Not even a day later, I get an e-mail from long time reader Rick, who has tried to get us to come taste his good BBQ in the past, and it turns out he and his brother Mark will be among the contestants at the BBQ Cook-off. Do we need any more encouragement? Not even!
We got to the entrance of Fiesta Texas and had no idea how huge this whole event really was. In fact, the Cowboy Breakfast I went to Friday morning was a mere coffee clutch compared to this shin-dig. Just getting in to park could have been an ordeal had most of the drivers not already been a bit lubed, if you know what I mean.You go from about four or five lanes all funneled into a single line without the benefit of a police officer or least a parking attendant to make people behave. Thankfully, Texans on a Saturday afternoon are generally good-natured folk, and we try to help one another by being courteous.Oh, I have to fast forward just a second to the end of our visit just to show you two things in the parking lot. First, there was this home made roll bar on some guys truck. That gave me a chuckle. I know, spend $25K on a truck then skimp on the roll bar by throwing together a few chunks of wood you found on the side of the road. I like it.The second thing was what we came out to after our time in the cook-off. Speaking of being courteous, a real Eagle Scout parked his truck over the line and so close to our little baby truck that I had to pull out just to let my wife get in. I wouldn't have mentioned it, but my wife insisted that I use the power of the Internet to remind people not to be assholes. Appreciate that.
So anyway, if you have never been to a serious BBQ cook-off like this one with hundreds of different teams, you will, like us probably be overwhelmed with the sight of all the different cooking rigs. People come complete with RV's and trailers full of perfect wood, huge grills and in some cases, entire buildings in order to make the event special.
It was evident that most teams have sponsors in order to offset the cost of the event (the meat is not free, the cost of the team space and of course, the incidentals such as spices, beer, sauces, beer, ice, beer, and... well, you get the point). It isn't cheap, but these folks seem to have lots of fun.
We made our way to "Those Two Guys", Rick and Mark, and you could just smell the goodness coming from their grill. We were just in time for the team to pull some ribs from the grill to present to the judges.I have to tell you, I love me some ribs, and these were pretty special. Rick tells me that this was the first time he had used this particular seasoning mixture in a contest and he was sort of kicking himself over the whole thing. Turns out they normally use a habanero-pineapple concoction he made up several years ago (which they have been very successful with in cook-offs) but he opted to go with this new taste. The texture of the ribs was simply melt in your mouth good, and the taste was great. I was trying to be polite by sharing a rib with my wife and she gave me the look that said, "get you own, chump!"Turns out these two brothers have been cooking out for a long time but got started with the BBQ cook-off circuit about five years ago. They heard of a contest sponsored by 99.5 KISS and on the first outing took first place. Ya gotta like that. Rick said that later contests would not be as easy, but they continue to do well participating in about eight cook-offs a year.As we walked around the grounds, it is obvious that a lot of serious money goes into these events. I'm guessing that a good many of the teams are made up of catering companies or restaurants. In the case of Those Two Guys, Rick and Mark have been able to gather the support of sponsors who have seen them in action over the years. I chatted with folks from Grapevine Graphics, one of their sponsors, and it turns out one of the owners is an original Silver Creek resident. Rick's employer, APPCO is a big sponsor of the team and he tells me that Fiesta Spices and Browning Construction have been big supporters as well.
I suppose this is like NASCAR where you have to be able to have some up front cash to get into the game. But in spite of all the really spiffy looking BBQ rigs and special effects people had, Rick told me about a cook off in Helotes where a guy showed up in a pick-up truck with a 55-gallon grill in the bed. The man put some charcoal in the pit - still in the bed of the truck, cooked his meat and won first place - then simply drove away. So it isn't always about the big show; there has to be some good eats to back it up.And in case you are wondering - no question about it - my wife and I were both in full thumbs up mode on Those Two Guys. Tasty Treats, for sure!
Of course, there are so many more pictures to see. Why not check them out on the Flickr page?