It definitely could have been a lot worse. There were no injuries in either vehicle and the parts are ordered and repairs are happening. There was a time when we thought our entire season would be up in the air, and are really relieved to be getting back on track.
But Smoke Freaks aren't going to let a fender bender get us down. So when we're not competing, we're spreading the Gospel of Freak. Earlier this week we had the honor of presenting at the "Smoking with Wood" event put on by the Illinois BBQ Alliance. We did a demonstration on our Ugly Drum Smokers to teach the finer points of starting the fire, selecting smoke wood and pairings to impart different smoke flavors on whatever you're cooking.
We love talking BBQ and this event was really special since we were able to talk directly to folks just getting started in their BBQ adventures. In our experience, it's easy to overthink equipment, supplies and wood selection -- we know this because we did just that. But over time, we experimented and had that pit running as often as possible to see what worked for us. So one of our messages was simply to start. Start anywhere. Just start experimenting and in time, you'll be the best pitmaster on your block.
Smoke Freaks are giving our first States-side BBQ seminar on Monday, 6/27.
The "Smoking with Wood" event is produced by the Illinois BBQ Alliance, a fantastic group of BBQ enthusiasts dedicated to their mission of "Do Good, Have Fun, Eat BBQ." "Smoking with Wood" has been carefully designed as a 101-level seminar teaching the finer points of starting and maintaining the perfect fire for smoking low and slow or hot and fast. And we'll be sharing tips about the types of smoking woods and how to use them to impart flavor and enhance anything you cook.
We think it's the perfect introduction to the Smoky Arts and Sciences and can't wait to share our experiences with you. We'll be cooking on "Fang" and "Ugly Betty," our trusty Pit Barrel Cookers. We LOVE this style of Ugly Drum Smokers: reliable, affordable and easy to transport anywhere you go! (They easily fit in the backseat of our Subaru Outback, just be sure to buckle them in first with the safety belt;)
Smoke Freaks are part of a lineup of BBQ experts including Weber Grills, The Backyard BBQ Store, Smokin' Deal BBQ and Duces Wild BBQ. And you don't want to miss Meathead from amazingribs.com signing copies of his new book, Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling.
Wood is at the center of the event, so we'll be smoking with wood from A1 Country Firewood in Chicago. A1 carries endless varieties of cooking woods, fruitwoods, hardwoods and all-natural 100% wood lump charcoal for grilling and smoking.
And A1 is the signature wood of Smoke Freaks because "it's the wood that makes it good!"
That's some serious wood, right?
Tickets include a first-class event experience from Sweet Baby Ray's Events, including a whole hog from #PorkMafia's Phil Wingo and Greg Gaardbo's "Rockin Rodizio" famous chicken.
Want to up your smokin' skills and be the star of your block? Want to Taste the Freakage?
Tickets still available at http://ow.ly/nPpq300ETTc
Our first BBQ competition of the year didn't go completely as planned, but that had nothing to do with the actual event itself. Keep reading for the "bad news," but first here's our recap from the event. There's good news, too!
We traveled about 160 miles on I-80 on our way to Kewanee, IL, the Hog Capital of the World. It was a lovely, uneventful drive with miles and miles of open road and big skies. We were putting the Wolf Wagon to the test for the first time and she was riding well. Smoke Freaks were thrilled to arrive in Kewanee!
Upon our arrival, the contest organizers checked us in and we got settled into our space. These guys put on one heck of a show. They thought of everything. Not only were water, power and space abundant, but there were signs everywhere of the smaller details that made for a great experience. (And we learned Dan's secret of the 7 Ps, but that's a blog post for another time... )
Our cook went well and we were pleased to take home 6th in Ribs, 10th in Brisket and 10th overall. Not bad for our first competition of the year. Oh, and if there were an award for most enthusiastic team, we would have won 1st place hands down. We are SMOKE FREAKS!!
So, here's where the bad news comes in...
We were headed out of town and got rear-ended. Fortunately, there were no injuries in either vehicle. We sustained damage to our beloved Wolf Wagon that puts our season in jeopardy but we know that objects can be replaced. It could have been much, much worse. We're so grateful for the well wishes from our friends and family.
So while we're working with the insurance company on the repairs, we are bringing out our Freak Force Activate powers to get us back on the road as quickly as possible. As our good friend George says, "you can't keep a Smoke Freak down."
That's right. Smoke Freaks will be back, better and stronger than ever. Taste the Freakage!
After a successful double test cook last weekend, we are ready for battle. Our war machine, The Wolf Wagon, is all spiffed up for the season, our smokers are running great and the team is ready to let our Smoke Freaks flag fly high in Kewanee.
We can't wait to see our fellow competitors and friends, some who we haven't seen since last fall. Sure, we're all competing with each other, but that doesn't mean a thing to the camaraderie and friendships we've made on the circuit. Awards may come and go, but our BBQ family remains.
Get ready Kewanee. The Freaks are headed your way and it's almost time to Taste The Freakage!
Man, it's a lot of work.
Our first competition of the year is next weekend, so we've been busy getting ready.
While we think we have a pretty good plan in place, we won't really know how everything works until we do a test cook. We do this to simulate a real competition environment and to work out the kinks and fine tune the Smoke Freaks operation.
The test cook: setting up our cook site as we would at a competition, managing our timing to hit all 4 turn-in times and presenting our best pieces to eager judges.
Even though the test cook will take place in the driveway, we won't be ducking in the house if it rains or using the dishwasher or enjoying any of those other "luxuries."
We always learn a ton from our test cooks so this weekend we're going to do a double. That's 2 full days of cooking with 2 days of turn-in to judges. Our first double-header competition EVER is in just 4 weeks at Lambeau Field so we really, really need this test cook.
Smoke Freaks will be rolling smoke soon!
Some describe professional BBQ competitions as "camping with a purpose." We agree, except the food is better.
Taste the Freakage!
And so it begins...
Smoke Freaks are gearing up for our first KCBS competition of the year. Sure, we've competed before and we've been BBQing all winter and spring. But this one is different.
You see, we're changing pretty much everything in 2016. Gone are the days of sleeping in a tent or in the car! From now on, we'll be lounging in The Wolf Wagon, our BBQ war machine.
Finally, we'll have better shelter, privacy and comfort for those long competition weekends! (Ms. Smoke Freak is pretty stoked to have a shower as well.)
But wait, there's more! We're going to be breaking in some new UDSs. This beauty is the newest edition to the Smoke Freaks family and we've named her "Redrum." She's a fine specimen made by our friends at Hunsaker Smokers.
Our first competition is in the Hog Capital of World - Kewanee, IL. We'll be loading up the Wolf Wagon with our smokers, equipment, supplies, meats, rubs and sauces and hitting the road on June 17th.
This isn't too far from the truth --
Smoke on and look for the Smoke Freaks in Kewanee, IL on 6/17 and 6/18!
Taste the Freakage!
Ann is Co-Founder and Pitmaster for Smoke Freaks. She loves being the Chicken cook and has fallen head over heels in love with P❤️rk.