Monday, October 5, 2009

American Royal Weekend 2009

What A Weekend!

The 30th Annual American Royal is in the books and it will be a memorable one!

We arrived at our spot in front of Kemper Arena on Friday morning and began staging our space. Our teammate Darrin is in charge of this and always does an excellent job. This job was complicated by the extremely windy conditions of the day and that we were hosting a party for all of our friends and family that night. Darrin got us dialed in for the weekend. The party was great and we appreciated everyone that came down to see us.

We also had the pleasure of meeting our neighbors, Myron and Faye Mixon, of Jack's Old South cooking team. Both are terrific people and made for an enjoyable weekend. We noticed Myron was drawing a lot of attention and had a film crew taping his every move that day. I later approached him and asked what all the fanfare was about. He explained to me that TLC was shooting a reality show entitled "Pit Masters" and that he was one of 8 teams they had been following on the competition circuit this season. I thought this was a great idea and who better to follow than Myron and Faye?

On Saturday, we had some down time before starting our prep for the Open contest the following day. We were approached by the director and producer of the reality show asking if we were interested in participating in the program. Myron had put in a good word for us and felt like we would be a good subject for a local angle. Also Corey dressed in his cousin Eddie attire didn't hurt in drawing the production peoples' interest.

The film crew came by around midnight to film us in our prep and cook process, as well as, interview us about our backgrounds, etc. This lasted about 30 minutes and with the brisket and pork on the smokers, we went to bed.

Sunday morning we were up at 5:30am. Bundled up to fight the cold weather and guzzling coffee to wake up. In between cooking duties that morning, we stopped by Myron's space several times and were allowed access to his private prep area to watch him and his wife do their magic. The film crew taped us as we asked him questions about his processes. We also discussed judging, presentations, cook times, meat selection, rubs and sauces just to mention a few. We were able to sample his rubs and sauces as well. Brant took the lead in the Q&A sessions as they were being filmed. He should hopefully get us a lot of face time on the show.

As we approached turn-in time, we were busy scrambling to make sure everything was completed on time. The film crew came by and filmed us as we put our boxes together and took them to the judging turn-in area. Darrin had some fun with the cameras spreading sauce on his face and making it look like he had been eating out of our turn in box while carrying it to the judging area.

We felt our chicken, ribs, pork and brisket all tasted well. It was different trying to put our boxes together knowing we were being taped. I tried my best to put it out of my mind. Our box presentation looked good and we thought we should hopefully have a respectable showing in the standings.

After our last turn-in, the film crew asked that we hang around so they could film some intro shots for their show. They also had reserved some seats for us at the award ceremony and asked that we all attend. Normally I stay for the award ceremonies after each contest we cook. The rest of the guys are usually pretty eager to get home. It was nice that everyone stayed.

We packed our vehicles and headed for the award ceremony at the requested time. The Royal ceremony is always fun because everyone gets a chance to relax and wind down from all of the weekend's work. It's also fun to see our other BBQ friends get calls during the ceremony. Everyone works so hard and puts their heart and soul into what they cook that they deserve some recognition. This ceremony is also a little longer as there are several side categories that are awarded out to first before the main categories are awarded.

Chicken was the first category to be awarded. The emcee began to read the winners names starting with 20th place. He began to call a lot of familiar names off of the winners list. Then he came to number 3 overall and called our team name! I was in shock. We all got up and took our place on the #3 spot on the stage holding our 3rd place ribbon high. The camera crew had been filming us the whole ceremony and captured our special moment. We were on cloud nine. I was glad that my wife and kids were there to share it with me too. We had no other calls but none of us cared.

We finished our post ceremony interview for the show and our thank you interview to Myron for all of his guidance. We headed back to our space and had a celebratory drink!

Our overall finish was 128th out of 486 teams. Ribs finished 59th, Brisket 152nd and Pork 433rd. Pork killed us! Not sure what went wrong because it was cooked the same way we did last year and that entry finished 48th. We could have cracked the top 75 overall thanks to the Pork.
It was a great time. Many thanks to my teammates for making this a special weekend! Without them none of this happens.

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