Saturday, March 25, 2006


There was no shortage of media coverage for the Mobile contest this year. This was my first year to attend so I do not have anything to compare it to but it seemed you could not turn around without hitting a cameraman or soundperson. I counted two local affiliates, NBC15 and FOX10. Also, Food Network had a crew there getting footage for an upcoming bbq release this summer. Should be good. However, I have mixed emotions regarding media coverage at bbq events.

I feel there is not enough coverage of competition bbq on the TV as it is. In fact, it was Food Network’s coverage of the American Royal several years ago that wet my appetite for competition bbq in the first place. I wish all the events could be covered and broadcast on every cable and satellite system in the world. The local Mobile media spent hours at the fairgrounds getting interviews and B-roll footage of the cooking process, turn-ins and the like. They did not just show up, get about 2-3 minutes of footage and go to lunch. They really covered it thoroughly. And who can say that Food Network’s devotion to competition bbq has not been good for the sport? It has made the likes of Chris Lilly, Byron Chism, Myron Mixon and others household names to people who might not otherwise know them. Entire series’ devoted to barbecue such as Chris Lilly’s program on OLN has really opened the door to barbecue on TV. As far as I am concerned, the more bbq on TV the better.

Competition bbq is enjoying its moment in the spotlight. I say we milk it for all it is worth. How many more folks will be lured into this wonderful life only because they "saw it on TV".

In the next post I will cover, in my opinion, the bad side of media coverage at competitions. Until then, go smoke something.

Ole Smokey

P.S. I am also in the process of putting together my newest blog, Final Table Poker. It will be up and running soon. My passion for this game has quickly caught up with bbq. I see a good marriage between the two in the years to come.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Chris Lilly - A Class Act

Of course, most of you probably already knew that. If you have ever had the opportunity to spend any time at all talking to Chris you’ve no doubt picked up on the fact that this man knows his stuff. I have had the opportunity to speak with Chris on several occasions and he has always been very gracious, humble and easy to talk to. That is huge considering his position in the world of competition bbq. Just to prove my point, try to walk up to any person who is considered the best at their craft (Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, etc) and engage in small talk. You probably will not get very far. Chris is a real gentleman and considers himself an ambassador for bbq, not a superstar. I went into the competition at Mobile with high regard and respect for Chris. However, his actions on Saturday solidified my belief that Chris truly one of the best.

Chris had camera crews following him all weekend. We were set up across the way from Big Bob Gibson’s space and had a front row seat all weekend. I watched as Chris gave of his time to talk with reporters and film crews to give them the finer points of good bbq. As Chris was preparing his boxes the cameras rolled. As he took the boxes to the turn in table he always had a cameraman in tow. His every move was being captured for all the viewing public to see.

Then it came time for the brisket category. I did not get to watch Chris during this time because I was preparing our brisket box. Our brisket entry was turned in with 3 seconds left before cut off. Yes, 3 seconds – and we were only two spaces away from the judges tent. More on that in another post. My first clue that something was wrong was when one of the nearby competitors said aloud, “they are not gonna let Chris turn in. He’s late.” When I turned around I saw Chris engaged in a very animated discussion with the contest rep. Chris was not screaming or causing a scene but you could tell he was diligently pleading his case. Several minutes later the lead contest rep entered the discussion and all three carried the conversation in a professional manner. But it was to no avail, he was DQ’d on brisket.

Now most folks (and probably me included) would have stomped back to their cook site with a scowl on their face making statements about how bad the reps were or how they should cut him some slack. I did not see this attitude in Chris. Speaking with him prior to the awards ceremony Chris told me that “it was on me. I was late and that’s my fault.” He had nothing but praise and support for the contest rep who had to make the unpleasant decision to DQ one of the sports all-time superstars. Chris even shook the reps hand and gave him a hug on his way to the stage to recieve one of his many calls that day. He told me that the rep made the right call. WOW!

Chris really showed some class in Mobile. Now don't get me wrong, Chris is a true competitor and his disappointment was evident. You could tell it was eating him up inside to have made this mistake. It is my opinion that the way Chris handled this situation will serve him a whole lot better than if he had reacted like most of us. Plus it will make for some good TV drama when the show airs this summer on Food Network.

Chris, my hat is off to you. Keep up the good work. You are truly a class act. Take a bow!

Ole Smokey

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Man, that was fun!!

Well, I got my first contest out of the way last weekend. Let me say right from the start that my hat is off to the men and women who do this on a regular basis. I have a newfound respect for these folks. I hope I can do enough contests to develop a pattern or game plan to make things go a little smoother. That is not to say that I did not have fun and enjoy the experience. Quite the contrary. I HAD A BLAST.

I cooked with my BBQ Forum buddy, Kudzu, under his teams' name "Kudzu BBQ". Kind of grows on ya don't it? Sorry! Anyway, we finished in the middle of the pack in Mobile. There were a total of 90 teams and we finished 42nd overall. Kudzu did get a call for his ribs (14th) - way to go partner. To be honest, we were hoping for a call in brisket too. However, that was not to be.

I have so many things that happened while in Mobile that I cannot possibly put them in one post. So I will make several posts over the next few weeks covering some of the things that went on. Here is just a brief list of things I will be writing about in the coming days:

- BBQ Bob's 400° wake-up call
- Wind, wind and more wind.
- Life, as I saw it, while set up next to HW and BBQ Bob.
- Turn in funnies. These are all true. It could not happen to anyone else.
- You sure that's chicken? Not everything tastes like chicken.
- Chris Lilly is a real gentleman.
- TV crews everywhere. Good or bad?
- Terry and Cecil from Mealtime BBQ. What a pair!
- Much more.

Ole Smokey

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Getting Ready to Go

I saw this picture posted on the BBQ Forum website and had to post it here as well. It is lovingly referred to as the "Double Bypass Burger" and rightfully so. It is sold at a place called The Heart Attack Grill in Tempe, AZ.

Now, let's talk some bbq. It is hard to believe that next weekend (March 10-11) I will be competing in my first KCBS cook off. My buddy, Kudzu, and I will be teamed up at the 2006 Mitchell Company BBQ Championship and Hog Wild Festival in Mobile, AL. Most contests have around 40-50 teams competing. I found out yesterday that Mobile has 80 teams with 10 on a standby list. That will be several more teams than anyone imagined.

Thursday, I started getting things together. I even practice packed the truck to make sure the stuff will fit. I will be taking my WSM and everything else I can fit in the truck. I think Kudzu will be bringing most of the things we need but some things you just cannot leave home without. I will be making my rubs and sauces ahead of time to make things a little easier at the cook site. I have a checklist already made out so maybe I won’t forget anything.

I am so excited about this first competition that I cannot stand it. I did not get to do as many practice cooks as I wanted but I feel pretty confident none the less. I look forward to the challenge of competing against some of the biggest and best BBQers around. Win or loose, it is going to be an experience that I will remember for a lifetime. It’s gonna be a blast.

I will get some pics and fill you in on all the happenings when I get back. If you live in the south and have nothing to do this next weekend, come down to Mobile. We’ll keep the party going till you get there.


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