Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Part 4 - The making of the team

Steve e-mailed me when he returned from Vegas to get my address, he was sending the plaque to me for 5th place sausage, which I thought was great. I gotta tell you, I really got some mileage from that plaque. I displayed it obnoxiously prominent in the kitchen and was sure to wave it in front of anyone’s nose that stood still for any more than 30 seconds in the area. As Christmas approached, Jo insisted that I transfer it to my office, which I did, where it remains today. I am sure she was glad to have it gone from the kitchen, although I would still give anyone that would listen a full blow-by-blow account of the contest anytime I was asked, which would include a trip to my office to see “the hardware”.

During the 2006 holiday season as my friends and family became glassy eyed while listening to my sausage cooking escapades for the twentieth time, there were a few that not only didn’t glass over, but that actually appeared interested. At times, bringing the subject up and asking if they could go down and “take a look” at the plaque. Especially as I thought out loud that I would like to start my own team, there actually seemed to be some interest. I was pleasantly surprised that there were others that would be interested, I might be able to pull this off I thought.

My friend Bobby, the superintendent of the recently completed kitchen project, was very interested. He asked many questions and was excited at the idea. Bobby is always very busy with his regular job, his family and other side jobs that he is working on, but said that he would like to get involved. Just recently, Bobby had ventured into the kitchen and began to try his hand at cooking various dishes, other than cooking on the grill. He really enjoyed when he came to our house, jumping in and getting involved with the food preparation, he was enjoying his move from the grill to the kitchen and was looking to learn more.

Erich, my friend and neighbor had listened to all of my stories and tales many times over, always laughing as if he had never heard them before. He also had been by to visit us for the two years that we cooked at the tailgater challenge. We walked around together, looking at the cookers and talking to the cooks. One thing is for sure, Erich shared my passion for drinking beer and eating BBQ. Anytime I made anything on the grill or the smoker, Erich would always volunteer to test out the grub. A decent grill cook, Erich was also eager to learn about the low and slow method of cooking BBQ.

Mike and I had cooked together at both of the tailgaters at Bel Air and he is very skilled around the stove and the grill. An accomplished home chef, he was a natural to be a team member. A skilled outdoorsman, he is very helpful with his knife skills and knowledge of meat trimming and preparation. Mike and I spent a lot of time together discussing various cooking techniques. I bounced many thoughts and ideas about the teams’ formation off Mike, which always resulted in spirited discussion. Some would say that any time Mike and I are in a discussion that it is spirited, but I would say they would be exaggerating, well, maybe not, that is what makes it fun.

Al and I have been friends for around 30 years. It hardly seems that long, when I think back of all the great dinners that Jo and I have enjoyed with him and his wife Arlene, better known as “Pete”. Other than my Mother, I would say that Al and Pete had the most influence on me as far as my interest in cooking. Many summer afternoons were spent around the grill at their home as we cooked everything from london broil to chicken wings to Canada goose. Over the years, Al has also developed into a fine home chef, while a traditional southern Sunday dinner cooked by Pete surely cannot be beat. When asked, Al did not hesitate, he wanted in and the team was complete, after all, it would be a good reason to get together a couple of times through out the summer and drink a few beers.

No comments: