Monday, July 6, 2009

The Bel Air Quandary

Between a rock and a hard place

Regular readers of this blog and friends of ours will know that the Bel Air BBQ Bash is our home contest. Located in the town of Bel Air, it is only about ten minutes from my home. This year will mark 5 years for me at this event counting the 2 years I cooked the Tailgater Challenge on Friday night. Each year I have cooked the event, I have asked a few folks to drop by and visit. The team whips up some extra grub for our guests and it usually turns into a great evening. Needless to say, the guest list has grown over the years due to my extra large claptrap. After the 2007 contest, which included a large crowd of folks on Friday evening, the team threatened mutiny at first, but later softened on their position and let me alone for 2008. Not really voicing a yea or nea.

That was until last year. By our calculations, we had about 150 visitors to our 20x20 site on Friday night, and that was just the people I could remember. The evening went off very well due to the team chipping in and we had plenty of food. But to say that it was a bit distracting, especially when the real reason we are there at all is to cook a BBQ contest, is a bit of an understatement. To say I have heard plenty of mutinous talk since that fine evening last August, would also be an understatement. It all came to a head last month while we were in Green Lane Pa, it was there that I was read the riot act and told if I was planning on a repeat performance, I would be flying solo. This time I think they mean business, I could see it in their eyes.

Since that night, I have spent many hours pondering the situation. The worse part is, I think I have to agree with the team, as much as it pains me to do so. It has become distracting, with all of the prep and site work involved in competing in a contest, added together catering a party for 150 people, and you’ve got a heck of a lot of work to do. Last year, we still had a full site after 10:00 pm as we were working to get our big meats into the cooker. Very distracting. It is almost a stretch when you try and call cooking in a BBQ contest ‘fun’, but add in a Friday night catering gig on the same weekend and you’ve got what I call a lot of work to do. Sort of takes what little fun is there and puts it into kibosh mode.

As you can see, I have quite a quandary on my hands. The question is not should I still have the Friday night party complete with beer and a buffet line, I have pretty much decided on nixing the food and drink for Friday. The question is, what I tell all of the friends and family that have come to enjoy the evening of socializing in the streets of Bel Air each year at the BBQ Bash. Many of whom, have been stopping by since my days in the Tailgater.

My teammates seem to have come up with a very good solution. Since the contest is so close, we all have a fairly short drive, why not tell folks to stop in on Saturday, after turn-ins and sample some of the competition food. We always have plenty of food; the festival itself runs till Saturday night, sounds like a good idea to me. I realize this would be a first for the WATG? team. Usually, we are all buttoned up before the awards and bug out just as soon as they are over. But I think the idea is a win win. The visitors will get some good grub and we can concentrate on cooking the contest.

Those that know me know I like to have a good time. The past Friday nights at the Bash have been a blast, the team and I will all admit. If you look at the time and money that is committed to cooking a contest, suddenly, the thought of a Friday night party starts to loose its luster, especially to the guys on the team. So, I am thinking of sending out an email explaining the change in what has become a summer tradition and see what happens. I think the team and I will plan on slipping out after the cooks meeting and eating dinner at one of the watering holes in the town of Bel Air. That way, we will avoid having folks dropping in while we are trying to eat.

Saturday afternoon, after turn-ins and awards, we will all be dining on some mighty-fine BBQ products, sitting back and relaxing, just like it was Friday night, only without the pressure. Wait a minute, on Saturday afternoon I have trouble sneaking up on a plate of BBQ, oh well, that much more for the guests, maybe I will just send out for a pizza.