I Feel Like a Guinea Pig
The waiting is the hardest part.
So the announcement for The Smithfield Guinea Pig just popped up on the KCBS Site this morning. For those that don’t know, it’s the brainchild of Sterling Ball of Big Poppa Smokers fame. My apologies in advance if this is incorrect or if I have left out some key players. This is a back to the basics event. It’s a 4 meat KCBS comp (plus dessert) with a bit of a twist. All the meat is supplied by the event staff and great care is taken to make sure that everyone is cooking identical product. Did I mention that there is a no power rule? It is spec racing for BBQ. Smithfield provides their Extra Tender line of ribs and pork shoulder and last year Snake River Farms (SRF) supplied us with Wagyu brisket! I can’t recall who supplied the chicken but if memory serves it was a commodity thigh.
We were lucky enough to get into the 2016 GPIII event. It was only our second KCBS competition cook ever! Upon our arrival, the BPS team along with the Don King of BBQ, Mr. Arlie Bragg and what appeared to be an army of volunteers helped get us settled into our site. Once all the competition teams had arrived they used a lottery style drawing for meat with numbered ping pong balls (custom GPIII souvenirs) to figure out the distribution of the comp meat and keep it as fair as possible. Our number was called “9” and we picked up our cooler and headed back to the tent to get everything trimmed and injected. There was a lot to do but at least all the teams were all in the same boat. By the time we got the brisket, ribs and pork trimmed it was time for the SRF Wagyu hot dog dinner so we bolted over and got in line.
I asked myself “a Wagyu hot dog?” “Is that a real thing?” that was quickly answered as I devoured the hot dog. It was by far the best hot dog I have had in my life and I only hope they have them again this year. It was much better than I ever could have expected. You really don’t think you’re going to be impressed when you hear the words hot dog dinner. Man was I wrong. On top of the Wagyu hot dog there was an unofficial chili cook off and it seemed like at least ten teams participated. The chili on the SRF dog was off the charts.
After dinner, it was back to the tent to finish up the chicken prep and get back on our timeline. I got a little sleep and then lit the fires in the middle of the night. My Humphrey’s Battle Box chugged right along and held temps despite the challenging conditions. At this point the pork was looking good. Scott on the other hand was dealing with an uncooperative Kamado all night, reliving his temperature control issues and the brisket cook. I am pretty sure he got less than an hour of total sleep. Chicken, ribs and pork went fairly smoothly for our second comp and everything made it to the judges on time. The brisket was giving us a lesson on everything that could possibly go wrong with a cook. Cut to the chase – we pulled it off the Kamado too early. This was a rookie mistake Scott had to learn it the hard way.
At 5:00PM they had the awards ceremony and we held our breath, hoping we might hear our name called. We were fortunate to have our friend Shuji Sakai, former member of Four Q BBQ attend the event as he knew many of the veteran teams and introduced us to many of his friends. One of our new BBQ friends was Sylvie from Lady of Q. It was great to see Sylvie drop the hammer on everybody for the Grand Champion Award. Hickory and Spice took Reserve Grand Champion Award. Additionally, it was great to see the kids involved, the Kids Q idea is vital as these folks are the future of the sport and on top of that they can cook.
As rookies, we were so new to competitive BBQ that we barely recognized any names that were called. Looking back at the results today I would say that was a stacked field. I can’t wait to find out if we make it into the 2017 edition. I want to see how much of a difference a year makes. We are holding our collective breath and waiting for registration to open.