We were in Monroe Michigan over the weekend. This was a first time KCBS contest at their fairgrounds. The town is beautiful. No matter what we will be putting this event back on our calender for next year.
We arrived and were immediately welcomed. Shown to our spot for the weekend we took in our surroundings. It was lovely. We have a beautiful level grass site with individual power and water hook-ups. There were really spotless bathrooms just a short walk away and SHOWERS! The judge’s tent wasn’t very far away either. Twenty five teams had gathered for this event. In addition there were lots of experienced judges.
There was a potluck arranged by the nice folks from Great Lakes BBQ Supply (an awesome store for BBQ shopping!!) had brought in a ranch kettle for all to use to cook a protein and we brought a deep dish cheesecake to share. Got to meet the AW Hell BBQ team – super nice people although I did pass on their bucket of jello shots. Got to visit with a lot of GLBBQA folks we don’t see often enough.
It was one of the quietest competitions I have ever been to. At about 10:30/11pm you could hear the crickets chirping. It seemed like everyone was quietly enjoying the star filled night.
All of our meats went on with no problems. Everything looked good in fact. One small problem I encountered was the battery in my thermapen went and I had to borrow another from a friend (thanks Scott!). Other than that is was smooth sailing for the entire night and into the morning.
In the morning the chicken went on with no problems as did the ribs. They looked great. Then came turn in time. Looked at the clock and something was wrong. Went outside the trailer and the other clock was showing a different time. Looked at my blackberry it showed another time. I had no idea what time it really was. Minutes and seconds count in competition BBQ.
To make a long painful story short my chicken turn in was 20 seconds late. Disqualified in Chicken. DAL. DQ whatever you call it – it sucked worse than anything I have ever experienced at a comp. Disgust, disappointment, embarrassment, anger, frustration and a whole lot of other emotions went through me at that moment.
My jaw dropped and I felt horrible for Vlad as he passed me the box back. He was mortified as was I. I just sat in the trailer and just looked at the turn in box of chicken – it seemed to be taunting me. How did this happen? Are you kidding me? It’s my fault the box should have gone in sooner. Last minute adjusting and cleaning had cost us a ton of KCBS points and a chance to win. I didn’t cry. I was more angry with myself than that. Wanting to hit or throw something – I threw the turn in box of chicken and all into the trash and cursed a few times. I took a picture of it to remind me never to let that happen again. My heart just sunk and I wanted to be anywhere but in that trailer at that moment. I wanted to crawl under a rock. All that chicken prep the box had looked delicious all that work for nothing. I didn’t come 5 1/2 hours for nothing.
Told Vlad to give me some space (smart man he went outside and did some packing) and tried desperately to get my head together for ribs. I really had a hard time focusing on them. The box looked like shit when I turned it in and I was in the “I don’t give a crap frame of mind. “ Horrible thinking.
Between categories I was really impressed with Mike Lake. He came over to check on us to make sure we were alright. That showed a lot of class and I thank him and Theresa for their kind words and sympathies. I felt horrible for them as well. That cannot be easy for reps to do.
Gave myself a little pep talk – get over it I told myself. That’s all I could do at that time. I got refocused and turned in some really terrific pork and some yummy brisket. That was all I could do. I have never been so relieved that a competition was over.
I poured myself a very strong vodka tonic with lots of lime and reviewed the day. Took notes of things I need to do differently in the future. Then we just wanted to pack and leave as fast as possible.
A few friends popped by and offered their condolences. They knew just how low I was at that moment. We went to the awards to cheer for our friends but when our pork was called for 1st and our brisket was called for 3rd there was no joy in it for me. I was much happier listening to our friends getting called.
A highlight for us was watching Bavarian Smoke pitmaster Dick & Lori get their very 1st GC !! This was their bung for the Jack draw! Huge congratulations to them and to all those who got calls !
Reserve Grand Champion Smokin Aces CrapShoot BBQ, pitmaster Mark Rasmussen was a true class act after awards. As we were leaving we went to say good bye. He gave me a big hug and said we would have had the RGC or higher and that he back-doored it in. He said he knew it the second he saw the scores. I told him we would never know maybe the judges would not have liked our chicken ( I thought it would have scored at least a 165 or above). It was still nice of him to acknowledge our scores which were in the running. I appreciated those very kind words. Class act.
It took us forever to get home and it was a really quiet drive. Vlad and I were just bummed out. We both work very hard just like other teams out there. It just sucked.
So there it is in a nutshell the worst competition day of my life. It sucked and was a hard lesson to learn. I pray for each team on the circuit to never have to experience this. I sure as hell will do everything I can to never let it happen again.