The kind people from Cascades Casino in downtown Langley invited me out to their site this weekend for The Canadian Festival of Chili and Barbecue. I missed yesterday’s chili cook-off but made it to the casino for today’s barbecue championship round.
The dominant theme of the day was line-ups. People were lined up 50 or 60 deep just to get a taste of a piece of barbecued chicken, pork or beef brisket. The frustrating thing for most of the people in these line-ups was that the first 10 to 20 would get a taste of the barbecue and then the barbecue people were out of goods.
I swear at one time I saw a small kid with barbecue sauce smeared all over his hands and a crowd gathered around him. I think they saw his fingers and started dreaming about ribs.
While at the barbecue championship I chatted with many barbecue people; some professionals, some who barbecue for a hobby. However, I really connected with two of the teams in the competition; Wine Country Q and Rusty’s Barbecue.
Wine Country Q is a husband and wife barbecue team. I asked if they were “professional barbecue” people and they both laughed and then said that, “This is simply a hobby gone wild.”
I commented that at least it is cheaper than racing cars for a hobby and they both said that barbecuing is only marginally cheaper than racing cars.
John and Rhana McGee of Wine Country Q both said that barbecuing is one of those passions where you definitely do not, or cannot quit your day job.
The day was organized so that barbecue competitors had to have their chicken ready and handed-in for the double-blind judging at 1pm.
At 2pm they had to have their pork ribs ready and into the judges.
As important as barbecue skills are, timing of the barbecue is just as important. If they leave the ribs on to long they dry out, if they don’t have time to come off and rest they are not as good…this is way more complicated than what your daddy did on the grill in the backyard.
The other “team” that captured my heart was Rusty’s Barbecue. This is a team made up of…Rusty Johnson of Port Moody. One guy with an unlabelled red tent, no sign or flashy outfit. One guy and his bullet barbecues.
This weekend’s competition was his first competition as a pro. And the really cool thing is that on Saturday he won second place for his burger. Not bad for a young guy in his first competition!
I asked what he did to make his burger the winning burger (well, 2nd place winner). The secret? He stuffed the burger meat (chopped sirloin) with some jalapeno havarti cheese. As the burger cooks the cheese melts inside releasing the oils.
He also admitted that he has secret techniques that he uses that he was not prepared to share.
Most of the barbecue competitors I spoke to use cherry and hickory wood in their barbecues. For a more delicate flavour on chicken or turkey some of them use apple wood. I was somewhat surprised to see how many of the competitors use bags of Kingford briquets in their barbecues.
I didn’t stay to here the final judging from today’s competition so I do not know who won what. The results will be posted on the Pacific North West Barbecue Association website in the coming days. I will be checking to see if Wine Country Q or Rusty won. And as soon as I do find out I will let you know.
I am looking forward to next year’s barbecue event. Apparently it was such a success that Cascades Casino is already planning for next year’s barbecue championship.
Disclosure; the views expressed here are based on my personal opinion. I did not receive any form of compensation from any of the barbecue competitors or Cascades Casino or anybody else for writing this blog post. As with all my blog entries, editorial control remains mine and mine alone. If you have any concerns or want to speak to me about this or any blog post, email me at Editor@TheLeftCoast.ca.