By Luke Darnell, MABA President and Pitmaster of Old Virginia Smoke
The Ironman…where you get to get down and dirty with limited amounts of meat and no electronics. The Ironman…where you can get sun and warmth the first day…but get froze out the second day. The Ironman…where steak contests were born in the Mid-Atlantic.
Traditionally on of the more fun events in the MABA calendar, this year’s Ironman didn’t disappoint. Eric Forrester and his team at Mason Dixon BBQ Supply as per usual did a great job in preparation for the event. On Friday, there was the first ever SCA Steak Cookoff at the Ironman, one of the first steak cookoffs in the Mid-Atlantic. This was great fun for all that participated. Brett from SCA was a joy to be around, and the awards were fun. Congrats to late entrant Mitch on his fantastic steak victory.
The weather was great for steak, but plummeted over night for BBQ. The competition was hotly contested. The Ironman, for those of you that don’t know, is a contest that features teams only cooking 7 pieces of chicken, 1 rack of ribs, 1 pork butt, and 1 brisket. 59 of the 60 teams cooked this format, and Rockin Robyn’s won the day with a 700+ score and for Grand Champion! Congrats!
Look for more information about next year’s Ironman, and look for more SCA cookoffs in the near future in MABA-land.
Comments Off on Interstate BBQ Festival Hagerstown, Maryland April 20-21, 2018
By Mark Gibbs, Pitmaster of Checkered Flag 500 BBQ
The 3rd year of what has become one of the best competitions on the Mid-Atlantic BBQ circuit is in the books. The Interstate BBQ Festival at the Washington County Agricultural Center in Hagerstown, Maryland stacked up 67 tough teams to compete in the last throws of winter weather. The facilities are top notch for the cook teams. Rob Immer and his staff know how to throw a BBQ party for sure.
The weekend started off on Friday with a couple of ancillary competitions and a Kids Que. In the burger category, Dustin Reed and his sous chef Clint from The Inked Pig BBQ brought home top honors. In the dessert category a last-minute decision to enter by 50 Shades of Pork paid off with a 1st Place win. In the Kids Que, tacos were the dish of choice and Brother-Uncle Barbeque’s youngest member put together a mouthwatering dish that brought home a nice GC!
Todd and Donna Spickler of Bone to Bark BBQ hosted a pot luck chicken dinner for all of the teams on Friday night. It was great to see our MidAtlantic friends back on the BBQ circuit after some back problems kept Todd from the tour for much of 2017. Welcome back B2B!
The results of the Pro BBQ competition started off with the triumphant return of Bone to Bark BBQ and a win in the chicken category. Ribs saw a familiar face at the top of the list with Richmond, VA’s Wolf’s Revenge and Chiles Cridlin taking home 1st place. 3 Eyz BBQ out of Owings Mills, MD took home the big trophy in Pork and Piggin’ Whiskey BBQ Team racked up the win in Brisket.
The top 10 in each category was separated by 6 points or less except chicken. Everyone was guessing who was going to take home the big prize, but it was a tough one to figure out for sure. Smokestack Redemption hailing from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania got the big call for Grand Champion. They had a great cook and put together a 14th place chicken, 5th in Ribs, 12th in Pork and 7th in Brisket for the win. Shortsville Smokers with Rikk Foringer put together a great effort to take home the RGC as well. This year Interstate hosted the MABA Maryland State Cup for the first time. Dan Hixon and 3 Eyz BBQ brought home the top Maryland honors with a 4th Place finish overall.
If you have not done this contest as a cook, judge or BBQ fan, you need to add it to your list of contests in 2019. This one is quickly becoming one of the top early contests in the nation!
Comments Off on 2018 Gunter Wilhelm MABA Cup Schedule
Announcing the 2018 Gunter Wilhelm MABA Cup schedule!
The highest finisher from the native state where these contests take place will be eligible for prizes from the Mid-Atlantic Barbecue Association including a $250 check, attractive trophy, and an engraved knife set from the official cutlery and cookware provider for the MABA, Gunter Wilhelm.
Below are the contests that will serve as the 2018 MABA Cups.
Boo-B-Que Rehobeth Beach, De
Interstate BBQ Festival Hagerstown, MD
Que by the Sea Seaside Heights, NJ
I Love BBQ and Music Festival Lake Placid, NY
Tilley Harley-Davidson Biker Blues BBQ Rally and BBQ Classic Salisbury, NC
Comments Off on The Great Brunswick BBQ Throwdown Brunswick, MD
By Mark Kenney, Pitmaster of Sauce This! BBQ
The 2nd Annual “The Great Brunswick BBQ Throwdown” kicked off the MABA contest season for 2018 on March 2nd and 3rd! A nor’easter decided to greet it on Friday to make load in a bit of a challenge from time to time. Winds gusted well above 60 mph at some points but BBQ Competitors are a hard crowd to scare off. Thankfully the winds died down good bit over Friday night and the weather remained warmer than last year.
The Steadman-KeenanAmericanLegionPost96 hosted the cooks meeting, a breakfast, some dinner activities as well as opened its doors so the judges would have a warm and comfortable place to do what they do!
The contest is located in downtown Brunswick next to the local train station. The Brunswick Heritage Museum was recently renovated and makes for an interesting side jaunt to see railway history as well as a large interactive model train layout.
The awards were hosted in one of the towns local parks and featured custom made trophies from one of the local supporters of the contest. Out of the 29 teams: Uncle Pig’s Barberque Pit scored a first place chicken, Old Virginia Smoke a 1st place Ribs, Poke N Smoke 1st place Pork and Smoke-aholics finished off the individual meats with a 1st place brisket. The final tally ended with Uncle Pig’s Barbecue Pit taking the RGC and Old Virginia Smoke taking the Grand Championship the second year in the row at this contest with a dominant score! This also earned them the first MABA region Jack draw of the year!
A special thanks to all those involved in pulling off a contest with less than perfect weather. It’s part of what the BBQ cooks expect but we appreciate the hard work and dedication of all those involved in powering through during it. All in all, it was a great kick off to the 2018 MABA season and we can’t wait for next years Brunswick Throwdown!
Comments Off on MABA Annual Meeting a Huge Success!
February 10th brought the annual meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Barbecue Association. Our venue was Addy’s in Manassas, Virginia and the support from the membership was strong, selling out the event. MABA President Luke Darnell had a full slate on the agenda and got started promptly at noon. After opening remarks, it was right into Tier I and the new Tier II awards. Congratulations to all who heard their name called and received awards and money! Here’s how the top ten. in each category ended up:
10th place – Checkered Flag 500
9th place – 3N1 Q
8th place – Shortsville Smokers
7th place – Redneck Scientific
6th place – Wolfs Revenge
5th place – Sauce This! BBQ
4th place – 420Q
3rd place – 3Eyz BBQ
2nd place – Rockin Robyn’s
1st place, 2017 Bill Allen Memorial Chicken Team of the Year- Old Virginia Smoke
10th place – Sauce This! BBQ
9th place – Drillin and Grillin
8th place – Checkered Flag 500
7th place – 3N1 Q
6th place – Rockin Robyn’s
5th place – Lo -n -Slow
4th place – Muttley Crew
3rd place – Wolf’s Revenge
2nd place – Aporkalypse Now
1st place – 3 Eyz BBQ
10th place – Checkered Flag 500
9th place – Old Virginia Smoke
8th place – 420Q
7th place – The Smokehouse Mafia
6th place – Lo – n – Slo BBQ
5th place – Redneck Scientific
4th place – Rockin Robyn’s
3rd place… – Wolf’s Revenge
2nd place – Shortsville Smokers
1st place – Aporkalypse Now
10th place – Aporkalypse Now
9th place – Rockin Robyn’s
8th place – 3N1 Q
7th place – Sauce This! BBQ
6th place – Lo -N- Slo
5th place – Old Virginia Smoke
4th place – Rhode Hog
3rd place – 420Q
2nd place – Wolf’s Revenge
1st place – Checkered Flag 500 BBQ
10th place – Drilling and Grilling
9th place – Muttley Crew
8th place – Redneck Scientific
7th place – Shortsville Smokers
6th place – Lo -n -Slo
5th place – Aporkalypse Now
4th place – Checkered Flag 500
3rd place – Rockin Robyns
2nd place – Old Virginia Smoke
1st place – Wolf’s Revenge
10th place – Butt Up or Shut Up
9th place – Smokin’ Aint Easy
8th place – Smokin’ Foolz
7th place – Smokopolis
6th place – Smoke N BArrels BBQ
5th place – The BBQ Guru
4th place – Red Valley BBQ
3rd Place – Crimson Q
2nd place – Black Hart BBQ
1st place – 2 Rhodies
10th place – 2 Rhodies
9th place – Little Luke’s BBQ
8th place – The BBQ Guru
7th place – Holdin’ My BBQ
6th place – Lil Will’s Southern Que
5th place – The Bearded One BBQ
4th place – Black Hart BBQ
3rd place – Butt Up or Shut Up
2nd place – Dante’s Inferno
1st place – Smokey Dog
10th place – Ribs Within
9th place – Fireside Alchemy
8th place – Funny Bones BBQ
7th place – All Fired Up BBQ
6th place – Old Town Smokers
5th place – Hoos Smokin’
4th place – Black Hart BBQ
3rd place – Smokin Hoggz BBQ
2nd place – Christmas City BBQ
1st place – Dr. Pearl’s Medicinal Smoke BBQ Team
10th place – Little Luke’s BBQ
9th place – Crimson Q
8th place – BBQ Guru
7th place – Game On BBQ
6th place – 2 Rhodies BBQ
5th place – Christmas City BBQ
4th place – Shady Crew
3rd place – Dr. Pearl’s Medicinal Smoke BBQ Team
2nd place – Smokin HOggz BBQ
1st place – Dante’s Inferno
10th place – Big D’s BBQ
9th place – Slower Lower BBQ
8th place – Nice Racks
7th place – Butt Up or Shut Up
6th place – Funny Bones BBQ
5th place – Christmas City BBQ
4th place – The BBQ Guru
3rd place – Black Hart BBQ
2nd place – Dante’s Inferno
1st place – Dr. Pearls Medicinal Smoke BBQ Team
MABA Rookie Team of the Year for 2017 – Love N Smoke
After the awards, a special President’s award was presented to Sauce This BBQ. Then it was onto the raffle for the three smokers and Grizzy Coolers. Special thanks to BBQ Guru for the Monolith Ceramic Grill, Deep South Smokers for the Mailbox Smoker, and Traeger for the Pro Series 34. Also, thanks to Eric Forrester of Mason Dixon BBQ Services for donating two Grizzly coolers. Here are the winners of these items:
Monolith Ceramic Grill – Tex Loudenslager
Deep South Mailbox Smoker – Todd Johnston
Traeger Pro Series 34 - Jason Bradfield
Grizzly Cooler – Rolfe Garrett
Grizzly Cooler – Chris Safley
Finally, perhaps the best part of the meeting, the raffle for nearly 40 contests and dozens of barbecue related prizes! All in all, the MABA Annual Banquet was a tremendous success. Thanks to all of our sponsors and generous companies that donated product for the raffles pictured below. Congratulations to everyone who won awards and raffle prizes, we can’t wait to see everyone in 2018 on the competition trail.
Comments Off on MABA Well Represented at the KCBS Banquet
by Luke Darnell, MABA President and Pitmaster for Old Virginia Smoke
2017 was another fantastic year for MABA teams at the upper levels of the KCBS rankings. This region continues to thrive year in and year out, and has become a force to be reckoned with in the BBQ world. Congrats to all that heard their name called at the KCBS Banquet in January, and good luck to everyone in the upcoming year!
Wondering what others do during the BBQ “off season”, aside from taking classes and practicing their craft with family and friends? Team 270 SMOKERS and team MEAT COMA offer an inside glimpse on what happens at their respective team HQs during the off-season.
Team 270 SMOKERS
By Stephanie West
My first reaction to this topic was to chuckle, “Off-season? What’s that?!” In our early years competing, our 1st event was Memorial Day weekend and the last was mid-October. Now our season starts the 1st weekend of February and it’ll end the 3rd week in December. We’ll travel 25,000 miles in a F350 Dually pulling a 5th wheel (39′ Raptor with dedicated competition kitchen) — typically without a real vacation during the season.
So during the short “off-season”, we have 2 primary goals:
1. Decompress and rejuvenate — mentally and physically. After the last comp of the year, we steal away for a week (2 if we can), preferably in a warmer climate, to hike in the mountains or camp on the beach. After a few days of “a whole lotta nothin'”, and 10 days or so of hiking/walking, we’re in the right frame of mind to re-engage with the world and think about the next season!
Part B to this goal is longer-term, intended to counter the occupational hazards of being BBQ road-warriors (yes, battling “the BBQ physique”). The sugar-laden rubs and sauces and other tasty amenities of a BBQ life – coupled with endless stretches of windshield time – will take it’s toll on most any waistline, let alone knees, hips, backs, etc. Refined sugar and processed foods cause inflammation, increasing the risk for diabetes, heart disease, and brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s. That’s serious stuff. So this is our window to “recalibrate” our habits — dial back our sugar intake (ideally, to less than 20 grams a day) and focus on creating interesting nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods, moderate portion-sizes, and more exercise for non-comp days. Far from absolute, we just try to be mindful and strike a better balance — “everything in moderation, even moderation!” We have much more stamina, and alot less pain, for the competition season and beyond.
2. Minimize chaos. When Terry takes “a day off”, it is inevitably spent in the toolshop building “stuff to hold our stuff”, gadgets to streamline our cook process, or ways to ease loading up for a trip…in short, to reduce chaos so we can just focus on the ‘q. He is a wealth of ideas on creating better ways to execute BBQ and BBQ-related travel. He keeps a mental list as the season is winding down, and we review what items we truly used in the trailer during the year (aiming to remove anything that wasn’t and consolidate the rest). Last year he created our new burnt ends jig, which really improved rendering our brisket. He also converted the bed rails in the cook bay to hold caddies for our knives, rubs, and supplies – at a push of a button, they’re lifted out of the way or brought down to a readily-accessible height. With that, we shed at least 3 bins that always took up valuable space on the counter. He has at least 10 projects on the slate for this winter. If you see us at a comp, never hesitate to swing by to ask Terry “what’s the latest in your trailer?!” – he’s eager to share ideas that may help another team. And if you left home without a tool, it’s a safe bet that Terry has one that you can use. As we say around our place, “MacGuyver was a rookie!” Indeed.
Team Meat Coma-Off Season Prep
By Amy Overbey
When the idea of co-writing an article about pre-season prep came up, my initial response was to sit back and let others volunteer because as an all tent team we don’t have that much to prep. Then I thought, you know what, we are not the only team on the circuit cooking out of tents. So, I unmuted my phone and said, sure I’ll do it! So here goes…
Whether you are a tent, trailer or a super fancy RV team you have prep to do before every season and before and after every comp. For us, while we are unloading our rented trailer and putting everything back in its rightful home in our garage or kitchen pantry we are taking inventory on things we need to replace, replenish or no longer take with us. Because we do that each and every week we compete, our pre-season “physical” prep is basically done with our end of year unload.
However, that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface on the pre-season prep for us and many other teams. The “mental” prep that comes along with starting a new season may be the most difficult and time consuming process. We started talking about next season the second last season ended. Those talks have come and gone throughout the off season and now with the season looming upon us, we are talking about it constantly. We talk about it amongst our team and with other teams who we have built strong relationships with along this journey. We discuss every aspect of BBQ, from fun to serious and from probable to impossible. For the purposes of this article I will share a few of the biggest topics for us, choosing a comp, cooking tweaks and practice.
First, choosing a comp, simple question right? Wrong, so wrong!!! This used to be easier when we first started because there weren’t that many comps within a reasonable travel distance for us and we typically chose based on travel time. Because we are a tent team, we have to pick up our rented trailer on Friday mornings, pack that trailer, make the drive, unload the trailer, start drinking (errrr I mean setting up and prepping) and then get cooking. We now have a vast selection of amazing comps within our geographic area so this process has gotten increasingly more difficult for us. We now choose based on geography, dates that work for child and dog sitters, our historical performance at an event, who else is doing the comp (we are quite the social team) and finally, cost to enter and payouts. This process is a difficult one each year and one that we spend a lot of time talking and, honestly, best guessing about. We would love to compete more, but just can’t swing it with our schedules. The recent addition of Tier 2 for MABA ToY’s has added an extra layer to this whole thing as we want to compete enough to qualify, but not go over the limit to be back up against the big boys and girls of BBQ.
The next thing we focus on is what things about our cook should be tweaked from last season. First we look at what categories were our best (thanks BBQData.com for making this process so much easier), why were they our best, what should we change, why should we change? Again, being a Tier 2 team impacts this aspect greatly. As such, we only have a small batch of sample data to rely on and we all know that is really not very reliable at all. We try to do the best we can and we talk to other teams and judges to see what they are doing and what worked for them. For some teams this may also include taking a class. We have done that in the past and certainly hope to work more into the mix in the future. This season we have decided to make the most changes to Chicken and Brisket. They have been our 2 best historical performers, but we feel they need to be a bit more consistent and we made changes to Pork and Ribs last year so it’s time. Secret alert…I have always de-boned, removed the skin and continued to scrape all the fat from each and every one of my 18-21 chicken thighs. This process takes me more time than I have and/or care to spend on this activity, on a Wednesday night of comp week, so I will no longer be doing all of that. What am I doing…you will have to wait and see!! (Come on, you didn’t think I was going to tell you…did you??) As for Brisket we are playing with the various ways the meat can be divided prior to, during and after the cook to see if that has any effect on the consistency of the cook time and the end product. It has to right? Right! The real question is, what is that effect and which end product will the judges like most. Only time and turn-ins will tell.
Finally, and this kind of goes hand in hand with the tweaks above, is practice. Practicing these changes is obviously important, but perhaps even more important is who you test the practice on. We already know we cook the best BBQ in our neighborhood and we challenge anyone to come and take that title from us, but that doesn’t seem to equate to cooking the best BBQ at each comp we compete in. So, we have friends from other teams come and try our food and give honest feedback and we are planning to have judges come to taste our practices to provide additional real time feedback. We realize each contest and set of judges will produce a different response, but we feel we can gather some real insights from those who are tasting and cooking this stuff week after week. We also know we are our own biggest fans and certainly worst critics, so we are working hard to take each call or non-call with a grain of salt and keep looking forward to the next comp. We can celebrate our victories and rest on our laurels or sulk in our losses and change it all every week, but what fun or point would any of that be?? The answer is, it wouldn’t and if I have learned anything over our 7 year career in BBQ it is this…if you aren’t having fun while doing this, you are doing something wrong. No off season prep needed for that, just sign up, give it your best and enjoy this upcoming BBQ season with family and friends!!!
Comments Off on Addendum to the Sponsorship Article
The Newsletter team got a response back from Bill Ames of Make it Meaty. Bill has been a long-time supporter of MABA and sponsor of teams for some time. We appreciate him taking time out of the busy holiday season to respond. The newsletter staff wanted to make sure we got his take on sponsorships in the world of competition BBQ.
While first and foremost Bill has a product to sell. Anyone that knows Bill Ames knows his passion is just as much about educating cooks on how to properly use his products. BBQ sponsorships and relationships with teams are a means to this end…..and winning with his products never hurts either.
Some takeaways from his response to our request were:
“Use common sense.” Spread the word about the product that is supporting you. MiM is a one man company. So when they take on a team to sponsor it comes straight out of Bill’s pocket. Support the brand and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the product to more effectively use it in your program. As mentioned in the original newsletter column, a common theme among sponsors is the need for good communication with the teams that they support. The sponsor and the team benefit from good results and good communication.
Don’t send “form letters” to potential sponsors asking for support. This is especially true if you do not have a history of using the product. Build a relationship with the product and the product vendor, then go from there. I know that almost every BBQ class out there (including my own and every class I have taken) has a time when we talk about BBQ sponsorships. I encourage relationship building vs. the scatter gun method in my class. Not every product is good for your program simply because they want to sponsor you and the flip side is also true. Just because you may be a successful BBQ team, it does not mean that the product vendors will be knocking down your door to give you free product.
Have some skills. “I am not looking for people who can’t cook. I sell ingredients, not unicorn fairy dust.” Probably the most critical statement in the entire reply from Bill. But it is a very true statement. There is no ingredient that is going to take someone who has no cooking or BBQ skills and turn them into the KCBS Team of the Year. I know that sponsors look at sponsored team’s results for intel for how to improve or add to their product line. Sponsors will also occasionally jump in and offer advice to teams that may be struggling with their product. The sponsored team has to bring some skills to the table.
Sometimes relationships with sponsors come to a close. Bill says, “I think the most important thing I expect from my sponsored teams is enough respect that, before they jump ship to one of my competitors, they have the common courtesy to discuss it with me, first.” It really goes back to response #1. Communication between the sponsor and team should be the first and foremost priority in a sponsor/team relationship.
Bill Ames, thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts with the MABA membership! Best to you and Make it Meaty in 2018!