The first highlight of my day was watching my friend, Francis Dutton (a KCBS Certified BBQ Judge) reach his 30th contest, a requirement to becoming a Master BBQ Judge with the Kansas City Barbecue Society.
Francis spent most of his time in competition BBQ cooking, so the process to judge 30 contests was a bit delayed. Glad I was there to see this long-awaited moment reached. I remember how great it felt when I became a Master Judge back in 2010. So congratulations, Francis Dutton. Welcome to the club!
That said, congrats to the Grand Champion winner Phoenix BBQ! This team not only gobbled up first place in the Turkey Smoke, but landed 2nd in Chicken and 3rd in Pork placing in the Top 10 in almost all categories except Brisket in 11th place. Very close!.
The Reserve Grand went to Justin McGlaun (Lucky's Q), a name that is often called at the top of many contests. I am not sure the word lucky is the proper word to describe his craftsmanship in BBQ. Justin nailed 2nd in Brisket, 7th in Pork, and 4th in Ribs. A very strong showing. Great to see you again, Justin.
Another highlight of my day was to see Machete Boys BBQ slice their way to the top in the Chicken and Pork categories. Fantastic!
When awards subsided, I visited some cook friends over at Matty Mack's BBQ. David Ellis (Machete Boys BBQ) stopped over to say hi to me. I remembered meeting him for the first time at The Real Squeal contest a few years back in Cedar Rapids, IA. The reason I remembered him so well was that I remember his Texas brisket so well. David was my neighbor during the competition and let me try his Texas brisket. That sample of meat still haunts me to this day. HOLY COW! It was good stuff.
SNAP! My friends Bruce and Nanette Heckart drove back home from Oskaloosa (they live in Ottumwa and are also BBQ judges) and to my surprise, they bought me a bag of Puff Pillows from Jaarsma Bakery. The perfect dessert! Thank you, my friends.
While I look forward to BBQ competitions in 2022, I am still trying to decide whether to compete or judge next year. Guess I will let serendipity take its course like it did today.
-- BBQ CRITIC