Ready ... set ... glow

BBQ team off to Washington for national contest

BBQ team off to Washington for national contest

June 24, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

The members of Close Encounter of the 3rd Swine, a team of area barbecuers that will compete in Safeway's National Capital Barbecue Battle this weekend in Washington, know the secret to winning is in how the meat comes off the bone.

The team includes workers at Blue Ridge Mountain Cookery Inc., a grill manufacturer at 130 Green St. in Waynesboro, and Chris Carter, a Frederick, Md., businessman and friend of Nick Turano, 55, owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Cookery.

The team members hope their specially designed grill will carry them to the Holy Grail of national barbecue contests, the 2003 Memphis in May to be held in Memphis, Tenn., next year.


Eric North, a Blue Ridge employee, built the smoker from Turano's design.

"You have to win in a regional contest like Washington to qualify for Memphis," Turano said.

Unique in Turano's design is an automatic steam system that keeps the meat moist while it's being cooked.

It takes up to 15 hours to cook a 15-pound beef brisket, said Eric Forrester, marketing director at Blue Ridge.

"You can press the meat when it's done and the juices flow out of it. Without the steam and moisture you'd be chomping on leather," he said.

Blue Ridge Mountain Cookery makes propane gas-fired grills, but gas is not permitted in barbecuing contests. It's wood or charcoal only, Forrester said.

The grill looks more like an old railroad steam engine than a cooking machine. It's 8 feet long, 5 feet high and its inside cooking area is 31/2 feet by 61/2 feet, Turano said.

A wood or charcoal fire is built in the fire box at one end of the device. Super-heated smoke moves through the cooking area in a circular motion around the chunks of meat, Forrester said.

Team members will have to stand by the grill all night in Washington to maintain cooking temperatures between 225 and 250 degrees.

Some 40 teams from around the country are competing, Forrester said.

"They close off Pennsylvania Avenue from 9th to 14th streets," he said. "They're expecting 100,000 people."

The Blue Ridge team will compete in the beef brisket, pork shoulder and sauce contests, he said.

"For us, it will be a lot of fun, but I'm learning that the barbecue industry can be fanatical," Forrester said. "At the contest, they test the meat before it's cooked to make sure it hasn't been doctored up, then they lock it up until the barbecuing starts."

He said the team is taking eight 15-pound beef briskets and five pork shoulders to the contest.

The judges are very particular, he said.

"The meat has to be done just right," he said. "The judges like to pull it right off the bone."

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