I was clued into the Grill Kings event at Belmont Racetrack this last weekend by fellow blogger Rob Fernandez at WhiteTrashBBQ. Having never attended a BBQ competition before, I jumped at the chance to see talented amateur ‘Q fanatics strut their stuff, and possibly taste real competition barbecue.
I was totally unprepared for the experience. First, the incredible, oppressive heat and humidity that weekend (high 90s), the tremendous enthusiasm and manic energy of the teams, and then coming to the realization (as many others did) of just how badly this particular event was run.
Still, I had a really good time and I learned a lot of what goes on at these particular events, and I’ve got a better idea of how I will weather the next one.
Here’s some of the photos captioned, have a look at the entire Flickr album as well. If you recognize yourself or your food here, give me a shout at email@example.com and I’ll be happy to send you a hi-res version.
One of the barbecue vendors. At a competition, spectators are not normally allowed to sample the ‘Q being cooked by the competitors, so various vendors and BBQ restaurants have stalls where you can get some stuff to eat.
Brisket Sandwich from Hog House in Huntington, NY. (Vendor)
Pulled Pork Sandwich from Hog House. (Vendor)
Ribs from Big Daddy’s BBQ is Massapequa, NY (Vendor)
BBQ Brethren/Brothers In Smoke, one of the teams I was invited to observe at the event. They placed 7th at the event overall. Here they are injecting a brisket with marinade.
Chicken from BBQ Brethren, one of their competition entries, which got 5th place.
Pork Shoulder from BBQ Brethren.
BBQ Brethren pork (above, also) being sauced prior to plating / submission.
BBQ Brethren’s pork entry, which placed 3rd.
The other team I was invited to observe was Hill Country, which is slated to open a restaurant in NYC in late 2006/early 2007. Hill Country is also the organizer of the NYC BBQ event. Hill Country ended up placing 6th overall at the event.
This was Hill Country’s chicken wing submission.
Hill Country’s pork chops being grilled prior to submission.
An anxious Mr. Cutlets (Josh Ozersky)
Hill Country team member Josh Ozersky (“Mister Cutlets”) with team member/owner Rob discussing done-ness level of the pork chop entry.
Hill Country Pork Chops being portioned for the judges.
Pork Chops, final plating for judges by Hill Country.
Ribs from Purple Turtle BBQ which placed 10th. Purple Turtle placed 5th at the event overall.
Ribs from Purple Turtle BBQ, Closeup
Brisket from Purple Turtle BBQ, which placed 8th.
Big Papa’s BBQ cooking up wings.
Chicken entry from Big Papa.
Team “Smoke In Da Eye”
While not an official KCBS event category, Smoke In Da Eye brought a Caja China and cooked a whole pig for their own consumption to test out. A Caja China can cook an entire pig in four hours, hence earning the name “Cuban Microwave”.
Al Bottari with The Camo Q Crew. I love his camouflage painted smokers and their battle dress uniforms.