Sunday, January 4, 2009

Felda, Florida

I must say, this is my second year heading down to the swamp for New Years and it is a awesome way to bring in the New Year! Buddy Taylor and Jenna Borkert at Gator Hammock really put on a cooks friendly event! We are fortunate that we have friends in Bonita Springs area and go down and spend some time with them, then head over to the contest.

We pulled in on New Year's Eve around noon. We drive over 1300 miles and who are we next to? Another Illinois team, Beth and Mike Wozniak of Quau. The other teams must of been scratching their heads. The contest had 27 teams there besides us. Jack's Old South, Swamp Boys BBQ, Bill and the Dixie Chick and Florida Skin and Bones were some of the other teams there.

The weather was perfect this year. It was in the 80's the whole week we were down in Florida. Couldn't ask for much better. Sure was better than last year, when we had some night time lows in the low 40's. Which is really cold for Florida weather. I know it sure puts a chill through to your bones!

The contest was different for me. It was only about 6 weeks for me since my last cook, but I just felt like I hadn't cooked for years! Funny how some time off and you can forget what you do for your turn-ins! Fortunately, every year after the season ends, I write down all of my recipes, just because I know I will forget the finer points! It all started coming back to me during crunch time though.

As for the contest. We had a good showing when we were called for 2nd place chicken. Sure is nice starting a contest with a call in chicken. Amazing that I have been fighting this category for so long. Now it just seems so easy. It was also nice beating the KCBS chicken cook of the year too! As Mr. Quau was 3rd place.

We had another strong call with our ribs. Another 2nd place call! Which surprised me, as I thought they were a bit dry, but the texture was right on. The smack talk continued, as Quau beat me by less than a fraction of a point for the rib title! I should of kept quiet for the chicken results!

Pork ended up in 9th place. I felt like it was my best product of the day, the judges didn't. Oh well, we move on and try again next time we cook! I've learned that you can't kick yourself if your product doesn't finish where you think it should. As we sure don't give back our awards if we get a higher call! See my ribs scores...

Brisket I thought was slightly overdone. The judges seemed to like it and we got a fourth place call. I think my girls sprinted up for that award, as they really like to do that. I'm usually just getting out of my chair and they are already gone... They need to learn to wait for their old man! lol

In the overall we managed to get Reserve Grand Champion. It was a great way to start the year! Swamp Boys BBQ took home the coveted gator trophy! This thing was just huge! It had to of been over 9 feet long! I almost feel fortunate that my GC trophy from last year was slightly more manageable to get home! I've got to say that Rub is probably one of the nicer guys out on the circuit. He is a good spokesman for Florida BBQ and some day I told him I would be back to cook in a FBA event. Maybe when he isn't so hot!!!

We don't have another contest scheduled until Little Rock in March. My sister Liz Anne and I will be heading to Shannon, Illinois in February, so she can become a certified BBQ judge. It should give her a better idea of what goes on in the judging room. I'll be washing the dishes in the back to help out Mike and Theresa Lake.

Until our next adventure!

Cancer Sucks!



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