Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Event: Tony Stone BBQ Cook-off

This weekend was the 27th and final running of the Tony Stone BBQ Cook-off in Cookeville, Tennessee. This cook-off is a professional BBQ contest sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society and it is held at the same time as the idyllic town's Fall FunFest.  

Last year, we registered for the contest but couldn't attend. Mick Chessor agreed to compete in our place in 2016 as long as Alexis and I competed with him this year.  I just had two heart procedures ten days before this contest and was on limited duty, but I wasn't going to miss the final year of the Tony Stone BBQ Cook-off.  Alexis and Mick just did all of the "heavy lifting"

I didn't take my camera but here are some phone pictures from the event.

The cook-off was well organized and I hate to see it go, but I understand how difficult it is to maintain such an event over so many years.

Tony Stone BBQ Cook-off Cookeville, TN #bbq #bbqcompetition
This was our first contest using a Deep South Smokers insulated box smoker instead of kamado grills (Big Green Egg, Grilla Kong, Grill Dome, Primo, etc.).  Not having to break down and move four 200-lb kamado grills was so much easier and faster.  But with all that red, I might have to buy a Kamado Joe to have on the trailer.

Jackie and Sherry Price's rig for their team, Smoke on This.  They are seasoned pros and win more than their share of these contests.  He uses Backwoods cookers (see them through the window), a drum smoker, and a PK Grill. 

Tony Stone BBQ Cook-off Cookeville, TN #bbq #bbqcompetition
A nice Yoder Smokers pull behind pellet smoker.

Tony Stone BBQ Cook-off Cookeville, TN #bbq #bbqcompetition
It was good to see George Ewart (George Ewart Architect and partner at Dead End BBQ) competing here this weekend.  His Dead End BBQ Society team won the State Championship at this event several years ago.  His cooker is a Champion Smoker & Grills offset pit.  I got to see John Molloy use this exact cooker 2 years ago and I was impressed with how it held temperature and the heat distribution.

Tony Stone BBQ Cook-off Cookeville, TN #bbq #bbqcompetition
Big Orange Smokers' trailer.  Now that I have an insulated cooker, it would have been better to get a patio style trailer like this rather than the fully enclosed one that I have now.   That way you leave your cooker on the trailer instead of having to roll it on and off.

The "Blind Dog" mascot was pretty cool.  The mannequin needs to watch the open container laws ;)

River Road Grillbillies were our neighbors, once again.  I love this cute BBQ pig that they have out front.

Algood BBQ Crew and Soggy Bottom Smokers set up at the other end of the street from us.

Jiggy Piggy (Decatur AL)  and Two Butties (Hammond LA) getting set up.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't get a bit envious of the teams that have RV's like this.
Team Allegro was there, competing and passing out samples of their products.  I knew of their marinades, especially for game, but had no idea that they had BBQ sauces until I saw their team rig.  I got a bottle to try out at home.

Mid-afternoon on Friday means it is time to prep the "big meats" which are brisket and pork butts. Usually I trim them at home and then inject/season them on site, but this time I did the trimming there too.
Tony Stone BBQ Cook-off Cookeville, TN #bbq #bbqcompetition #certifiedangusbeef
I couldn't get a Certified Angus Beef brisket this time so I went with two USDA prime briskets from Costco instead.  This one was a 17 pound beauty.  

For competitions, we separate the points and the flats.  Here are the two points.  One was seasoned with an experiment we were trying and the upper one was seasoned with Smoking Guns Hot and our Umami Steak Seasoning.

Tony Stone BBQ Cook-off Cookeville, TN #bbq #bbqcompetition
One of the two flats trimmed, injected, and seasoned.  Now they sit refrigerated for about 12 hours, absorbing the seasonings.

Pork butts with the money muscle trimmed & exposed.  These were injected with a mix of apple juice, distilled water, salt, sugar and a thickener.  The seasoning was a blend of commercial rubs.
The ancillary contests were on Friday night and the only one we did was the Wampler's Sausage category.   Alexis and I brainstormed this recipe while standing in the produce department.

Grilling the ingredients that will go into our dish.  We brought the my Big Green Egg Mini-Max along for making meals and cooking the ancillaries. 

Then we switched the Mini-Max to indirect heat so we could fire roast these stuffed poblano chiles at 400°f.

The poblanos were stuffed with rice, grilled onions, fire roasted peppers, Wampler's sausage, and a blend of cheeses.  The topping was more cheese and panko bread crumbs.  The scores ranged from 9-9-9 (best you can get) all the way down to one judge that must have hated it 7-6-6.  We only ended up placing 18th.  Just a few tweaks (more sausage, no bread crumbs, just cheese on top) and I'll reuse this recipe.

My favorite BBQ contests are ones that are associated with local festivals.  Sevierville with the blues festival, Tryon, NC with their town festival, and Cookeville with the Fall FunFest are all good examples of this.  The whole community comes together to celebrate and relax together.

The FunFest had plenty of arts and crafts vendors plying their wares on the closed streets of Cookeville.

Large covered seating areas like this give people a place to get a break from the sun and enjoy eating with their neighbors.

The food vendors were busy with lines of hungry festival goers and seemed to keep the food cranking out.

The main square was filled with folks listening to the bands on stage.

There was a family fun section with plenty of activities for the young and young at heart.

For dinner Friday night, we seasoned thick porterhouse pork chops with my Umami Steak Seasoning recipe and grilled them on the BGE Mini-Max for about 6-8 minutes per side until they were 145°f internal.  We served that with the leftover poblano stuffing and some Bush's Grillin' Beans. 

Then it was time to relax.  We didn't have anything to do until 2am so we watched a bit of the live music, told lies with our competitors, and had a few frosty beverages.

Pulling the brisket flats for wrapping.

Alexis putting the ribs back on for one last kiss of smoke, after the racks were sauced.

Mick saucing his chicken turn ins.

Chicken turn ins.

BBQ ribs Tony Stone BBQ Cook-off Cookeville, TN #bbq #bbqcompetition
Pork rib turn ins.

Tony Stone BBQ Cook-off Cookeville, TN #bbq #bbqcompetition
Pork turn ins.

Tony Stone BBQ Cook-off Cookeville, TN #bbq #bbqcompetition
Brisket turn ins - slices with 2 types of burnt ends.

The awards ceremony was held at the main stage at the town square.  We got 7th place in brisket and 13th overall.  Not a horrible showing but I definitely have to get back into the groove of competition cooking.

Congratulations to Hot Coles on winning Grand Champion and a State Championship. The full results can be found on the KCBS website.  I have some "rust to knock off" but I enjoy my new cooking set up and I'm looking forward to our next competition.  Thanks to Mick for having us cook with him!