The Shake, Rattle & Smoke event, in Azusa, was our first competition ever, and to say that we were a bit nervous going into it would be an understatement. Not only had we never competed before, we had never even seen a barbecue competition! So, with great anticipation, Kurt and I gathered up my two cookers, a Black Diamond and a Weber Smokey Mountain, and headed off to whatever fate awaited us.
It wasn’t long after we arrived at the cooking site that we came to the realization that this was going to be an even better experience than we could have imagined! Those of you who have never been to a cook-off before (and by the way, you need to try it sometime) would be amazed at how much camaraderie there is at these events! Here were two guys whom no one knew, yet folks actually took an interest in us and made us feel welcome. Having been a member of two previous organizations, both of which had nothing to do with barbecue, and both of which had their little “clicks” (reason I no longer belong), it was great to feel that we were welcome here.
Since we had no real idea as to what we were getting into, we decided to only enter two categories: chicken and the backyard category, which was tri-tip. Well, if there was any doubt that these folks weren’t genuine, it was removed when Kurt and I were called to the stage to accept a 1st place trophy in tri-tip! The cheers from the cheering section we had brought with us, Grant (now a team member) and his wife Jeni, were drowned out by the cheers we received from our newfound friends! It was truly a testament to the quality of these folks.
While it would have been easy for these people to have shunned us for intruding on “their” sport, that was not the case. We spent that Saturday evening visiting with other teams, being congratulated by many, and just enjoying our new friends. We had all been brought together by the love of barbecue, we all respected each other’s talents, and we all enjoyed the success each other achieved!