Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Saskatoon - Smoke on the Water

Results: 1st place brisket, 1st place chicken, 1st place ribs, 2nd place pork butt
Overall: Grand Champion

This was the first incarnation of Smoke on the Water in Saskatoon, an event pulled together by the Saskatoon BBQ Association. This competition had everything going for it - beautiful location, thousands of spectators, great live bands, vendors, kids activities, and a All-you-can-eat-in-5-minutes rib competition. The only thing it didn't have going for it was teams. Five teams showed up, and while that makes for some great opportunities to spend some time with your fellow competitors, it's not the most competitive environment.
All 5 teams were experienced competitors though, which was great. And all 5 teams were fantastic people to hang out with - Burnside BBQ from MB has family in town so they showed up with friends in tow and they were definitely the biggest team there, I'm sure I saw 15 shirts walking around. Their 3 drums and home built pellet burner drew lots of interest from the crowd. Local team Prairie Fire Oink were our neighbors and we greatly enjoyed their company... The cooked up the best salmon I've had in my life for the Chef's Choice event. Schryers BBQ from Saskatoon were team #4, these guys have built their catering & restaurant business in only 12 months and they now own Saskatoon. Great guys and they got some BBQ skillz to boot. They hosted the rib eating comp on saturday and raised hundreds of dollars for the Children's Wish Foundation. Last but certainly not least we got the opportunity to meet Canada's Diva Q, who gave up here weekend to fly into Sask to get her first taste of competition in the West. It was truly an honor to meet her, get to know her, and pick her brains about the BBQ world. Extra congrats to her for the Chef's Choice entry that rocked the judges table, she also cruised right into the RGC position with her food. This cross-canada BBQ participation must continue... I wish it was easier for us to go to Ontario comps and vice versa, but there's that nasty 30 hour drive that always gets in the way.

I can honestly say that this was absolutely the most fun I've had at a competition. Dad was my cooking partner for the weekend and made an incredible teammate. I really enjoyed that, and I really enjoyed having my whole family out for the weekend - Special thanks to mom for watching the kids all weekend and bringing them out for the fun times of the comp. Jacy (wife) made the tightest, neatest, turn in trays I've ever seen. Wow.

Saturday the Schryers hosted the previously mentioned Rib eating competition. 15 competitors surrounded the tables, each with a big tray of spares - 3 racks in total. (cut into individual bones) Once the bell rang, we all dove in. Things got messy in a hurry. I really didn't think 3 racks would be a problem, but there's no way I could have finished them. Fortunately I got closer than anyone else though... even Diva who managed to kick my ass through most of the time period... Somehow I still came out on top. Little bones she says. Hmph. ;-)

As for the rest of the competition... The butts and brisket were done early. I mean really early. I mean 5 hours before turn in early. But that's the way it goes. Technically they were only done a couple hours before I expected them to be done, and all was fine. Once they're wrapped and into the Cambro, they just get better and better as time passes... The brisket was actually a bit overcooked, but with some creative slicing we managed to do well with our tenderness scores. I was having so much fun I forgot about chicken, we were 15 minutes late getting it started. Through the rush we ended up getting them done 10 minutes early. I really liked how the sauce set up on that chicken while it rested on the Traeger for that extra 10 minutes, so I'm going to modify the timing to include that step in the future. Ribs I thought were overcooked until I sliced them up, then it was just a matter of choosing 6 perfectly cooked bones.
Chef's Choice on this day was turned in an hour after the last meat, which was just enough time to assemble and grill our entry. I was happy with it, and I think it will do well in the future, as soon as we figure out how to work with meringue and whipped cream in the heat and humidity. The thing just didn't hold together.
We managed to pull off G.C. two contests in a row... and with my whole family there to witness it I couldn't have been happier. After we packed up we took everyone out (6 adults, 4 little kids) to celebrate. Well where do you go celebrate on a Sunday night where the kids will behave? Ugh. Montanas. While the beer was cold, the salmon was dry and tasteless. But at least it wasn't more ribs...

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