BBQ At Its Finest
By David Sharp
For many of us the word “barbecue” conjures images of roaring flames, grilling meats, picnic tables, gatherings of family and friends, green grass and sunny days. In the world of competitive BBQ, the term BBQ alludes to a well-seasoned rack of ribs, chicken, pork shoulder or brisket smoked for numerous hours. These smoked meats are then evaluated by a panel of trained judges with each entry given a score for appearance, taste and tenderness.
It doesn’t matter if you spell it barbecue, barbeque, BBQ, Bar-B-Q or Barbie; any way you spell it, the act of conquering delectable smoked meats has become something that is no longer described, but experienced. BBQ eaters and cookers worldwide have a new banner to cheer for, that of Competitive BBQ. With the Boulder City Best Dam BBQ as inspiration, one of Boulder City residents will never be the same again.
We are referring to Desert Sun Realtor Dan Fox. Dan has always had a soft spot in his heart both to cook and to eat good BBQ, ok, not good BBQ, great BBQ. Last year, Dan decided to throw his hat in the ring and entered the Boulder City Best Dam BBQ. That’s all it took, he was hooked.
So, how does a person transition from a backyard BBQ enthusiast into a BBQ competitor on the circuit with a team known as BBQ Junkie? One thing is for certain, you have to be passionate about your craft and Dan is just that. Dan knew he could smoke a pretty mean rack of ribs. He also knew that to compete, he had to take his skill to a new level. Mixing and blending spices to stand out in the heavy competitive realm is key to success is the world of competitive BBQ. Dan has mastered a BBQ sauce that is so good, it will make your head spin. Dan also pays close attention to the quality of the meats he uses. For a competition, Dan has been known to fly in meat from other parts of the country when he can’t find the quality he wants locally. He also selects the perfect wood for the desired smoky flavor. Honing his skills in introducing just the right amount of smoke so as not to overwhelm the meat and, in no time, he had a winning combination.
In fact so did everyone in the neighborhood where Dan lives. Every couple of days the smell of smoking ribs and brisket taunted the neighbors. Dan began sharing his “test meats” with friends, neighbors and co-workers, and it wasn’t long before Dan was asked to BBQ for private events.
With encouragement from some very satisfied recipients of Dan’s practice BBQ efforts, Dan entered a competition in Mesquite, Nevada, and then Lake Havasu, Arizona. Initially, Dan competed with ribs only and quickly took the leap to competing in all four categories: chicken, ribs, pork shoulder, and the toughest one of them all, brisket. At these events, BBQ Junkie competed against some big names on the circuit such as Johnny Trigg, “The God Father of Ribs” and Harry Soo’s of Slap Yo Daddy BBQ, the Arizona BBQ team of the year. Out of 85 teams at the Lake Havasu competition, BBQ Junkie took 5th place in ribs and finished 22nd overall. Although BBQ Junkie is a novice on the competitive BBQ circuit, they are already turning heads.
A key player on the BBQ Junkie team is Dan’s girl-friend Kelly Allen. Kelly prepares the presentation of the food for judging. Kelly makes sure that the meat is presented to BBQ competition standards. It takes a certain knack to take the same entry every other competitor is submitting to the judges, using the same food storage box with the same garnish, and make it stand out. To give you a feeling for how competitive these competitions are; judges are so picky, they look for any imperfection to count an entry down in points. If a Styrofoam container gets even slightly dinged in transportation to the judges table, an entry risks getting marked down or even disqualified. Kelly makes sure this doesn’t happen.
Not only does Kelly help with the preparation and presentation of the meats, she competes in the dessert category. Kelly placed 7th with her caramel apple empanada in the Mesquite competition. Dan and Kelly make quite the team and their passion and enthusiasm for competitive BBQ is contagious. Family and friends now flock to help step up and tear down for competitions is hopes of being rewarded with competition level meats and homemade desserts.
To see firsthand BBQ Junkie in action, you can visit them at upcoming competitions at Orleans Casino, Las Vegas on May 21, 2011 and the Boulder City Best Dam BBQ on May 27.