Just had to share this video from our friends at the World Food Championships, featuring Lucas talking about his motivation for cooking at the World Food Championships. We love the segment and feel so grateful that the WFC folks helped us capture a memory from that great event.
A couple of late schedule changes put us in the great position of being able to add another contest, so we figured we’d head back down to Pickin’ and Pullin’ in Lanexa for a fun filled weekend.
We got down there early Thursday morning and got to see a lot of familiar faces, but also a bunch of folks we hadn’t seen yet this season, including the Palmers of New Revolution Q and Wes and Christina of Makin’ Bacon (a fantastic name.)
One group was there, however, that we didn’t realize was coming–our friends John and Tony from Historic BBQ out of Ohio.
When Kim and Luke decided to attend the KCBS Banquet in January, they decided to randomly sit at a table so that they could meet new people. They sat down and were greeted by a couple of judges, and these two fellas from Historic BBQ in Ohio who were in the running for the Smithfield Team of the Year award, a contest that was held throughout the entire 2015 BBQ season.
They didn’t know where they had finished, and were extremely nervous during dinner. After some good-natured professional football differences of opinion, the whole table rallied around John and Tony as they started to announce the Smithfield Team of the Year.
As they made it to the final two, the tension was thick. The whole table had goosebumps. And boom…Historic BBQ, 1st place. Kim and Luke were super ecstatic for their new friends, who were promptly whisked away by the Smithfield folks.
Fast forward to Lanexa. The Historic BBQ rig will leave you speechless. It’s an impressive cooking machine. But it isn’t nearly as impressive as John and Tony themselves. They openly welcome all visitors, show them everything and are true ambassadors of not only Smithfield, but of the sport of BBQ. They answer all questions and truly are two of the nicest people in BBQ. If they are cooking at an event near you, OVS highly encourages you to pay them a visit.
(Pitmaster’s Note – I’d also highly encourage you to try the Smithfield Prime product. We received some and it cooks GREAT.)
After a normal Friday, we headed to dinner with the Historic boys, Mark and Sharon from Checkered Flag 500, and Rick and Liz Hamilton from Hambones By The Fire. Rick would be joining OVS on Saturday for some cleaning and turn-in action. It was a fantastic dinner, and it’s always great to bring BBQ people together.
The cook itself didn’t go as planned. Some adjustments had to be made throughout the night, but things looked to be on course in the morning when Rick and Leigh Anne showed up.
Upon Leigh Anne’s arrival, she informed the group that not all awards had been given at Hagerstown. So, we had to make a delivery…1st place Sno-Cone.
That joke will never grow old.
We headed to awards, and started off strong with 4th place in chicken. That would be the only call of the day for OVS, but a lot of friends did really well. A huge shout out to Aporkalypse Now for the GC, 3 Eyz for the RGC and a special call out to Mark Gibbs for a perfect 180 in Pork!
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Last week, we jumped into the cauldron that is known as the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour. Sam’s Club has a tournament that basically runs all year long. There are five regions with five local qualifiers in each region. To advance to the regional, you have to finish in the top 6 of your local qualifier.
Last weekend was our local qualifier at Sam’s Club in Laurel, MD. The goal…a top six finish so that we could cook the very next weekend at the regional in Richmond, VA. It would not be easy.
Usually one or the other of the locals in our area get slammed with the majority of the great teams from the mid Atlantic. Laurel was that local this year. It seemed like everyone was going to be there. Including Tuffy Stone from Cool Smoke.
We got there early and got to see our great friends Mike and Michelle from Hog It Up BBQ. We got to hang out for a while. Then Mr. Bob arrived. Bob cooked with us in Fredericksburg, VA, and is going with us to the American Royal in October, so he wanted some reps in with the team and volunteered to come to Laurel.
Bob was, in no fewer words, a machine. He helped with all manner of set up items and we were ready to go around noon time.
The girls would show up around dinner time and we would head over to a pot luck hosted by Rockin Robyn’s. Great food, and we even broke out the guitars for a bit of pickin’ and singing.
The weather was amazing, and everything went according to plan for the most part. Except for a bit of a mishap around 1 a.m. in the trailer. It was cool enough for Kim to sleep in the truck, so we only had the one cot set up in the trailer. We had it skooched over onto one side while Leigh Anne was grabbing her back pack, and as she started to move towards the trailer door, her leg caught the cot leg….and boom…lesbian face plant. Face down, on the ground. No arms. Just BAM.
I rushed over to see if LAT was okay. She hopped up and said, “I need to go sit down.” I followed her out. She checked everything and was fine. So then I could begin the laughing. I honestly had never seen anyone fall like that.
The rest of our cook went well. We were excited for awards, but nervous and anxious at the same time.
And awards…well, awards were awesome. 2nd chicken, 3rd ribs, 8th pork, and 3rd brisket. We knew we were in the mix, but it was going to be close.
And we ended up winning GC by .49 over our dear friends Rockin Robyn’s.
Which means it’s Richmond for the next two weeks, and no long drives to Myrtle Beach! Hoodie hoo!
There will be a little bit of everything in this one…
It was Old Virginia Smoke’s first foray into the Safeway BBQ Battle in Washington, DC. It has been said that the contest is a logistical nightmare, with a late load in on Friday night, late turn ins on Saturday, super large crowds and just in general, being in DC.
And yes, most of that is true.
There also would be the addition of onsite judging in the ribs and pork categories. The onsite judging score would be combined with the KCBS rib score and pork score to determine the National Pork Champion.
We would arrive on Constitution Ave. at around 7:30 p.m., where we would meet Leigh Anne, who was already checked into the hotel. We heard that we could be there a while, even till midnight, but we were prepared. However, Mike Fay from Aporkalypse Now and Keith Tremel from Fat Maxine’s pressed the issue and we got situated at around 9:30.
We immediately got meat inspected, and set to work on the first three categories: chicken, brisket and lamb.
We had concocted a special plan for the lamb, and we’re going to grind it and do lamb sliders. Something different.
We set out on Saturday full of vigor. Several road blocks presented themselves—1.). It would rain….all day…and very hard. 2.) Lamb was being judged KCBS style. No veggies. No bread. No sliders.
We needed a new plan.
We were joined on Saturday by Sir William Stillwell, aka “The Goat” from sports radio fame. The four of us put our heads together and decided to make lamb meatballs, which we decided to call “William stillwell’s Goa’ Balls.” We knew they weren’t going to win. So we had fun with it.e
Chicken and brisket were ok. The timelines were screwy…the weather was screwy. It was just odd. But we got right to work on ribs and pork for the next days turn ins. The girls would get good sleep in the hotel, and we would be ready to rock and roll.
Talk about a sea change in the weather. Sunday was magnificent. Nice sun, blue sky…and good fires all night long. We felt like we were missing a bunch of things. But it turns out that all were missing was he chicken and brisket from the day before. Pork and ribs went off without a hitch.
Now it was time for the onsite judging. The girls did a fantastic job in decorating the table for the judges and the grill for the meat. First was ribs. I’m lucky to cut up a rack of ribs and hit one or two bones. Now I’d have to do it front of people. In the one rack, I got four clean bones. So each judge got 2 ribs. It went great. (Thank you Mike Fay for the shot of whiskey to cal me down.).
Next was pork, and it went well. Again, none of this would have happened had it not been for the girls. So much hard work and attention to detail. Made everything beautiful.
We did our best to get as cleaned up as we could, and headed to awards. Surrounded by BBQ legends and heavy hitters, it was definitely humbling. We were cooking a major competition, and hoping for a call.
Chicken and brisket were first. And no calls. It was a three way race between great friends of ours…Pork Barrell, Serial Griller, and Aporkalypse Now.
And then it was the dreaded lamb. They called four…and we didn’t hear our name. Come to find out…the amazing Goa’ Balls finished fifth, one spot out of the money!
On to ribs….and the names keep coming off…until they announce Old Virginia Smoke as the rib champ!!! What a relief…at least we heard our name. Then pork comes down, and we get a second place behind our new friend Matt Barber with Hot Wachulas! Man…two great calls.
We forgot about the pork championship and the Safeway ribs championship. OVS takes both,and named the national pork champion. Hahahaha. It’s still so fun to say.
Great job to everyone that heard their names called! A great competition, and I cannot wait for next year. America!!
Last week was the Almost Heaven BBQ Bash in Buckhannon, WV. The crew had been looking forward to this event for a long time. An auto to the jack. An event back in Luke and Leigh Anne’s home state. And an opportunity to cook for a bunch of family and friends that otherwise wouldn’t get a chance to see us.
After a great night in Morgantown, we headed to Buckhannon on Friday and got set up pretty quick. We got to reunite with a lot of our BBQ friends, and made a few new ones as well. We had a nice group dinner at the Mexican restaurant before it was time to get to gettin’.
However, the theme would quickly become rain. It rained and stormed off and on for most of the weekend.
We had the pleasure of cooking next to our buddy Tom Bera and Philly Blind Big. A fabulous time was had trading song lyrics and movie quotes all day.
We had a really good cook, but didn’t have long to relax. We had visitors from all sides….a lot of Luke’s family and well, as Leigh Anne put it, “everyone that would come to my (Leigh Anne’s) funeral.” There was barely a stitch of meat left.
That was coupled with the anticipation of a very powerful thunderstorm coming through. A big thanks to the Aporkalypse fellas for helping us tear down our site. We quickly stashed everything into the trailer, including mom, and then waited it out. Awards would be in the Moose Lodge.
We had another really good cook. 2nd place ribs, 7th place pork and 8th place brisket in a really hard field. Big congrats to 3 Eyz BBQ on their GC and Checkered Pig for their RGC. And a huge shout out to Mark Gibbs with Checkered Flag 500 on his 180 brisket.
Enough words cannot be said about the Almost Heaven BBQ Bash crew. They were on the spot for all of our needs. What a great first year comp. We look forward to going back next year and giving it another spin.
Next week it’s on to DC for the Safeway BBQ Battle! We hope to see you there!
Back to one of our favorite competitions ever, the Beltway BBQ Showdown in Ft. Washington, MD. Its one of our favorites in that it was the first competition that we judged, and the first competition where we won GC.
Luke would get there on Thursday to get set up that night, as he and Kim would have to work on Thursday. Halfway through setting up the pop up/first beer, Luke was notified by Kim that he left all of his clothes at home. Setup would be cut short.
Luke would get in the truck and head to Walmart for all the clothing and sundry needs. However, he wouldnt think to check the back gate of the truck. Somewhere between the campground and the Walmart is a propane tank, mostly full. Good stuff.
Leigh Anne would head out frist thing on Friday, and complete set up. Luke would roll in around 2 and start meat prep, and Kim would bring in the rear.
There is a lot more to this story…but I forgot about this post. I found a half completed draft. So let’s just put some musings here. Jonathan does a great job. Also, Jonathan will do some terrible things for you for a modest fee. Ok, I made that part up. He is the man. The contest is awesome. But I put up a picture of the girls, because without them, this wouldn’t happen. I give them a lot of shit and stuff…and they call me on it. But they are the the machine that makes us tick. I love them both more than I can ever type here. I wouldn’t wanna do BBQ without them.
We had a good cook. It was hotter than hades that day, and all of our friends got calls , which was pretty sweet. We finished up third overall, just a skosh out of RGC land. Huge ups to Pork Barrell BBQ on GC and Aporkalypse Now on RGC.
Memorial Day weekend is always special for us. We make our annual pilgrimage to Rochester, New York, to visit Kim’s family for the weekend and participate in the Roc City Rib Fest. It is a fantastic event, hosted by Brian and John, two fantastic guys. Just a great crew of organizers and volunteers that make sure you don’t want for anything.
Roc City plays host to a rib only competition on Saturday, as well as the World Bacon Championships. We didn’t cook bacon last year, but practiced a bunch this year.
Roc City also plays host to a bunch of pitfalls to reach up and grab ya. Friday night last year was a hell of a party, one which Luke wasn’t quite expecting. This year, he came prepared.
After setting up Friday afternoon, and then having a marvelous dinner made by Aunt Debbie, Bean, Mommas, Uncle Mike, Kristine, Dusty, Vince and Mini Vinny….(and lest not forget 8 layer jello by Miss Carly), Luke returned to the park loaded for bear, and went to visit his buddy DivaQ with a pre-planned bottle of blackberry shine.
The whole DivaQ crew was in the house, and the first bottle of shine was eliminated in what seemed like minutes. The chant “pineapple! pineapple!” started. Then that jar was eliminated.
All told, it took about 45 minutes.
Everyone was feeling good. Real good. Except Miss Jessie, who kept looking at Luke and giving him throat slash gestures.
Not to go into too much detail, but there were many hilarious and somewhat tragic moments throughout the evening. Of note–
–Watched a grown man run in his underwear through the park and back to get a cheap beer hat. Was not Luke.
–Luke putting on a fantastic dancing display, of which many compliments were given the next day. (Whether it was magnificent or not is all conjecture. Very little was remembered.)
–a dancing display that was punctuated by Luke falling over in a cook site, destroying a chair, and not going over very well.
So Saturday begins with Kim arriving at the trailer to find Luke perfectly situated in his cot, heat on, and afraid of the light. We began our bacon prep and cooking, and began the apology tour that was necessary. (Again, I’m so sorry about the chair Jay.)
The bacon cook was fun. With all of that however, the rib cook on Saturday kinda got lost, and we didn’t do so well. But we did manage a 9th place call in bacon in a box, and Kim earned a 9th place dessert call with her fantastic bourbon bacon chocolate pecan pie. Everything back to normal, a beautiful air show by the Blue Angels, and Rochester garbage plates completed the evening. It was time to make the donuts.
The great part about cooking different events around the country is meeting new people. We met a ton this year, but wanted to give a special shout out to our new friends at Rack Em BBQ and Sweet Heat BBQ. Couldn’t ask for better neighbors or a better time.
We had a good cook. No surprises. And another air show which was fantastic. We went to awards feeling good.
Didn’t know what we were in store for.
We won chicken. That had never happened before. And then…we won ribs. Holy crap. Then a 6th place pork call. Looking pretty good, but so was our good friend Bill Gillespie with Smokin’ Hoggz, winner of last year’s American Royal Invitational. Who also collects beer hats.
Brisket comes down, and Bill gets his fourth call. And OVS gets shut out. They hate our brisket up north.
They announce the top ten and it comes down to the two of us. And OVS eeeked out a .5 point win for our second ever GC.
Such an amazing weekend, one that won’t be forgotten for a long time. We will miss our northern BBQ family, and look forward to seeing them on the BBQ trail.
Huge thank you to our sponsors Dizzy Pig, BBQ Guru, Hav’n a BBQ Sauce, Kosmos Q, and the Wine’ing Butcher.
On to the next one at the Beltway BBQ Showdown in Ft. Washington, MD.
The American Royal. The World Series of BBQ. Kansas City, Missouri.
Old Virginia Smoke went there in our second year. How awesome.
By qualification from our win in Fort Washington, MD, we got to drive halfway across the country to compete with the world’s best BBQ teams in the American Royal Invitational and the American Royal Open.
It was quite the undertaking, to say the least. Lucas and his friend Keith set out on Friday night the week before for sort of a “boys” trip across America. We stopped in Big 12 country to see family and friends in Morgantown, WV. We then put in a full day down I-70 and ended up in SEC Country in Columbia, Missouri. (See…that doesn’t make much sense…)
Hit KC on Sunday and enjoyed watching football and trying out some bars in the area. On Monday, we were fortunate enough to have great seats at Arrowhead Stadium for the Chiefs thumping of the Patriots. A few days of work, and every food recommendation from Diva Q…and it was time to get down to business.
There are two sides to the parking lot at the American Royal. Lot A, and Lot B. We were on what’s known as “The Dark Side.” This area is populated by corporate parties, keggers, ice luges and generally tomfoolery. And OVS was right in the middle of it.
We were pretty sheltered from the madness, and spent a lot of time with the other invitational teams over on the other side. A fabulous steak dinner on Thursday night from our friends at Redneck Scientific (that was a perfect 180 steak, Sean) followed up by some guitar and guitjo playing from Luke, Leigh Anne and Sean resulted in one of the best Thursdays we have ever had at a BBQ competition.
Friday was game time. Neil Pappalardo, who came all the way to KC to help us out, landed around 10. We got the perimeter set up, purchased some firewood for the WSM fire pit, and prepped everything. Beautiful fireworks and thumpin bass set the tone for the evening. At about 3 a.m., all finally went quiet on the Western front.
We had a really good cook. Of course there were 10 things that I wish I had done different, but still…thought it went really well. Got everything turned in on time, and then sat down for some delicious beer with Jay Reeder at 420 Q, and the good folks at Aporkalypse Now. The girls and Neil got all of the sides and the dessert put together and turned in. All was over but the cryin’, part 1.
The awards were like nothing we had ever been to. Everyone in the BBQ universe was there. We had arranged to watch awards with our good friends from back east, Rock and Dreama from Rock’s Money Pit.
Awards came and went, and MABA rose up STRONG. (Again, I apologize if I miss anyone. It isn’t intentional.)
Big congrats to Tommy with Checkered Pig for 13th chicken, to Superman Jerry for 10th place Ribs, to our friends Mike and Barb with Chix, Swine and Bovine for 4th Ribs and 6th place pork, Beerbeque for 4th place pork. A special shout to Rock’s Money Pit, with a PERFECT PERFECT 180 (all 9’s) in brisket!
A very huge congrats to Chix, Swine and Bovine for a 10th overall finish. And a tremendous congratulations to our friend Bill Gillespie and his team Smokin Hoggz BBQ for their GC in the Invitational. We met Bill earlier in the year when we ventured up to Rochester, NY. It was such fantastic spectacle to see a friend win.
OVS finished highest in ribs with a 28th place finish, and a 69th place finish in brisket. I won’t lie. Despite knowing that the odds were low against such stiff competition, I still thought we’d get a call. Definitely thought the brisket was good enough. Got a nice little pep talk from Superman and, after another fantastic meal prepared by Roxanne with Redneck Scientific, we went back to the trailer and got after it.
A lot of time was spent thinking about the previous day’s cook. We talked about some little tweaks that we could make. We were being challenged. We had never cooked a back to back competition before. Everyone was beat. But we had to press on.
Much quieter the second night on the dark side. More fireworks, and another Royals victory. And another very solid cook. We did it, and that was a sense of accomplishment on its own. We went to the Open awards with our heads held high, ready to root for our friends. As customary, we went to the other side of the arena, which we do for every awards presentation that we’ve been to twice. And then, all of a sudden, we’re sitting next to Tuffy Stone, Jamie Geer, and Rod Gray. No big deal!
Another fantastic finish for MABA teams. Mike and Barb followed up their 10th place in the Invitational with a 10th place in the Open. That’s a tremendous accomplishment. And a huge congrats to Tuffy Stone from Cool Smoke on their GC. That gives them the Royal Invitational last year, the Jack, and this year’s Open. That’s unprecedented.
And lo and behold, Old Virginia Smoke got called up for 2nd place beans! We heard our name there. We got the boots dirty. And that alone was worth the trip.
We followed up the awards with going to the final recommendation from DivaQ, Stroud’s fried chicken. I cannot wait to go back to Kansas City, just to have that.
There are too many people to thank really. Thank you to my family and friends. Thank you to our Kickstarter supporters who helped us with the trailer. Thank you to Neil Pappalardo for coming out and helping. Thank you to Chix Swine and Bovine, Blue Bloods, Checkered Pig for the hospitality. Thanks to Rob at Q39 for the ride home. Thanks to Redneck Scientific for making us a part of their family for a few days. We hope to return the favor soon. Thank you to the people who called with encouragement. Thank you to DivaQ for the recommendations for food, and for the encouragement as well.
Thank you to our sponsors, first and foremost, Dizzy Pig and Chris Cappell. None of this would be possible without you guys. Thank you so much to BBQ Guru and Hav’n a BBQ for all of your support. And thank you to the Wine’ing Butcher for some great meat products.
But most of all, thank you to my best friend Leigh Anne, and my wife Kim. They are the rocks. They are the reason that we’re successful. And I couldn’t do it without them.
In Galax, Virginia, the big trophies are musical instruments. They give out customized guitars, mandolins, and fiddles. The awards table was making a couple of pickers like Luke and Leigh Anne drool. Smoke on the Mountain has been holding their competition in the Virginia highlands for 10 years. For the first eight of those years, it was a Memphis BBQ Network event. Last year, they made it a dual-sanctioned event by adding a KCBS competition.
That Memphis BBQ Network thingie . . . that’s a whole other kettle of fish. Competitors not only create blind boxes for judges for pork shoulder, pork ribs, and whole hog, but there are multiple on-site judging sessions as well. For each meat a team turns in, they get three on-site judging visits. Teams have to discuss their cooking process, show off their cooking equipment, and serve the judges. It is a full-fledged pro-duck-shun!!! When you add that in to the standard KCBS competition cook, things get a little wonky. For example, KCBS chicken turn-in was scheduled for 9:25. Brisket wasn’t due until 2:25 p.m.. Cook schedules had to be adjusted, and heaven help those teams who took the bull by the horns and competed in Memphis and KCBS!
Luke and Kim rolled into Galax late on Thursday evening, parking the Old Virginia Creeper next to fellow Dizzy Pig team (and Memphis competitor) Serial Grillers (“Wanted in every state!”). After getting the trailer situated, they turned in for an early evening. Leigh Anne showed up on Friday afternoon, and everyone dug in for meat prep and general set-up. After a deep-fried dinner from the event food court (fried gator, fried frogs legs, fried green tomatoes, and fried pickles), we started the fires and got ready.
At multiple times over the weekend, the team had to check their calendars. After all, cooking in July usually means copious consumption of Gatorade to combat dehydration under an unrelenting sun and downright hostile humidity. Instead, there were sweatshirts, long-pants, and arguments over who got to use the Snuggie as the mercury struggled to stay above 65 degrees. And of course, since we were cooking, there was rain — an inconsistent dripping with occasional sightings of a distant sun.
The cook itself felt great! The extra time between turn-ins started off feeling like a luxury, but it made for a damn long day. Our clean-up and tear down process got boiled down to a science. The Creeper was all packed up and ready to roll in just over an hour after brisket turn-in — that’s a world record, dear readers!!! The team retired to the local Hampton Inn to shower and prepare for awards at 7 p.m.
After listening to two local high school boys flail out a version of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” on the respective grand champion awards (banjo for MBN and guitar for KCBS), it was time to get down to business. KCBS awards were first, and we were proud to get three calls — 8th in ribs, 7th in pork, and 3rd in brisket. However, the score sheet showed Old Virginia Smoke its very first DAL (Dead Ass Last) — 30th place in chicken.
It happens. It hurt like hell, but it happens to all of us. Over Mason jars of ‘shine and bottles of cold beer, our friends and fellow competitors have told us war stories about that dreaded ranking. Sometimes it’s how the numbers just add up . . . especially when the numbers are small. We took some risks with our chicken here, and there are no regrets — only opportunities and lessons learned. Moving on . . .
Dave, David, and Richard over at Serial Grillers were amazing neighbors. We hope to find another dual event so we can all hang out again. Much love to the other folks in our little corner of the Virginia mountains — Grillin’Thyme, Cammo’s BBQ, and Contagious Q. Congrats to our ol’ buddy Rock at Rock’s Money Pit on the RGC and Boar’s Night Out on the GC. Victory Lane BBQ — you’re welcome for the butter that you used to beat us in brisket. In hindsight, we should have let you pay us for it. To our new buddy Phil, thanks for all the help cleaning up on Saturday; drive safe back to Cajun country. As always, thank you to Dizzy Pig, BBQ Guru, and our Kickstarter supporters for their continued sponsorship.
As a final note, if you can ever attend a competition where those boys from The Shed BBQ present whole hog, you owe it to yourself to check it out. It is . . . we don’t have the words. Running pig. Pink pinstripe suits. Cooking in a woody wagon. Just . . . holy smokes.
Next — the Southern Maryland Brew & BBQ Music Festival in Leonardtown, MD on August 1-2, 2014.