I have had the privilege of competing in the inaugural Burleigh BBQ Competition, sanctioned by the Australasian BBQ Alliance. It was the second largest BBQ competition in the Southern Hemisphere and was the largest competition I have ever participated in. It was a fantastic event and I learned so much. With the Bangalow Bluegrass and BBQ Festival coming up, I decided to share with you the 7 lessons I learned at the Burleigh BBQ Competition…
Burleigh Heads – Not a bad place for a BBQ Comp!
1. Make sure you have a PR person on your team. Once the public starts coming in, you’ll need someone to converse with them and answer their questions, which is vital to promoting both your team and the sport of competitive BBQing. This needs to be someone other than the pitmaster. Or have a team of pitmasters. If not, your pitmaster will spend all their time talking to the public instead of cooking some great BBQ.
2. Always bring 2 spare tarps, ropes, and cable ties. These are great for when you need a well ventilated extended ceiling/wall after the health department arrives unexpectedly and tells you they want you to put up three walls, put your three BBQ’s inside and cook away. They also make a great waterproof blanket for if you drink too much and haven’t/can’t put up your marquee in the middle of the night… Thanks again to the folks from Radar Hill Smokers and Adams Good’s for saving us from that fate!
3. Do a practice pack. At least a week before you go, run through your checklist and do a practice pack. This will stop you from spending 6 hours packing on the day you’re supposed to be leaving, and arriving 10 minutes before the social event starts. Especially embarrassing when you only live a half hour drive away.
4. Keep a smart phone handy for Googling. After my wife had to retire from the team when her back went out, my Dad was left with 15 minutes to teach himself how to prepare a comp box on YouTube. I think he did pretty well!
Willie Nelson on a tour bus couldn’t cut up greens as well as this man!
5. Estimate your garnishes and then add 20%. This will stop you having the send your team mates on a supermarket run 15 minutes before hand in. Twice.
6. Bring food for yourselves to eat too. I was so focused on the competition that I didn’t even think to pack any food for the team to eat while we were there. It was a three day competition. Here’s a big shout out to Beers, Boys and BBQ for sharing a feed of chicken wings with us at midnight on Friday night! Thanks fellas!
7. Lanyards melt. Gravity and plastic work against you when you’re leaning over a BBQ. Either put them in your pocket or hang them from a mirror-ball like we did. After we’d melted one. Or two.
Outsmarted by gravity… again…
Who doesn’t need a mirror-ball at a cook-out?
Bonus Lesson 1. Don’t write yourself off on the first night. You can try and justify it as ‘Networking’ all you want, but if you can’t get your site set up the next day, you’re going to have problems! Also, cooking can be really difficult when you can’t even look at food without dry heaving…
“I’ll help you set everything up in a minute I swear…”
Bonus Lesson 2. Don’t show off to the local weatherman. Unless he has his camera crew with him of course. Opening up your BBQ’s to give him a quick lesson will just result in you losing heat and your cook getting off-track. And then he’ll just go interview someone with a bigger beard than you. Damn my patchy cheek bones!
Bonus Lesson 3. It’s not the size of the smoker, but how you use it. Don’t be intimidated by blokes with bigger BBQ’s than you. The beef ribs that scored a 4th place were cooked on a 31 year old, salvaged Weber. And the motion of the ocean, baby!
4th place beef ribs…
From garden shed to glory!
The full results of the competition are available on the Australasian BBQ Alliance Results Page.
What are some BBQ lessons you’ve learned? Let me know in the comments below.