I had a great time at the Snowshoe Grilling Challenge yesterday. At least what I can remember of it. I was doing the competition solo, so most of the day was a big blur. My apologies to those who were there but I didn't get a chance to visit. And to those I saw after the competition, I hope I made a little bit of sense.
As usual, the Tafts did a great job with the contest. Even after 17 years, they keep finding ways to improve the contest. A big thumbs up for having the judging and awards presentation in the hall rather than in the bar. This was a huge improvement compared to last year. The competition sites were great, and it was just an all around good time. The organizers can't take credit for this, but the weather was absolutely beautiful. A great kick-off to the grilling and barbecue season ahead.
Here are my personal results...
1) Rib eye steak - I was very disappointed in my rib eye steak entry. I let them go too long on the grill and overcooked them. The product was good, so they didn't suffer as much as a cheap rib eye would have, but they were still way overcooked. I also should have practiced the presentation a lot more prior to the day of the contest. All in all, the execution was really bad for this entry.
2) Chicken wings - Screw you, chicken wings! I can't blame things not going according to plan with my poor showing in chicken wings. Things went according to plan...it was just a bad plan. Investigating on the web, I see that a lot of past grilling contests in New England had chicken wings as one of the categories. I'm sure this category will keep coming up from time to time. Guess that means I should practice before it comes up again. I need to come up with a completely new plan. Chicken in general continues to be a problem.
3) Fattie - Call me Mr. Fattie. That is, if you don't already because of my portly figure. After I turned in the fattie box, I expected to get a call. I'm not saying that to be cocky, but I was confident in the entry. It came out better than I expected, and it ended up being my only call of the day.
4) Chef's choice - I was shocked to hear, out of 21 teams, that someone did the same chef's choice dish that I did. Now, that happens when you are doing something like ribs - especially beef ribs, which seem to be a very popular choice these days. But when you are doing pineapple upside down cake??? I was certainly surprised. I did mini pineapple upside down cakes in cast iron muffin pans. I don't mind saying this now, because I'm not planning on making them again. As with the rib eye, the execution was lacking and the cakes came out too moist. "Mushy" as one judge said, and I can't disagree with that! The taste was good, but the texture wasn't so great. Still, it was my second best turn-in of the day.
Overall I came in 9th out of 21 teams. While I was disappointed in my rib eye entry, I was still happy with coming in 9th considering the field of competitors. There were some really great, accomplished teams there, and this being only my second grilling contest I really can't complain! Congratulations to my friends at I Smell Smoke!, QHaven, Lakeside, and IQue, finishing 1, 2, 3, and 4 respectively. One team to really watch this year is Meat @ Slims. They took 5th at this contest, and I suspect they will do great things at their barbecue competitions this year.
Thanks again to everyone involved: the Abington VFW, the organizers, the reps, the judges, fellow competitors, and everyone else who was there supporting a great cause!