Monday, October 14, 2013

Will the Real BBQ Cooks Please Stand Up! A 2013 Recap

Let's get this straight - I once rode in a limo and got sick!

Now on to the post:

Our 2013 season is essentially over. What a strange year. We find ourselves stuck in the no man's land of the BBQ battle. I guess that's what you expect when you only are able to cook 5 events. The frustration of trying to determine why things go wrong after they go right really makes it feel like you are doing a giant connect the dot puzzle without any numbers. Sometimes the picture looks great and sometimes it looks like a turd!

Here's a brief overview of the season that was 2013:

Our first cook of the season was at the Rockin' Rib Fest in Springfield, MO. I believe this was our fourth year in a row cooking this contest. It's a pretty well run event that is constantly trying to one up itself every year. I liked the new venue at the fairgrounds as it allowed the event to spread out somewhat. However, I have learned if you arrive after 12pm on Friday to set up, the organizer assumes you are not coming and therefore does not have the tent you paid for set up. After some discussion, we were able to get this rectified but decided they could keep their $100 porta-potty ("Hey, it's for charity.") The weather was chilly with some wind but it didn't seem to bother our cook. We ended up 7th out of 68 teams and had a call in brisket. Not a bad start to the season.

We next ventured to Lansing, KS on the first weekend of May. Who knew it would snow? We had wind, cold, rain, sleet and some snow. Worst weather I have ever cooked in. In fact, the weather kept some teams away as only 33 showed up. The organizers had a carnival, bands and fireworks set up for this but the weather wiped all of it out. Despite the nasty weather, we were able to get everything cooked to where we like it. We ended up 6th overall and thinking we are getting things on track.

As work and family commitments increased during the summer, barbecue had to take a backseat. We were able to cook again at Laurie, MO on the first weekend of August against 50 other teams. We had not cooked this event before and decided the timing was right to get back out there. We had a nice shady spot and all the contestants were spread out in the park where the contest was held. It was nice not being elbow to elbow with each other. We had some rain to contend with early in the morning but it seemed not to effect our cook. I had been practicing a different chicken recipe in months before this contest and rolled it out here. The chicken looked great but overall finished 19th. I was hoping for a home run but ended up with a weak liner to second. We ended up 22nd here which was a little disappointing.

Another long break found us cooking the last Sam's Club qualifier event for Region 2. This event took place the last weekend of September in Overland Park, KS. This was the first Sam's event we had ever cooked and the competitors were tough. We had a little rain to deal with but for the most part the weather was very favorable. The cook was solid and we felt we had put great product in the box. When the dust cleared we ended up 10th overall out of 29 teams and just missed being in the top 6 by a few points. We did get a 4th place call in Brisket and was very pleased with that considering the caliber of the cook teams there. I felt we had some redemption for the previous event in Laurie, MO and some momentum heading into the American Royal the following weekend.

Fresh off of Sam's Club the Royal arrived. This was our 8th year cooking this event. We were only cooking the Open as we did not qualify for the Invitational.   I was jazzed as we had everything prepped and ready to go on Saturday and had no major weather issues to deal with for the cook on Sunday. Somewhere between the cook and getting the product into the box, the wheels fell off the wagon. I suppose we were due for a bad cook. I am still scratching my head as to why? Nothing tasted right and nothing looked good in the box. What a disappointment as we put so much work into it and received so little result out of it. We were sucker punched! Part of me did not even want to go to the award ceremony but after all it is the "Royal." I went and stood in the back of the arena by the doors listening to emcee Mike Thompson crack bad weatherman jokes and call the winning names. I knew we would not be called for anything. I hate being right! I got back to the car and pulled away wondering what the hell happened!

So here we are. The current season is over for us. I have more questions than answers. More frustration than elation. BBQ has gotten the best of me again. Thankfully the 2014 season is on the way and hope can spring anew once more.

Seacrest Out!

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Chauffeured Limousine Tour of Kansas City Barbecue Greats

Although I grew up in Kansas City and attended college at one of the local universities, I moved to Seattle after graduation. I spent the better part of ten years out there. Seattle is a great city, but it's not the kind of place you think of when you say "let's go out for barbecue." As you can imagine, a guy who was raised on some of the best barbecue in the nation made a lot of noise in Seattle about the quality of the smoked ribs and tangy sauce back home in Kansas City. And after a while, my friends in Seattle began to tire of my boasting. It was "put up or shut up" for KC barbecue. Unfortunately, it took me a while to finally introduce my Seattle-area friends to the barbecue I loved so much.
As I said earlier, I only spent ten years in Seattle. I returned to Kansas City a few years back. I had a good job opportunity in KC and my wife was also from the area. It was good to be back home, but I still felt the need to share the Kansas City barbecue experience with my friends back in Seattle. So, I arranged to have them come to town for a little dining and baseball. The Seattle Mariners were in Kansas City for a four-game stint last July. My friends and I are all baseball nuts, so I arranged to have them fly into KC for a handful of days. I bought tickets for the second and fourth games in the series. That gave us plenty of time in-between to see the sights and sample the barbecue around town. But, as I wanted to make the experience memorable for all time, I decided to take it up a notch and treat the old Seattle crew to a barbecue and game night experience they'd never forget. (And if I was lucky, they'd go back to Seattle and tell everybody we knew that I was absolutely right about KC barbecue). 
KC has a number of great barbecue restaurants, but one of my favorites is right in the heart of the Country Club Plaza. When my buddies arrived in KC for the barbecue and baseball event, I made sure that they got to try a variety of smoked barbecue deliciousness – but I held the best for last. On the fourth night that the Mariners were in town, I surprised the guys with a chauffeur-driven limo ride from the house to the Plaza for dinner. We feasted like Kings and then jumped back into the limousine for a ride to Kauffman Stadium. The limo I hired from Overland Chauffeured Services was the highlight of the evening. (Seriously, how cool is it to be driven around town all night in a limo?)
The Royals may have lost that night (1-6), but Overland Chauffeured Services made the evening a huge win for me and Kansas City. Nothing beats leaving a baseball game and having a chauffeur-driven limo waiting outside your gate to whisk you through traffic and back home. I still hear the guys back in Seattle talk about the great experience they had here in town. They're already planning to head back to KC next summer. And, I'll know who to call for transportation!
The author of this article, a writer and blogger in Kansas City, contacted Overland Chauffeured Services in KC to arrange for a chauffeur-driven limousine service to take him and his friends to dinner and a ballgame. Overland Chauffeured Services is a world-class limousine, corporate transportation, airport and group shuttle service in the Kansas City area. You can call (800) 575-4845 today to arrange for your own luxury transportation experience.