In typical Lakeside fashion we pulled onto the contest site about a day early. I realize that a full day ahead of schedule for a grilling competition might be an overkill, but we enjoyed our free time in Norwich, CT. And when I see teams pulling in at 9AM rushing around to set up their sites, I'm happy with my decision. On Friday afternoon we were greeted by our friends and organizers Ted and Sheila Lorson. We hung out for a little while and talked in anticipation about the upcoming event. After some time of catching up we dropped off our trailer and found our way to the hotel. It was a short 5 minute drive from the contest site and made for a perfect 'jump off' spot for the entire weekend. After we checked in Kris and I quickly found the nearest bar and enjoyed a few pints. Later that night, more drinks, and a fun evening with the Lorsons, the Mitchells, and Kathleen and Cristiaan. The food wasn't good, but the company was great!
The weather forecast threatened for showers on Saturday. Rain on the circuit is not that big of a deal. Don't get me wrong, I'd much rather have nice weather. But rain is part of this hobby, you just need to deal with it. The worst part about wet weather is setting up in it, or breaking down in it. So, the last thing I wanted to do was set up our site during a rainstorm. So I left my hotel room at 4:30AM found some coffee and made my way to Dodd Stadium to set up our site. I found out that I can set up in 34 minutes. Not bad considering it was still dark out. By 6AM the Lorsons were onsite doing meat inspections, teams were arriving, and the rain was holding off.
The categories for this one day grilling competition were: Chef's Choice, Chicken, Sausage, and Pork. With some last minute tweaking of the sausage category we were good to go. (By last minute I mean the week before.) All the prep was getting done and the cook was going good. But by the last turn-in the clouds were rolling in...here it comes. They said 'a few showers' but they lied. At 1:40 the sky opened up and torrential rain, along with thunder and lightning was upon us. But as quick as it came, it was gone. If you're gonna have rain at a comp, I'll take it like this anytime! The clouds gave way to sun and there was a slight humidity to the air. I think that made the cold Harpoon IPA's extra good that day. Summer was coming and I could taste it.
Once again Kris cooked the Chef's Choice category, and once again she took first place with it. That's her third 1st place with that dish! We also placed 2nd in the Pork category, and 5th place in both Chicken and Sausage. That was good enough for us to get Reserve Grand Champions for the overall. We were beat out by our friends Transformer BBQ. Congrats on the Grand, guys! Brendan is now the Abe Froman of New England.
The event itself was great! There were food and craft vendors, a People's Choice chicken wing contest, and despite the rain, the public came out to support the event. It successfully raised money for the Rotary Club of Norwich. Sheila and her team did an outstanding job and covered all the bases. All the right things were done to ensure that this event will happen again next year, and it will be bigger and even better. Great job.
We finished off Saturday with pizza, salad, and Prosecco. It was a nice way to end the day. The next morning Kris and I relaxed at the hotel, poolside. We sat in the hot tub and inevitably talked about our next event. That seems to be the cycle with competition cooking. You're either at an event, getting ready for an event, or talking about an event. It's a healthy addiction that I'm completely comfortable with.