brain4rent, Family, Food, photography, Uncategorized

BBQ Competition – Is it all in the name?

DSC_0884 Golden pigTwenty creatively named teams and enough wood smoke to ground low flying aircraft, if there were any in Methuen, MA, heralded the 5th Annual Amateur Applewood Smoke-Off BBQ competition at Mann’s Orchard this weekend, and if you, like we, thought that meant tasting some of the best the region has to offer, you’d be wrong. According to the host, the Health Dept forbade sampling because the conditions under which everything was cooked could not be controlled. So we know who the winners are, but because they are amateurs without restaurants or catering businesses, we will never know how good they are, and that seems like a wasted trip to the event, though I do love to shop at Mann’s for exceptional produce and apples and pies.

Mann Orchard did however offer their own BBQ plate for $15 a head. It was less than exceptional (Brisket was off tasting to me, as was the cole slaw, the chips were too salty, the pulled pork kind of dry. The beans and the ribs were adequate, and my apple pie was mostly crust but that was the luck of the draw.  The pink sprinkled pig-shaped cookies were good. Overall the food was meh; at least the music (regional favorites, The B Street Bombers) was exceptional.

So when you think you’re going to write a blog post about BBQ and find out you can’t taste it, what are you going to do? Mostly I got intrigued by the smoking apparatus, the characters/BBQers who stay overnight in tents and on lawn chairs to baby their ribs, and their wacky team names. Oh those team names…. If you enter BBQ competitions, the team name is almost as important as your secret recipe.

BBQ Blog pics Name collageHomework –   I’ve got a lot of creative readers, so what would your team name be? Artist’s feel free to supply your mock logo. Rad a few samples below.

Trio of Taste at the Fish Camp
Trio of Taste at the Fish Camp aka Grace, Graceless, and Disgrace, but which is which?

Methuen’s Own AKA Fish Camp – Mr. Oswalt had enough stories of smoking fish (hence the name), being a quasi CHiPs, and traveling the world in search of adventure and pursuit of opportunity to keep us in his booth for ages. We weren’t the only ones to gravitate to his booth.

Big Bag Wolf Cleans Grill with Flame Thrower
Big Bag Wolf Cleans Grill with Flame Thrower

The Big Bad Wolf team cleaned its grill with what seemed like a flame thrower that would certainly take out the houses of straw, sticks, and possibly convert the brick house into a supplemental grill without any of the germ-spreading huffing and puffing.

Other teams had names like Oinkstar,  U Smokin’, Granny’s Gang BBQ (mentor to Young Gunz BBQ), Meat and Three BBQ, The Smokin D’s, Two Jerks BBQ, Smoke ‘Em if You Got Em, Stump Chunks BBQ, and Smoke Showing BBQ.

Enrico Pasquale (L) of "Young Gunz BBQ" w/ Josh Cathcart
Enrico Pasquale (L) of “Young Gunz BBQ” w/ Josh Cathcart

One team really caught my attention. Young Gunz BBQ. Anyone who’s seen a teen sleep until noon knows that it is so exciting and unusual to find a young entrepreneur that you want to hold him up for example to teens everywhere and announce “This is what you are capable of doing, if you get out of bed!” And so it was when I met Enrico Pasquale. He’s 17 (the youngest competitor) and lives in Raynham, MA and he attends the tech high school studying culinary arts. He had some impressive looking apparatus at this his second competition. And he gave credit to his dad who split the $1000 cost with him when he demonstrated both a talent and a commitment to BBQ.  Enrico worked out a massive deal to get his setup that included 20 bags of charcoal, 60 qt stock pot, a locked cooler, as well as the smokers and some other stuff I didn’t understand.  He bought used to get the most for his money. His mentor from Granny’s Gang BBQ who befriended him at his first competition called it the deal of the century.

Enrico Pasquale waiting to hear winners announced
Enrico Pasquale waiting to hear winners announced

His first venture (he’s only been at this a year) into competitive BBQ earned him my respect because he landed closer to the bottom than the top of the heap, but he picked up a mentor and some tips and entered again.  He didn’t win this year either, and unfortunately the report cards given out after the event did not give a comparison so he could only see numbers with no reference points among winners or other competitors. But he’ll be back. And, that folks is the difference between winners and losers. Winners learn and grow from adversity.

Another quality that will take this man far is his insistence on giving credit where due. He requested that his BBQ partner Josh Cathcart be both identified and included in a photo. Cathcart doesn’t create the recipes or cook the meats, but he does spend long hours tending the charcoal, an essential task.  Pasquale also credited his parents for their support, encouragement and for driving the trailer toting his BBQ equipment to events.

Young Gunz BBQ Brisket
Young Gunz BBQ Brisket

After seeing all the meat he prepared for each of the four categories (remember I wasn’t allowed to sample), I asked the obvious question “What’s your favorite vegetable?” He responded “corn on the cob” which just so happens to be the perfect accompaniment of BBQ.

So if you want to remember a name from this weekend, remember this one, Enrico Pasquale. I am sure we will be hearing much more from this young man. I know I’d go to the first BBQ restaurant he opens, and I haven’t even tried his food yet.

 ©2013 Alison Colby-Campbell

Overall Champion Willis & Earls BBQ
Overall Champion Willis & Earls BBQ


5th Annual Amateur Applewood Smoke-Off

Beef Brisket

#1 Meat and Three, #2 Big Bad Wolf


#1 The Smokin’ D’s, #2 Meat and Three

 Pork (mostly pulled)

#1 The Smokin’ D’s, #2 Willis and Earls


#1 Willis and Earls, #2 Meat and Three


#1 Willis and Earls, #2 The Smokin D’s

2nd Place Overall - The Well-Seasoned Team The Smokin' D's
2nd Place Overall – The Well-Seasoned Team             The Smokin’ D’s

10 thoughts on “BBQ Competition – Is it all in the name?”

  1. Factual and entertaining blog first time visitor ….Well met Allison….. Come back and see us at “Fish Camp” next year….. we’ll welcome you behind the scenes…. you’ll become “friends and family” so the nasty health inspectors paranoia will be null and void.

    In Fishcamp we trust,
    P.S. would really like to see the pic of the boys…….. “Grace, Graceless and Disgrace. Am sure that they would also enjoy that shot


  2. Welcome to my blog, Jeff. So glad we got to meet you. Email me in care of this blog, and I will send your pic….it came out a little dark, but I can still make you all out. feel free to share the blog to your hearts content.


  3. I remember this day this contest meant a lot to me I read this time to time to remember where I started and how much I have grown from that day. now the team name has changed to JR Big and Little Barbecue I was orginal Young Gunz bbq. that name still means a lot to me but I have gotten older and it was time for a new name

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for writing this. I received a flyer in the mail advertising this yrs BBQ event at Mann Orchards (which, strangely enough, I have never heard of before even tho I live very nearby to Manns). Anyway, I love BBQ but it’s pretty non-existent in these parts, so I was very excited at the thought of attending this event and getting to try the BBQ. I was searching online for more info (price of admission, the meals, etc) and could not find anything… and then I came across your blog. I’m very disappointed to read what the actual event entails (not getting to sample the food), but I’m so happy you wrote about it because now I will not be wasting my time going. Thanks for the review.


    1. My review was written a few years ago so I am sure many things have changes and it’s probably even better. Sure does smell great.
      On the other hand I met Willie Sherrer who does BBQ under the name of Sho Nuf BBQ and he has a food truck at Sho Nuf!!! BBQ is proud to announce that we are opening a spot at Methuen Liquors/Convenience Store . 50 Lawrence Street Methuen Ma. 11a-7p. His stuff is out of this world good. I had him cater a party after trying his truck at the Topsfield Fair one year. Definitely check him out (PS my husband and step kids are from the South and all loved it)


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