Most notable the vegetable category which we had mixed up with the bean turn in time. We ended up grilling a vegetable sidedish and turning it in all within 8 minutes. Holy cow batman that was a close one for sure. Please note in future I will read the rules a little more carefully on turn in times.

Mike Mills stopped by and he hung out in our trailer while I was prepping our dessert, It was great to see him again. Such a legend of BBQ glad to be able to call him and Amy our friends. Didn’t even have time to get a picture with him LOL.

Much thanks to Sean Moffat for help with blocking when we were delivering our dessert there were so many people I don’t think we could have done it without him!!

Sean got a nice picture with him in front of our sign


We cleaned ourselves up grabbed a cocktail and headed to the awards.

It was a thrill to hear our team name called for a 6th place in brisket. It was AWESOME!!!!


I was so excited I thought I was going to pass out……
At the end of the awards ceremony we were thrilled to see the results of the pork 30th, chicken 26th, and brisket 6th for a 35th place overall.
I was horrified and embarrassed though to see out ribs had come 4th from last 127th UGH. I knew they were overcooked. Damn. That sucked so bad.
Congratulations to Smokers Wild on the GC and Tippy Canoe BBQ Crew for their RGC!!! Also congratulations to Smoky D’s BBQ for getting a perfect 180 in their pork.

Also congratulations to Mike & Beth Woziak from Quau who won the Kingsford Cup and a check for $25,000!!

Another cool thing I got to see was my friend Jenny Windsor from Black Cat BBQ getting a 6th in ribs then to see her brand spanking new Sisters In Smoke Tattoo!! That makes three of us that have them now!! To all the other ladies of Q you need to get one as well!!


Then you get to do it all over again. You are tired, the awards ceremony has been the thrill of the day and you need to keep focused and go back to the trailer and complete another competition. Its not easy. I only slept 1.25 hours that night, I was behind in prep, making parsley boxes and taking care of the meats. Anyone who thinks competitive BBQ is not a sport should try to do 2 competitions back to back.

Our kids also enjoyed the fireworks before heading off to bed. Sadly we had broken our tent pole when setting up so we had their bedroom set up in a 10×10 easy up with their inflatable couch and mattress. I think they had probably 10 blankets on top of their sleeping bags. They were sure comfy!

Even though I was behind I went for a little walk to clear my head and visit with a few folks as well.  Figured that it would be a good think to relax just a bit before getting serious again.

Dawn came really early and we were all set.

A girl needs a little Canadian Mojo in the AM so crown Royal shots were taken around for anyone who wanted one!

I had to grill some of our Canadian bacon (sweet cured pork loin rolled in cornmeal) we had brought with us to hand out to our friends.

Plus I was in dire need of caffeine so I whipped up a batch of my legendary competition sludge a compilation of 5 shots instant espresso, and super strongly brewed Starbucks coffee with powdered whitener and sugar. It is guaranteed to get your butt in gear.

So much so that when I was walking about Phil from the Brethren made a comment that I could not stay still for a second. It gets you moving for sure….

Back to the grind…..

Brisket was looking great again.

Chicken was looking great! Ribs were good and they had awesome color and texture!

Pork got turned in and we had a whole lot of rejected meat !

Brisket gt turned in and I was really happy with it. Here is the chaos though that was left behind. I had tough time deciding which brisket to turn in.

Sausage came up last and I was sure glad we were done. I can’t remember ever entering a sausage category before so I just made a fatty of some sausage I liked to eat and hoped for the best. 

Once again it was time for the awards and we were wiped and excited all at the same time. My friends the Belly Brothers furnished me with a new favorite cocktail courtesy of team Jamaica its a combination of Appleton Estates Rum and Coconut water. Yummy stuff.

I loaded up my pockets with my good luck charms, an acorn from my daughter Ella, a poker chip with the Pellet Envy logo on it, a rubber chicken and a pig flash light. I was also wearing a cancer awareness Angel Ribbon Pin from Flower of the Flames on behalf of Karen Putnam.

Photo credit Karen Dove BBQ TV

Then we were all off to the awards again- this time over 500 teams were in attendance (participating teams 490)

*My BBQ BFF Angie Quaale from Completely Q-less at the awards

It was again a thrill to hear our name called this time though it was for a 12th place in ribs. I had tears in my eyes accepting this one. I was standing behind Mike Davis and was joking with him -I really think he thought I was going to pass out as well.

I have to admit a few emails during the night and early morning got my confidence back up about ribs after the demoralizing finish in the Invitational. The person who sent them is a good friend and Ill keep their name to myself  but you know who you are. Thanks for the kind words of encouragement it meant a lot to me. I took your advice,  I went back to an old recipe I haven’t used in 2 years with one minor twist I added a new rub. Here is of the rubs I used..

Usually I would not mention what rub I used but this was really special since it was from a dear friend Chris Jones from Colins Creek Barbecue one of my all time favorite BBQ people on the planet.

We joked prior to the awards on how cool it would be if I got a call in ribs. The rub has not been out that long. It really is terrific. You all need to try it.

The awards ceremony was coming to a close and hearing friends names get calls was incredible. We also got a 6th place call in Potatoes. That cracked me right up..I had no idea what to do for the potato category. Our friends Kim and Andy were heading to a difference potluck from the night before and were making their dish Ho De Ho potatoes. Since they were not entering any of the sidedish categories I asked if I could use their recipe. I entered it thinking it was a good dish that everyone like to eat at potlucks. It worked LOL

When it came time for the overall standings I was busy chatting up with our friends. Then the shock of a lifetime came Diva Q came in 10th overall. Oh my flip. I think I blanked out for a minute. What a cool thing to happen.

The awards continued on and 3rd place went to Pelletheads.com

RGC went to Swine Assassins and the GC went to Lotta Bull for the 4th time!!!

I came away from the Royal with absolutely no prize money at all. I have never been happier….. The trip was expensive for us. It was time consuming exhausting it was a lot of planning and juggling of schedules and at times extremely stressful and fun all at the same time. Seeing our friends and BBQ family plus meeting folks I have only dreamed of meeting plus being with our own family was without a doubt one of the highlights of my BBQ career. I can never thank my friends and family enough for their support their love and unending belief in my obsession that is BBQ. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I can’t wait for next year.

More Pictures from the event can be found on our facebook Diva Q American Royal Album !

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