Comments Off on Interstate BBQ Festival Hagerstown, MD
by Mark Gibbs, Pitmaster of The Checkered Flag 500 BBQ
The second annual Interstate BBQ Festival is in the books for 2017. This competition has quickly become one of the “must-do” contests on the Mid-Atlantic schedule. In two short years, Rob Immer and his team have put together a well-organized, top flight contest that hosted 57 teams and Chamber of Commerce weather all weekend!
The contest hosted Dessert, Burger, Kid’s Que and People’s Choice categories as well this year. Dessert and Kid’s Que was brought home by We Rib U Long Time. Top scoring Burgers by Brother-Uncle BBQ and People’s Choice was brought home by the Sauce This! BBQ team. I am sure they put some addictive chemical in their people’s choice because they have people drooling every week!
Perhaps the most impressive presentation of the weekend was the MABA good luck shot hosted by Life is Good But BBQ is Better. Or more accurately, the good luck shot, bloody Mary bar, and food spread. Many folks pitched in and Don and Sandy Wallace played host to what will be hard to beat for future good luck shot hosts…but they’re sure encouraged to try! Check out videos here of the spread and actual toast given by LIGBBIB pitmaster Don Wallace!
This contest included a lot of vendors, bands and activities for everyone. Good Smoke BBQ from New York brought home KCBS Grand Championship. MABA’s own Drilling and Grilling from Glen Rock, PA brought home the Reserve Grand Championship. They are on a nice little roll here in the beginning of the season. Keep it up guys!
The Chicken category was won by 2 Rhodies BBQ and 2nd was Rhode Hog BBQ (I see a pattern here). Rib honors were brought home by Piggin’ Whiskey BBQ. These guys are starting to hit their stride in competition BBQ. Remember that team name folks! Drilling and Grilling brought home 1st Place honors in Pork and Bill Gillespie’s Smokin Hoggz MA brought home the big Brisket plank! Great job to all of the teams that were called and we hope to be back for year three of this great event!
Comments Off on MABA Team of the Year Scoring to be Conducted by BBQData.com
The MABA Board has entered into an agreement with BBQData.com to calculate the 2017 MABA Team of the Year Contest. The standings will update weekly as results are posted to MABA-approved sanctioning bodies. A link to the standings will be provided through the MABA website at www.mabbqa.com.
As a MABA member, you’ll be able to subscribe to BBQData.com for 10% off of the standard subscription price of $25. ($22.50 for MABA members.) Enter the code MABA2017 when you sign up. If you are already a BBQData.com subscriber and paid full price, you will be given a refund.
BBQData.com features include–
· View a synopsis for your team of the current year and prior years: The top ten scores, team averages and the number of contests by year.
· View scoring details for each meat category (Chicken, Ribs, Pork and Brisket) and the Overall score.
· See a summary of teams’ results. This is a quick way to get an overview of each team’s BBQ career.
· Get a snapshot of estimated points standings.
Several teams in the MABA area have been beta-testing BBQData.com for a few months, and find the service invaluable. Statistics update as soon as the contest results are posted by MABA-approved sanctioning bodies.
In addition, BBQData.com is always adding different features and benefits to the system.
Comments Off on Pitmaster Tip of the Month, David Bouska – Chicken Injecting!
by David Bouska, Owner of Butcher BBQ and Pitmaster of Butcher BBQ, contestant on _BBQ Pitmasters_
After 34 years of running meat markets, sausage counters, selling wholesale, and running a custom meat processing plant, I started cooking in our local BBQ competitions. From my very first contest I used an injection that I had developed for our meat shop. Over the next few years I tweaked the ingredients to make it more user friendly for the BBQ comp world. From there we packaged our original Beef Injection. We listened to our customers and added our Pork Injection. I have used the Premium Rub since my very first comp and added our Honey Rub next. With all this life long experiences I decided to bring the science to bbq.
In this video David Bouska will show us the right way to inject your chicken and illustrates his method by dying chicken blue…check it out here!
Comments Off on 12th Annual Recovery Fest/7th Annual BBQ State Championship Richmond, VA
by Mark Gibbs, Pitmaster of The Checkered Flag 500 BBQ
The McShin Foundation held its 7th annual KCBS sanctioned BBQ competition the weekend of September 9th and 10th. 25 teams came together in the 95 plus degree heat to compete and support the McShin Foundation in this annual BBQ battle.
The folks at the foundation put on a great contest with full amenities. The music, fellowship, cause and location of this contest make it a “must do” for many competitors. Despite the hot temps, all 25 teams got their entries in to the judges on time to make this contest a Jack and Royal qualifier. Honesty Liller, CEO of McShin did a great job of presenting the awards and taking care of the competitors. They really do make us a part of the family at this contest.
The results are in and I am happy to say that the Checkered Flag 500 BBQ Team repeated as Grand Champion this year successfully defending our title from 2015. Old Virginia Smoke of Bristow, Virginia with Luke and Kim Darnell and Leigh Anne Terry brought home the Reserve Grand Champion honors.
The Checkered Flag 500 team brought home top honors in Chicken and Brisket. Don and Sandy Wallace of Life is Good, but BBQ is Better from Purcellville, Virginia took home their first ever 1st Place Rib finish! Great job Don and Sandy! Top Pork honors went to J.D.’s Smokin Misfits of Virginia!
The Checkered Flag 500 Team also qualified for the OBR/BBQ for a Cause Virginia Champions championship at the 2017 contest in Urbanna, Virginia.
Congrats to every team that got a call and we are really looking forward to the 2017 event at McShin in Richmond!
First place winners:
Chicken – Checkered Flag 500 BBQ
Ribs –Life is Good But BBQ is Better
Pork –JD’s Smokin Misfits
Brisket –Checkered Flag 500 BBQ
Grand Champion –Checkered Flag 500 BBQ
Reserve Grand Champion –Old Virginia Smoke
Comments Off on A Chicken in a Pair of Blue Shorts
by Todd Rushing, Pitmaster for No Rush Q
One of the funniest things I have seen lately was a video of a chicken running around in a blue pair of shorts. I’m not sure why I thought this was so funny, but it was simple and it made me laugh. Why would someone put a chicken in a pair of shorts? Even better, why would someone post it on social media and it get thousands of views? Who thinks of this stuff? But it served its purpose and it caught my eye.
In the mastery of cooking KCBS chicken have we gone so far as to put our chicken in the preverbal “blue shorts”? Maybe so. Having cooked many competition over the past few years I am as guilty as the rest of trying to make the perfect pieces of symmetrical little pieces of meat that taste like chicken. Running the gamut of pans, tins, toothpicks and such to make that box get appearance scores of “9”.
All of us eat with our eyes first. If it looks great then we have won half of the battle. But who decides what looks great. Well of course the judges do, but have we polled them and asked lately what constitutes “great” looking chicken? I’m sure some have and others have not. But I am also sure that if you ask 10 judges you will most assuredly get 10 different answers of some variation therein. In the end, I know that appearance scores are not weighted nearly as high as taste and tenderness but you better not overlook them or your overall scores will suffer. However, as of late it does seem that chicken can look more like “chicken” and be okay. That’s good news in my book. It allows us to focus more on cooking the meat and flavor profiles.
This sport of competition barbecue is so very subjective. There is no defined goal line, goalpost, or home run wall that will give you a predetermined score. Your game plan must involve the knowledge and experience gained over time to hopefully be at least 1/10th of a point better than your competition. As it relates to chicken…well if that means putting it in blue shorts make sure you check his waist size and get some that fit nice!
by Craigie Mack Rudzenski, Pitmaster of Craigie Mack’s BBQ Shack
On Saturday, July 30th, Victory Brewing Company held their 8th Annual BrewBQ. The event was held at the Victory Brewing Company’s Parkesburg, PA location. While this event has been going on for years, this was the first time being held at this location. Upon arrival, Victory Brewing Company representative Amanda Giangiulio, and her team were directing competitors to their spots in the parking lot of the Brewery.
This is a one day, chicken and ribs contest that provides fun for the whole family. Upon arrival, teams were surprised to see…well…not much set up. The most recent weather reports that morning were calling for severe lightning storms later on during the day, therefore the outdoor beer garden, live music, kids area, variety of restaurants and vendors as well as games were all moved inside the Victory Brewing Company Brew Pub.
Competitors fired up the smokers and grills, prepped their meats, got them going and then the rains came. After some heavy winds and steady downpours, the rains finally let up, the ‘que was turned in (during a light drizzle, and up a flight of outdoor, metal stairs….talk about a nerve racking turn in!) the public was able to venture outside, enjoy some brews and visit and chat with all 27 teams in attendance.
Awards were announced inside the Brew Pub, and in the end, team “Here Come the Judge” took first place chicken. “Little Skips BBQ” won first place ribs. However, it was “Brandywine Smokers” who took Grand Champion (9th place chicken and 2nd place ribs), with Shaker City BBQ Taking the RGC (8th place chicken and 3rd Place ribs). Despite the weather, the Brew Pub was phenomenal, the crew at the Victory Brewing Company went above and beyond in assisting the teams and everyone is already looking forward to next year!
By Bill Jones, MABA Board Member and KCBS Master Judge, Table Captain, & Life Member
In this month’s “What’s in The Box” I will provide some info on what goes on once you drop off your boxes at turn in. Some of you may have never been inside the judging area and do not know all the steps it takes to get from drop off to the judges table. I hope this will be of interest.
So the clock is ticking down, the box needs to be turned in, and there are only seconds to spare when you arrive at turn in. Once dropped off, the box is moved behind a curtain or partition of some sort. Here, a new number is placed over the written number on the box, or YOUR team number. This now makes the box blind to judges as only the reps have the sheet to compare the team number to that of the box.
How do the boxes get to the tables as they do? With Chicken it’s very easy. The normal process is first six chicken boxes go to table 1, next six to table 2, and so on. There is no need to sort them. Next comes Ribs…this is where it’s handy to have people who know the process. Each table captain has a sheet in which they mark off the box entrees they have had for each category. The persons on the turn in tables need to review each table captain’s sheet and make sure boxes do not end up on the same table as they have before. Normally for ribs, two or three trays are held back to swap out entrees. With pork it can be four or five trays, and with brisket it might take five or six, or even more trays depending on number of teams in the contest that are held. Think back to that team who is standing waiting to turn in early. Their box could sit for over 10 minutes while this switch around takes place.
A new requirement this year is not to stack the boxes. Getting the boxes to the tables is a lot of times done by carrying them on bread trays. The trays are not made to hold six boxes, so in the past four boxes were placed with two on top of them, forming a sort of pyramid. The boxes now-a-days are getting flimsier and flimsier, so KCBS decided, no more stacking of boxes.
Now a misunderstood concept. We know the need to keep teams from hitting the same judges table twice. But some teams believe they also do not hit a table with the same teams more than once. That is not the case. It is not designed to make it happen but there is not any means to prevent it either. Team 152, 178 and 149 could conceivably end up on the same table several times and even all 4 categories possibly. Depending on when they turn in their entry, and how it gets shuffled to not hit the same table twice, it might, can, and does occur. In KCBS this should not matter as we do not judge for comparative. Can it be made not to occur? The answer is yes. But consider what has to occur. Now each team has to turn in with the other 5 teams they are assigned with for that category. If Team 152 turns in five minutes early and team 141 turns in with one second to spare, 152’s entry is sitting for 9 minutes 59 seconds. The option that has been discussed would be to reduce turn in windows to prevent the long sit time.
Another is comment cards. At the time I am writing this they are not mandatory for every turned in category. Should they be? Some say yes, some say no. I have no aversion to filling one out for every entry even if it is a 9 9 9 just to say “Great job, loved it”. What I can say is that I have tried this, it cannot be done in the time allotted without something suffering. Either less bites of meat or less information on the card. While 30 minutes sounds like a long time, in a judges tent it is not. A table is given their entrees, appearance has to be shown for all six boxes, then passed out to take samples, then eat first sample and score before moving to the next piece after a bite of a cracker and drink of water. Still sounds doable but depending on where you were in order of trays being delivered, you may have less than 30 minutes. If you were the last to get a tray in this category, you may be early in getting a tray in the next category as the sort goes.
Just recently, I was a table captain and they were calling me for my tray pick up and I still had judges judging. So no it is not as easy as it sounds to mandate comment cards without affecting something else or changing turn in time allotments. Instead of 12:00, 12:30, 1:00, and 1:30 turn in times, it may need to be 12:00, 12:40, 1:20, and 2:00. Doable? Sure. And so something else maybe gets affected – awards time. A sort of a ripple in a pond effect if you will.
Once the entree has been removed and placed on the judges placemats, judging begins. Your box is taken to what is called the grazing table. Here the extra meats are removed, the greens dumped into the trash and the boxes stacked. If anyone should ever question if their box was mislabeled, this can now be found by looking at the boxes that are saved until one hour following awards.
By Bill Jones, MABA Board Member and KCBS Master Judge, Table Captain, & Life Member
Last issue we talked about the National BBQ Conference and what a panel of some of the top cooks in America tried to help teams understand. Quite simply – you hurt yourself more by putting less-than-stellar product in your box then it would be to have it in there over concern a judge may be expecting to see a certain cut offered.
In looking back over my time as a KCBS judge, I have seen some very, very, beautiful boxes. And many of them were NOT the same ole same ole muffin tin chicken or brisket with burnt ends. Some went way off the BBQ standard. I do not know if the team just wanted to see what it would score and maybe it be the next Myron Mixon muffin tin chicken idea or maybe they were a new team and this is what they thought would score well.
So keep in mind, I cannot say what my other judges scored the boxes/ideas below. I can only say it does not for me, and the majority of the judges, have to be the same ole boxes.
Chicken – Breast meat slices, flats and/or drummettes – seeing more and more legs these days, saw a whole chicken one time – two legs, two breasts, twp thighs, and two wings. Talk about a heavy and a tight box! All have their own concerns. Breast meat can dry out quickly. Legs can have the skin pulled up in a lollipop look or left on the bone. A recent box was thigh and leg still connected and had grill marks on the skin. Taste and tenderness were BOTH excellent. My favorite box I ever saw was smoked drummies and flats. Drummettes and flats lined up like little soldiers in four rows. They had a great color to them and they just popped in the box. At the same contest, a thigh was turned in with what I could best describe as thick gooey black roofing tar ¼” thick on it. No one looked forward to tasting that entry and it scored very poorly.
Ribs – Over sauced as mentioned in the previous article is an issue for more and more judges. Ribs don’t have to be dry, just not 3/8” thick gloppy sauce. We as judges keep seeing teams on Facebook or The BBQ Brethren commenting on “it’s not a greens contest” or in this case ”it’s not a sauce contest.” But teams fail to follow that same advice and cut back on the sauce to let the meat shine. One of my worst boxes I ever judged was NOT over sauced…just overcooked! Burnt in fact, so bad the bones were popping through the crusty, petrified, burnt meat. That was bad enough but the team looked to have at the last second thrown the bones in the box and ran, and then fell on their way to turn in. The even funnier thing was there were only 5 bones in the box. As bad as those five were we all wondered how bad bone number six was that the team chose not to include it?
Pork – LOVED a box I had once which had three meat selections in it with three different sauces applied. The NC chopped look had a NC vinegar based sauce on it. The money muscle was a Memphis flavor and the pulled meat was Kansas City flavored. We normally, as routine, see the same flavor on all the meat in the box and that’s fine too. I just thought that team went above and beyond and their selections fit the meat itself. I rewarded them for that choice.
Brisket – And this is the one I hear teams comment on more than anything else. “If we don’t put burnt ends in the box the judges are going to score us down.” Yes I am sure there are a few poor judges who may be doing so. I cannot say as I, myself, have never done so. Nor have I ever heard a judge at a table I was judging or table captaining say so. I myself want your best. Unfortunately this is the one category I seem to fill out more comments about one of the two included entrees the team hurt themselves by including. KCBS does not tell us how to score when the slice is a 9 – 9 for taste and tenderness and the burnt end is a 3 – 3. So we are left with averaging or choosing to weigh a bit higher that the excellent outweighed the poor, or visa versa.
Know that sometimes your cook just did not go as planned and sometimes you have to turn in what you have and hope for the best. Just don’t over think it. KISS comes to mind.
Good luck to each of you and I hope this will be of some help.
by Mark Gibbs, MABA Board member and Pitmaster of Checkered Flag 500 BBQ
Que for the Troops #Q4TT2016 is an annual BBQ festival and competition held at Falls Township Park in Levittown, PA each year to support the Philadelphia USO organization. This year’s contest featured 67 teams (a new record high for Q4TT) from all over the region. The weather was ordered by the Chamber of Commerce! It was a beautiful weekend for smoke, music and fun indeed. Matt Markey of Falls Township does a great job of setting up the competitors with the best amenities for each of the BBQ teams. There is always ample power, water and a great breakfast on Saturday morning for all of the teams.
The social scene was alive and well on Friday night. The skies were clear and teams were taking advantage of the opportunity to visit and catch up with friends and fellow competitors. The weekend started off with an Anything Butt Category and a Dessert Category on Friday evening. JURASSIC PORK – PA took home the honors in the Anything Butt with a fried shrimp offering. MABA’s own BBQ Bob Trudnak finished second in the category with this great platter of Surf and Turf Guru Style (pictured below). Those shrimp must have been amazing if this was second place! Our Bark is Better Than Your Bite took home the honors in the dessert category. Congrats to everyone in those two categories! We love BBQ, but we have some chefs in our region that can make your head spin with some gourmet dishes!
Saturday brought another beautiful day to the park and the competitors had the smoke rolling. A passerby remarked that the smell coming from the BBQ rigs was amazing. He was not lying! The awards ceremony was at 4pm and right on time. The Q4TT team does not waste any time when it comes to awards. The teams were crowded in around the stage and the awards began. Top honors in the Chicken Category went to MABA’s own Smokin’ Foolz of New Cumberland, PA. The big Rib trophy went home with Dead On Q of Fairless Hills, PA. First in Pork was Eastern Beast BBQ of Valley Stream, NY (one of three top 5 calls!). The Brisket trophy went home with yours’ truly, Checkered Flag 500 BBQ of Fawn Grove, PA.
The Top 5 Overall were Checkered Flag 500 BBQ, Hawg Nation BBQ of Phoenixville, PA, Eastern Beast BBQ Team, Dante’s Inferno out of Newportville, PA and Smokestack Redemption from Phoenixville, PA. Four of the top five finishers are Mid-Atlantic Barbeque Association members! Way to represent MABA!
Congrats to everyone who had their names called and huge congratulations to the folks at Que for the Troops for another great competition. Rumor has it that they are already making plans for 2017 and beyond!
First Place Winners:
Chicken – Smokin Foolz BBQ
Ribs – Dead on Q
Pork – Eastern Beast BBQ Team
Brisket – Checkered Flag 500 BBQ
Grand Champion – Checkered Flag 500 BBQ
Reserve Grand Champion – Hawg Nation BBQ
By Stephanie West, MABA Vice-President and “The Neck” Pitmaster for Team 270 Smokers
As the 3rd event out of 7 in the Old North State Series, we ventured to Lincolnton, NC for Hog Happenin’ under the impression that the four-legged variety was the star of this small North Carolina town. Indeed, there were hogs by the thousands…they’d taken over every street and byway, capturing the attention and awe of bystanders…but it was the wheeled variety that was being celebrated at this festival! Biker nirvana, I’d say!
And did I mention it was HOT? Lord, have mercy, it was hot and humid!! 97 in the shade, and we were oh so very thankful for that shade! (It was so hot that we skipped our traditional “team meeting” shot and instead passed out popsicles to neighboring teams!)
26 teams competed in Lincolnton, with most hailing from North Carolina. And North Carolina prevailed! MABA’s own Redneck Scientific crushed it, capturing their 3rd GC of the year with a 706.2400 – marking their entry into “The 700 Club”!! Jerry and Roxanne swept 1st in Ribs with a 180, 1st in Brisket, 2nd in Pork, and 3rd in Chicken!! RGC went to Checkered Pig with a 691.9200. Team 270 Smokers took 1st in Chicken (their first 180 in Chicken), and Elite BBQ Smokers did the same in Pork. Overall, it was a pretty large spread in team scores (from 560 to 706), with no “table of angels” or “table of death”.
Cash and trophies were awarded to GC, RGC, and the top 3 in each category, framed certificates were given for 4th thru 6th. Payouts to just the top 3 was a pretty controversial topic, and it’s something that you may want to think about if you’re considering this event on your schedule next year. If you do go, enjoy the small town charm and all the biker bling you can imagine!
First place winners:
Chicken – 270 Smokers (with a perfect 180!)
Ribs – Redneck Scientific (with a perfect 180!)
Pork – Elite BBQ Smokers (with a perfect 180!)
Brisket – Redneck Scientific
Grand Champion – Redneck Scientific
Reserve Grand Champion – Checkered Pig