Sunday, September 7, 2008
Three out of four ain't bad!
Yeah, yeah, that's a little cocky for this blog entry title. If you really know me, you know I'm not that way. I just had a long drive home from South Dakota and thought that would be a funny post title.
Vermillion, South Dakota was very good to Pellet Envy. Sheri was under the weather, so I cooked this event solo. It was a first year event up there. The contest organizer, Jody Harnois, really worked the phones and events to recruit teams to come cook. We saw him in Mason City Iowa in July handing out applications and decided that anyone who worked that hard to promote his event, must be working hard to make the event great.
The contest was set in downtown Vermillion. Coming into town, I passed the University of South Dakota (USD). I also went through some construction where they had complete removed the paved road and I dragged the trailer down a mud path. Did I mention that it rained most of the five hour drive up to South Dakota. It was raining in Vermillion when I arrived as well. Little did I know that my truck and trailer were so darn dirty. Well, not until I backed it into my spot and leveled it up. THEN I noticed how bad everything looked. But it was too late at that point. Plus, at the time, the only way I knew to get out was to cross that mud bog again and that wasn't going to help matters. See, if you don't already know, I'm pretty anal. I can tell you now that I was preoccupied with the exterior condition of my trailer all weekend. To make matters worse, we cooked ribs and bacon wrapped jalapenos on site at the American Royal the day before as part of a media presentation. I had cleaned up the pits after the double header weekend and honestly, they didn't look dirty after that cook. What I forgot, was the grease in the pans down below. The trip up to Vermillion was so wet, that the water coming off my trailer tires sprays up onto the pits, runs down the face of them and ends up draining through the small hole designed to catch grease in the tray on the front of the pits from when you're working in them with the shelves pulled out. Well, once the pans filled up with water on the trip, they overflowed onto the trailer deck. So, when I arrived and got set up, not only did I have a dirty trailer, I had these small white "balls" of grease all over the deck of my trailer. I won't describe what they looked like. I'll just leave that to your imagination. Actually, I'll give you a hint . . . .they looked like insects that turn into flies. OH!
So, there I was in Vermillion, dirty truck and dirty trailer. It gave me a raging headache. But, you'd have never known it by looking at me. Oh no, I'm as cool as a cucumber on the outside. No way was I going to tip my hand. In fact, you'd have thought I put serious thought into looking like Pig Pen from Charlie Brown and pulled it off flawlessly. To make matters worse, the outside temperature was in the low 50's, so the grease wasn't going to melt. What did I do? I grabbed a couple of our 3 gallon buckets and went looking for water. It's all I had? I'd tried wiping the grease up with paper towels, but that just smeared the white stuff into the textured Line-X deck. Eight full buckets of water and completely soaked shoes and socks later, most of the grease was gone. The back of the trailer wasn't perfect, but at least I could live with it now. As for the the whole trailer exterior, if you stepped back about eight feet, you really couldn't see how dirty it was. That's the beauty of the wrap. I decided I would just have to obsess about it and hope nobody else noticed. Turns out that all of these issues had me so preoccupied, it made me sort of go on auto pilot for the the actual cook.
The contest was pretty uneventful. There was a band that played until 1:00AM on Saturday. I didn't notice. It was a block away and while I remember hearing the base thumping a little, it didn't keep me from sleeping. Despite the cold, rainy weather, there was a great turn-out for the car show a block away on Saturday. The event also hosted a People's Choice contest. I declined to participate because most of these are conducted during turn-in times, making it impossible to be part of it. Little did I know, this one began at 2:00PM, just after brisket went in. They had a decent turn out, especially considering the weather and 15 teams competed. Congrats to my neighbors, Charcoal Loungers, the defending contest champions on their People's Choice victory.
As for the results of the 27 team event, well here they are:
Chicken - 3rd
Ribs - 1st
Pork - 1st
Brisket - 1st
All I can say is "wow!" Scott Johnson of Cancersuckschicago.com, also received four calls in the top ten (actually, his worst call was 7th place) and finished as the Reserve Grand Champion. Honestly, his four calls, including two seconds, would win an event 24 out of 25 times. That's Scottie pictured below. Walking my chicken entry in that day, I ran into Scottie at the judging area. We talked about going head to head on the same table. He told me to put my box on the tray with his because that day his "chicken was on" and he was going to school me in the chicken category. As it turns out, Scottie spanked me in chicken that day beating out my third place finish with a second. Teams better watch out for Scottie in the chicken category, he's got it dialed in! Wonder if that Slabs Stephy Style Chicken rub he ordered after reading my blog has anything to do with it? I bet it does. Obviously Scottie was pleased with himself that day as he was sitting in a chair just outside his obviously manual leveling land yacht, celebrating before awards, taking long drags from his cigar and blowing dense, perfect smoke rings into the air repeatedly, and let me tell you he's proud of his smoke rings, he even showed me. I actually mistook him for some northern aristocrat as I walked by. Scottie followed me all day, even tailing me out of South Dakota. I think he somehow thought he could hide from the South Dakota state motor vehicle enforcement officers by being in my shadow. Don't forget to pay that $27 log book violation ticket Scottie. Otherwise, they might issue a bench warrant. Even though that would probably make you an A team legend, it would make you a South Dakota outlaw!
A note about the trophy for Grand Champion in the picture above. This thing was custom made and so cool. When Jody and the maker presented it to me, I remember it being as light as a feather. However, carrying it back to my cook site, I realized this thing must weight 30 pounds or more. It's solid metal and really awesome. I told everyone that these unique trophies are the ones we love. It is already proudly displayed in the den with our special trophies.
There were a slew of contests this weekend. Congrats to all the winners, especially Candy Weaver of BBQr's Delight who cooked a contest for the first time on her Jamie Geer pit and won. Very, very cool! I'm headed solo to Dickinson, North Dakota this weekend. Mort Kreig was persistent these past months and honestly, it seemed like a great idea. Now, with 900 miles between me and this event, plus it's KCBS board meeting week, I'm questioning my decision. Plus, it looks like the nights are a little chilly up there this time of year. See you all out there somewhere.