Monday, August 1, 2011
Holly Smoke BBQ, Easton MD
Those are my guys!
First, a little background for those that don’t know me. My competition BBQ team is named “who are those guys?”. The team consists of my wife, 3 lifelong friends and myself. We began cooking the KCBS series approximately 5 years ago and for the most part, the personnel roster has remained the same during the entire time.
I am the organizer and driving force behind our group. During this period, I have been the been dubbed the BBQ Nazi by my team members. For the life of me I can’t image why. When asked why the moniker, they’ll mumble something about stubbornness, inflexibility, close mindedness, dictator like. I have no idea who they are talking about. I have always run my team with a complete open door policy. Team mates with suggestions for change are always welcomed in my office, that would be the case, if in fact, I even HAD an office.
The truth of the matter is, I don’t have an office and I haven’t been very open to change or even suggestions from the very team I depend on to help me prepare, set up and cook each and every contest I cook. I have said it before, folks that cook contests solo are true ironmen and woman. For me, after a weekend contest, it takes me 3-4 days before my knees stop aching. Cooking solo? I think I would rather stay home, I couldn’t do it. To say I am stubborn and resistant to change would be an understatement, just ask my wife. I do not expect I am much different than any other on the back side of middle aged male in today’s society. You know what they say about old dogs don’t you?
This season I vowed to change, to be more open, to listen more, to even act on and possibly implement properly submitted suggestions from my esteemed teammates. As you can well imagine, this was a large step for me, albeit a difficult one. Notice I said properly submitted, I guess I couldn’t change too much now could I? What I meant was, I would try listening, if it sounded like a well thought out proposal, my response would be, let’s do it. For me, this was huge.
My wife wondered aloud if this same philosophy would be in effect around the house,” come on now”, I said, I was going to be a bit more congenial with the team, I haven’t completely lost my mind. I know just as anyone that has been married for 30 years plus, at home, the wife is never wrong with her comments and suggestions. When she tells me the sky is orange, I say your right and move on, period. How else can you expect to stay married for 30+ years? It’s a good thing my wife never reads my writings, please, if you see her at a contest, mums the word. Let’s keep this between you and I, she really doesn’t need to know anything I have said here, now does she? Besides, anyone that can put up with me for 30 years, well, enough said about the lucky man that am I.
Let me get back on topic, this year I even went as far as asking if team mates wanted to be more involved than in previous seasons. For the most part, I was rejected or ignored. Things have been proceeding along pretty much as usual even after the implementation of the open door policy. I was calling most of the shots, taking all the credit, then looking to assign blame when they did not, just like at work. You can imagine my surprise when the team began making rumblings about cooking a contest in July when I was scheduled to be on vacation.
At first I wrote it off as drunken campfire contest talk. Not that we ever have a campfire at a contest or are ever drunk at a contest. OK, Maybe I am stretching on the last one. Nevertheless, I thought it was all talk in May when I first heard the drum beats. Around the 4th of July, I overheard plans being made, it looked, like it was really going to happen. Then a clandestine meeting was held, I was not on the invitation list, and I believe final plans were made. This was going to happen.
As I write this, the guys are a week away from their debut. I am out of town on vacation and have left the trailer and gear for them to use. Asking several times if there was anything else they needed from me, to my surprise, they didn’t request a thing. As luck would have it, if I wanted to, I could slide by the contest site on my way home. It is right on the way although it would take me a completely different route, a surprising difference of only about 7 miles. Hardly a good enough reason for me not to slide by.
Part of me wants to go, part of me wants to stay away and let them alone, not to interfere. I am not sure what I will do. One thing I know for certain, I want them to succeed, to do well. Not just for me and the who are those guys? name, but for them, the guys. All of them are very good cooks on their own and I want them to succeed in this endeavor. They have always joked they were going to form their own team eventually anyway. Their name, they always said would be “we were those guys”. Next week in Easton Maryland, I wish them success, then I will say, those are my guys!