The Texas BBQ Team really began in 2008 on cold December day in Dallas, Texas. I was writing my personal goals for the coming year. For the previous couple of years I kept meaning to get around to entering a BBQ contest just for the fun of it and to see what I could learn. I decided another year wasn’t going to pass me by and I wrote a personal goal for 2009 to compete in a BBQ contest—I wasn’t even sure which contest that I would enter. I was on the mailing list for the State Fair of Texas and about June of that year they sent their book of State Fair contests. Sure enough, there was a BBQ Ribs and BBQ Chicken Contest. So I began doing a little research and practicing a few recipes. Of course, life was busy and I was a little intimidated. After all, how am I going to compete with those seasoned competitors?
It turns out that I had a much better background for competition BBQ than I realized. First, I had a wealth of people in my life that were very generous with their advice and tips. Second, I have been lucky enough to enjoy some of the best BBQ in the country. It helps to know the best if you want to be the best!. That leads me to the most important skill a competition cook can possess. They must be brutally honest with themselves when they compare their BBQ to the best BBQ! I seem to be able to do that pretty well. The hardest thing I had to learn was to keep these evaluations to myself.
In September of 2009, it was time for my first competition. I packed my car and headed to Fair Park where the Great State Fair of Texas has been held since 1886. I set up my smoker and gave it my best effort. I entered the BBQ Ribs Contest. My goal was to learn as much as possible–and I had a lot to learn. This particular contest is a sprint. The gates open at 6:00 AM and “turn-in” for ribs is 1:00 PM.
I visited with many of my fellow competitors while we waited for the judges. I met Tom Dozier who won the Chili Cook-Off that day. In 2010, he won the CASI World Chili Cook-Off in Terlingua. I was struck by how helpful and friendly the competitors were to each other. I remember a couple of first-time chili competitors were having trouble keeping their stoves going in the wind. Fellow competitors quickly volunteered to loan their competitors wind screens.
Soon it was time for the big announcement. And the winner is… Larry Moody from Dallas, Texas! I was astonished that I won the 2009 State Fair of Texas BBQ Ribs Contest on my first try. Wow!
In 2010, there were more competitors and I decided to enter the BBQ Chicken Contest in addition to the BBQ Ribs Contest. It was great to see my friends from the previous year. I learned even more than I did the year before. Once again, I was thrilled when the judges called my name. I won the Blue Ribbon for BBQ Ribs and the Red Ribbon for BBQ Chicken.
More to come…