A week off from the American Freakage Tour 2017 has given me lots of time to reflect on our season after the 6 competition mark. As we prepare for a 1,000 mile road trip this weekend, Smoke Freaks have seen new achievements and even came close to BBQ glory… and we’ve been plenty disappointed.
Sometimes it comes from within. Like that nagging realization of not being on top of your game, when your focus was off and you knew you blew it. Yeah, that stinks. And other times, it’s a result of cranking out one of your best cooks ever, only for the judges to have other ideas.
The data illustrates that Smoke Freaks have clearly had more ups and downs this year than we did in our first season, despite the additional competition experience we’ve gained. I think we’re competing at a higher level this year, and when our scores tank, we’re sometimes left scratching our heads.
I’ve come to believe that the best and most consistent measure of success in competition BBQ is your own assessment of your performance. I think you return from the day’s last turn in with a very clear sense of how you did, if you’re brutally honest with yourself -- at least we do. In two recent competitions, I summed it up like this, “I don’t care what happens at awards, I’m proud of this cook and wouldn’t change a thing.”
Now in one of those competitions, we walked away as Reserve Grand Champions in a field of 59. And in the other, we got totally, and I mean totally smoked. So what gives? In the long run, I think a lot comes down to skill. But in the short term, there’s a whole lot of luck involved.
Sometimes, all you get is the personal satisfaction of knowing it was a cook to be proud of. Even if it was an amazing cook, the kind where everything comes together splendidly… that might be all you get. It doesn’t matter how hard you tried or how much money you spent or how many miles you drove to get there. Sometimes, that’s all you get.
And then sometimes, that makes you even more determined to hit the jackpot like we’re planning to do up at the Mankato Cookoff on June 10th and 11th. It’s our first competition in Minnesota so we’re excited to deliver the Freakage!
Ann is Co-Founder and Pitmaster for Smoke Freaks. She loves being the Head Cook and and has fallen head over heels in love with Pork.