It’s been nearly a year since our team competed. We started at the end of last season at the Smokin Down the Highway competition. It was a great time. We learned that barbecue competitions attract some of the best chefs and caterers in the business. We also found out there is a distinct Northwest Style to barbecue that’s uniquely different than what we’ve sampled in South Carolina, Texas, or Memphis. It’s the gold standard for judging and competing in our area. So this year we were ready! Friday, June 10th, the Smokehouse Barbecue Team rolled into Prosser, Washington in the heart of the Yakima Valley Wine Country to compete in the Bottles, Brews & BBQ event. The competition included 22 other teams, as well as a concurrent wine tasting event hosted by 14 local vintners.
A band played classic rock as our live soundtrack while we prepared to cook.
In order to compete, all contestants must enter in all four categories of barbecue:
1) Pulled Pork
Smokehouse Digital’s Team: Smokehouse Barbecue included two chefs and five assistants. Our chefs were Jason Lucey for the pulled pork and chicken, and Desia Graybill who did the brisket and ribs. Kim, Hazel and Jonah Lucey, Malana McFarlen and Beth rounded out the team.
Friday night, we set up our gear, had dinner, and had time to mingle with all the other competitors. They were friendly and eager to share off their toys and even their techniques. Many had smokers similar to ours, but most had upgraded them with cool modifications to enhance their cooks. We even met a few with custom built rigs they’d either welded themselves or commissioned. Some big enough to smoke an entire pig!
As we traded stories, we ran into one of the judges and picked his brain about what a good example of Northwest Barbecue really is. The answer: Balanced. That means not too vinegary, hot, or sweet, but a subtle balanced flavor.
Saturday was “Go Day”
The judges were set up in one of the winery buildings and entries were timed so we had to organize our cooking to meet the deadlines. Failure to turn in your entry within 5 minutes of the appointed time meant disqualification.
Needless to say the morning was busy as we finished the cooks, found the best pieces to turn into the judges, garnished the turn in boxes, and made it all look beautiful.
The weather was perfect! Clear blue skies with fluffy cumulus clouds and 70 degree temperatures kept us refreshed and good to go Saturday morning. As the temperature climbed in the afternoon, a nice breeze sprang up to keep us cool. After our last turn in at 1:00, we were free to walk around, enjoy sampling and check out some of the tasting rooms.
We hung out until 5:00 when they announced the winners. Our next door neighbor, Pitbull Barbecue won best barbecue overall and placed in every competition. Having sampled their pulled pork, I have to agree that their food was amazing!
Although Smokehouse Barbecue didn’t place, we did a little better than we did last year, and we enjoyed an amazing weekend of great food, great company, and fun. We look forward to doing it again next year!