Speaking of believing, I believe Iowa has more friendly people per capita than any other place in the world. Everyone smiles. Everyone is friendly. Everyone is excited about barbecue. It's truly amazing. The hospitality is second to none. Well, except for one Iowa team. See Ryan Newsom, chief pitmaster of Big T'z Q Cru, he's a sneaky one. Ryan took our Old School versus High Tech class in Shannon, Illinois this year. Even though we've now taught over 500 students, I remember him because he's the only guy ever whose name I got wrong on the registration. His name tag said "Ray." Not a bad name, just not his name. He took it in stride that day, or so it seems.Big T'z Q Cru, headed by pitmaster Ryan and his lovely wife Sonya, whipped up on his two instructors at Waterloo, finishing the Reserve Grand Champion of the event. But he wasn't finished there, oh no. At La Porte City, Mr. Newsom graciously presented both Johnny and me a bottle of Crown Royal Reserve in appreciation for the knowledge he gained from the OS vs HT class back in April. Attached was a note saying he'd "see us at the Royal." Get it? See, in this, his first year, Ryan has already won BBQLossal at the World Pork Expo and the Marshalltown, Iowa event in addition to his RGC the day before. At the time, I thought it was a very gracious gesture. I didn't have the heart to tell him that his check cleared. Oh, how naive can one be? But now I know the whole gift deal was a ploy, a way to get Trigg and me to let down our guard and cook a little looser in La Porte. You hear tell all the time how teams will plan things to get other teams or their members off their game. Heck, I saw it in person a few years back with I traveled with the Smokin' Salmons to Stillwater, Oklahoma, right Rick? Anyway, this mastermind disguised as a first year cook had obviously cooked up a scheme to take us out . . . . and it worked perfectly! Big T'z Cru walked away the Grand Champion of the Smokin' In The Park event that day. That picture, courtesy of his lovely bride and teammate, of us three was taken only moments before awards began. That smirk on Ryan's face tells the whole story. His plan was executed flawlessly. That's one Iowan who doesn't treat strangers very nicely. That's all I have to say about that.
Iowa is a great place to compete in a barbecue contest. The weather for the weekend was perfect. The hospitality of the two events was good. The people from the area were friendly and welcoming . . .well, sans one smiling scoundrel, an obvious wolf in sheep's clothing. We finished sixth overall at La Porte City, with a tenth place call in chicken, fifteenth place in ribs, seventh place call in pork and a third place call in brisket. We cooked better the second day despite our scores and finish. The back to back events made it a very long weekend and the drive home on Sunday after awards was a tough one. However, with a little time having passed, I know Sheri and I would do it all again. Both events did a nice job and we can't wait to get back there next year. And in the end, both Johnny and I are very proud of Ryan and his team Big T'z Q Cru for their accomplishments this year. Congrats to them!