Thursday, January 13, 2011

Starting the New Year right…

....what are your Que resolutions?

As the smoke dissipates on the year 2010, the question that many of us ask is where did it go? It seems like just yesterday we anxiously awaited the start of the season watching the events move north from the southern locations that dominate the early season. When the season finally kicked off here in the northeast in April it seems I blinked my eyes and it was October.

We cooked 6 contests in 2010 and are planning about that number for the year 2011. As I look ahead and make my plans the thought came to me about New Year resolutions. Each year in January we hear news stories and talking heads from every sort of media outlet pontificating on what resolutions are made and who makes them. I myself would like to see a follow up story somewhere to report how many of those stated resolutions actually made it past January 2nd.

It dawned on me there is no collection of resolutions made by the cooks, pit masters, and personalities in the BBQ world, at least that I was aware of. What a great idea, interview the top 10 or so BBQ folks and get their resolutions for the upcoming season, that would make great reading. Of course, I was one day away from my deadline when I came up with this brilliant idea. The time needed to reach out to the people to be interviewed, wait for their response, collect their thoughts, and then write the article might take a little longer than a day. It appears that this idea will have to wait until next year when I have a bit more time. For now, you will have to suffer through a compilation of my own Que resolutions for 2011. If it would make it any easier reading, you can pretend that I am in fact, a noted BBQ personality, at least for purposes of this particular article.

1)Be more focused- It seems like in the year 2010 I only thought about BBQ for 364 days. There were a few days that I did not check the forums or read an article or story relating to BBQ. I know there was a weekend or two when I cooked only seafood or pasta. I need to get back on track, get more focused, practice with the big 4 and work additionally on my whole hog and other ancillary submissions. I have two certified BBQ judges residing within walking distance of my home base. If I could just convince four more of my neighbors to take the judges class, (I would even pay their way), I could have a full table to submit my offerings to each weekend as a practiced my methods and flavor profiles. Now that sounds like a good idea.

2)Be More Prepared- As part of my routine at a contests or catering gigs I keep lists, notes and records. This year I vow to actually read those lists, notes and records more than one day ahead of my next event. My particular focus here would be the supply list. We keep a detailed list of items that need to be restocked in our trailer before the next event. If I were more prepared, I would actually read over that list a week or so ahead of the next event so that items that have to be ordered, can be handled BEFORE I am short on time and have to pay four times the shipping costs to have the items sent overnight.

3)Work neater- As I cleaned my equipment for the final time before stowing most of it away for the winter I was continually amazed at the places I found BBQ sauce and various other overspray and debris. I won’t even discuss my aprons, shirts, shorts and shoes after an event. Let’s just all agree, I certainly have room for improvement when it comes to ‘working neater’. In 2011, I will look like Mr. Clean, or at the very least, Mr. Not So Filthy.

4)Stay more sober- I am talking about while at a contest, not at home, why in the world would I want to remain more sober at home? This would fall under the ‘more focused’ section as well. While there is nothing wrong with having a cool drink or two in the contest setting, in my opinion there is a fine line between ‘enough’ and ‘too much’. I will admit, there has been the occasional time when I crossed that line, or at the very least, staggered over it. My plan in the upcoming year is to limit my alcohol consumption while at a contest which I believe will assist me with resolution number one. Besides, everyone needs to make at least one resolution that they KNOW they aren’t going to keep, this way, maybe the others will be more successful.

5)Take more pictures- I carry my camera to each and every event. Sometimes when I get home, I have less than a dozen pictures from the entire weekend, and four of them are of my turn-in boxes. I vow to take more and better quality pictures this year. I am even thinking of hiring a photographer to hang with us for the weekend to get some really great and candid shots. I wonder if I can find a cameraman that will work for Que? This entire premise is based on the assumption that everyone one on the team is in compliance with resolution number 4, if they are not, I surely don’t want any incriminating photographic evidence being collected.

6)Have more fun- I am not quite sure that this is a possibility. Not that we don’t like to have fun. But I believe, based on our past contest behavior, that we are having the maximum amount of fun allowable by law at each and every contest we attend. I also believe that there may be a certain amount of fun participated in by our squad that could very well be prohibited by law in some States in the Union. If we are not having funis maxiumis, I think we would hang it up. However, that being said, there is always room for improvement. We will work hard to maximize the reading on the fun-O-meter, even if it involves completely scraping item number four before the season opens.

So there you have it folks, six BBQ resolutions for the upcoming year 2011, five of which I might even try to comply with, I’ll keep you posted in next years column how successful I was, or wasn’t. I’ll toss number four in with my yearly personal New Years resolution that I am going to drop 10 pounds. That one usually flies out the window on New Years Day!

Anyway you look at it resolutions are a good thing, they cause you to pause, reflect, prioritize, and have a few laughs. If there is one thing that we all could use these days it would be a good laugh or two or three. In addition, I would like to wish everyone a fun-filled, safe and successful 2011 BBQ season. Hope to see you out on the trail.

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