Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Part 13- The off-season, Winter 2007-08

Competitive cooking, is it a sport?

When I look back over our first year of competition, I am still amazed. I read and reread the results from the contests. I look at my notes, and then I reread this blog, it still causes me to shake my head. The guys on the team came together and worked as a unit. Way to go fellows, thanks for your efforts. We cooked in four contests, in which, we walked nine times to the stage, wow, I still can’t believe it.

A great big thank you goes out to my friend and BBQ mentor Steve Farin. You may have read earlier in this blog, when I chronicled how I met Steve and he shared with me his interest and passion for competitive BBQ cooking. Without his friendship, guidance and instruction, our results for this season would not have been possible. Now, having cooked in contests on my own, and experienced the pressure and stress involved, makes me really appreciate the time and patience that Steve showed during those times that I assisted him. I am sure that I asked more than my share of dumb and untimely questions. For that, I say thank you Steve, thanks for everything.

As a sign of our gratitude for Steve, our team has vowed to always have a bottle of his favorite elixir, agave nectar, on hand in our trailer for when he stops by. If you are at a contest, and see our set up, please stop in for a shot. Introduce yourself and trade some stories, we would love to meet you.

I finally found a competitive sport that I like. I tried my hand at golf, never had much interest. Besides, takes too long to play a round these days, what with all of the slow playing woman on the course. (just kidding girls) My vertical leap is not quite good enough for the NBA, close, not off by much, and I got that age thing working against me. Bull riding is out, what with my tender crotchel area and all. (see part 11) World Series of Poker, cost too much just to buy in and I have trouble seeing the cards with sunglasses on, besides, my head is so large, its hard to find a pair of shades that fit. Nope, BBQ looks like a winner. Good friends, cold beer, beef, chicken, pork, ( all the major food groups covered), and sauce, now there is a sport you can really get into. Any sport that one of the first steps is to rub your meat is OK in my book. Vegetarians need not apply.

I know, I know, there are some that will say, competitive cooking, that’s not a sport. I used to get into these arguments with guys at work all the time. These same guys would say NASCAR, that’s just driving in a circle, no sport there. Then they would go home and watch golf, poker, billiards or competitive hot dog eating on ESPN. Correct me if I am wrong, but if competitive eating is shown on the Nations premier sports channel, then it must be a sport. And if the eating is a sport, why can’t the cooking of those hot dogs, or in this case BBQ be a sport. My dog-eared copy of Merriam-Webster’s says, sport- noun- /’sport/ a source of diversion: recreation, physical activity engaged in for pleasure. Nuff said, I think we have those requirements covered here.

It’s probably a good thing too, that BBQ is my sport. You have heard how “they” say he has the frame of a halfback, or, he has the hands of a quarterback, or, he has a body built for wrestling. I never quite heard anything of this sort when I was coming up. I will spare the gory details of the comments that were, and continue to be, hurled my way. One thing for certain, I have a body built for BBQ, there is not much dispute to this statement. A hot greasy smoker, surrounded by friends and family, some good tunes, a couple of stains on my shirt, cold beer in my hand, all shrouded in a sweet smelling blue smoke, that’s what I am talking about! That’s what I call livin. It really don’t get no better than this.

As we fill our days during the off season with family, working, blogging, test cooks and plans for next season we can’t help but stop every once and a while and look back at the season past. We had a lot of fun and met many new and interesting folks that we now call friends. Most of all we experienced first hand how many good and caring people are involved in this sport. From the competitors, contest organizers, judges and reps, almost everyone displays the same, “what can I do to help you?” attitude. Even though they compete against each other on a regular basis, they are always quick to help one another anytime the need arises. When you are at a contest, it’s like a huge family cookout. The only difference is, there is more than the usual amount of drunken Uncles attending. To me, it doesn’t matter if you win or loose, I am just glad to be there, and proud to be a part of the BBQ community.

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