008 Lukas Armstong – Consistency

In Episode Eight of the Comp Ready series of The Smoking Hot Confessions Podcast, I chat with Lukas Armstrong from Rollin’ Smoke BBQ. Please be sure to Subscribe to the Podcast and leave a Review to spread the love.

Rollin’ Smoke has been consistently at the top of the competition ladder throughout the season and at the time of recording were preparing to make a run on second place after the upcoming Kangaroo Valley Competition. They are known in the game as having the best ribs in the country… except for Tony and Adam!

Want more? Be sure to pick up your free ebook: 27 Lessons Learned from Competition BBQ

Thanks and appreciation go to Coastline Barbeques and Heating for sponsoring the first series of the Smoking Hot Confessions podcast. Check out their website for more!

Show Notes
  • For a little home cook, Lukas will use his Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS)
  • He likes to cook in trays to help keep his smoker clean
  • His first experience with real BBQ was in a little BBQ joint near Disneyland
  • The highlight of his BBQ experience has been Port Macquarie’s BBQ Wars in 2016
    • Won 1st place pork ribs
    • Won 8th place brisket
  • Pork is Lukas’ nemesis cut
    • He has little interest and therefore doesn’t practice them much
  • He loves ‘7 Sins’ rubs and sauces a lot
  • In 2016, Lukas competed in 9 competitions and returned the following numbers:
    • 39 hand-ins
    • 19 hand-ins ended up in the Top Ten
    • 10 in the Top Five
    • 5 in the Top Three
    • 2 2nd Places
    • 2 1st places
    • 2 Reserve Grand Champions
  • The three teams that Lukas most admires are:
    • Suck Knuckle Smokers
    • Smoking Hot Bros
    • Double Barrel BBQ
  • Consistency is the key to success
  • Lukas is usually a one-man team but has had a few people pop in and out to help at certain comps
    • He takes control and responsibility for his cooking at comps and tends to use his team mates as extra sets of hands
    • He doesn’t often cook with his team mates – usually just at the comps themselves
  • He will do a practice run of a competition recipe once a week
  • He uses the same butchers and brands every time now that he’s found people who are able to supply products that he’s happy with
    • Swears by Jack’s Creek for brisket
  • Got in trouble with once when he sliced his brisket while still in foil. The result was he had a sliver of foil in his hand-in box and he got 1s for presentation across the board
  • Now he wraps in peach paper
    • It doesn’t fully seal, so the brisket doesn’t steam
    • Lukas actually used it for wrapping and he even lays out peach paper on his table tops for trimming
    • It’s good value – roughly $80 for 1000 feet (about 300 metres)
  • 99% of the time he will use the same recipes at each competition, but:
    • He will make small changes for certain competitions E.g. he reduced the chili in one of his rubs for a competition in a country town as people from country towns generally aren’t as open to that amount of heat
  • Once he finds a cut that he likes, he will stick with that cut at all of this comps
    • His favourite cut of chicken is breast
      • He prefers white meat to red
      • They are a lot easier to prep, which is a big concern for a one-person team
    • The number of times he practices a recipe before taking them to comps depends on how much time he was at the time and what his family wants to eat
      • Chicken and lamb are his go-to meats for fast, family friendly cooks
    • Having a good average is the best thing to do to score well at competitions
      • It’s better than working on one ‘Hero Dish’ and just getting by with the others
    • He cooks on a 30-inch Bullock Head Creek trailer mounted offset
      • He also has an Ugly Drum Smoker, but uses the offset at comps exclusively
    • You’ve got to be on your toes more with an offset as opposed to a UDS – they are a lot more work
    • Lukas finds that the food he cooks on his offset tastes consistently better than the food he cooks in his UDS
    • For fuels, he uses Firebrand Lump Charcoal and Oak Wood in his offsets
      • He goes for Oak over Iron Bark as he prefers the smoke and the way it burns
      • Also, he prefers Oak as it makes him a bit different than everyone else using Iron Bark
    • In his drum he uses Firebrand Lump or Briquette with fruit wood for smoke
      • Apple and pork works well, but he doesn’t use it much
      • He quite likes using Pecan chunks for smoke
    • He has a set plan that he usually follows at comps – what he’s going to do and when
      • He always makes time for some sleep
      • The plan needs to remain flexible depending on how things are cooking and turning out
    • He doesn’t conduct competition drills – practicing cooking under comp conditions
      • Doesn’t have the time, motivation or energy
    • The most important key to consistency is
      • Practice
      • Getting rubs and sauces set the way you want them
    • Lukas prefers being a team of one as he finds it more challenging and therefore more rewarding
    • Look for sponsors – it will help you out a lot over the course of the year
    • In his offsets, he uses charcoal to generate the heat and wood for smoke
    • Lukas’s top three tips
      • Be prepared, but don’t go overboard: you don’t need to pack your whole kitchen
      • Pre-make your rubs and sauces
      • The less work you have to do at the comp, the better off you’ll be