Saturday, May 5, 2012

An Old Flame

In 2010 Lakeside Smokers headed out to the Smoke in The Valley BBQ Competition in Green Lane, Pennsylvania. This was on the heels of a great 2009 season. We had a fantastic time at this comp, but the judges hated our food...really, really hated our food. It hurt. The year before we were dialed in. We were cooking good, developed a great system, and, of course, getting a little lucky. (Always important with competition BBQ). Our last comp before Green Lane was the 2009 Jack. We took 3rd in brisket and 7th overall; a nice finish to a great season. Over the 2009-2010 offseason we rested on our laurels. I remember packing for Green Lane that year: As I emptied out our trailer to take inventory I recall that there was hay everywhere. Tennessee hay, to be specific. It dawned on me that I had not even lit my smoker once since October of 2009; it was now May of 2010...6 months. 2010 was a rough year for us. Over the 2010-2011 offseason we did a lot of practice. Yeah, a lot...

We skipped Green lane in 2011. I kept on saying that the judges there hated our food, so why go back and get our asses kicked again. It was a decision that I always regretted. We had fun there in 2010, the people that run that comp are great, and maybe, just maybe, the judges hated our food because it sucked. I dusted off the notes from that comp, looked at the pictures of our turn-in boxes and started to understand why we didn't do so well in Green Lane. It was us, not them. It was kind of like when you break up with someone and say 'it's not you, it's me.' Well, in 2010 it was all me. This year I would like to rekindle that flame with Green Lane, Pennsylvania. So we're crawling back to them next weekend.

This year, much like 2010, Lakeside Smokers are on the heels of a great season. Last year was the best season we've ever had. Although I know we will never even come close to having another season like that again. I am not resting on my laurels this year. During the off season we practiced, we experimented, and we talked at length (nauseating at times) about BBQ. I think if I mention 'our chicken timeline' to Kris one more time she might divorce me. I'm also heading into Green Lane this year with a different state of mind. I'm calling it: an expensive practice. The first full BBQ comp of the season is always tough. You need to shake off the rust. You can practice in your driveway, with all the comforts of your home, everyday of the year. But, nothing, nothing, is like an actual comp; it can not be duplicated. So, we're headed to Green Lane for a little more practice and we're just hoping not to embarrass ourselves again. And if we do tank again this year, so what. I just can't wait to get back out there. I can't wait for the BBQ season to start up again. I can't wait to meet up with some old friends, drink beers, and rekindle that flame.