By Allen Shaw, Fort Wainwright PAOJuly 26, 2013
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - The Alaska State Barbeque Association hosted its 9th annual state championships Saturday and Sunday at Pioneer Park in Fairbanks, with teams from around Alaska bringing their best seasonings, sauces and savvy. Seven teams comprised of Soldiers, Family members, DoD civilians and retirees finished in the top 15 overall, and many of those teams did extremely well in their respective categories.
Twenty-two competition barbeque teams rolled onto the park grounds July 19 staking claim on a patch of land to pitch tents, park trailers and unload a plethora of grills, smokers and camp stoves to prepare their best dishes for more than 36 judges over the two-day period. Once everyone was in place, the event coordinator and head judge inspected the proteins [meats], which must be untouched before the contest begins, meaning the cooks are not allowed to season, sauce, inject, trim fat or prepare the meat in any way. Once the inspection was complete, the competition began.
"It's like a mini Woodstock with meat," said David Pruhs, founder and president of the association. "People who enjoy the same interests come together for a good time and the fragrance of charcoal and hardwood fill the air." Propane or gas cookers are not allowed in a barbeque association-sanctioned event.
Saturday, the competitors vied for top honors in seafood, steak and dessert. "The seafood competition is judged differently than the rest," Pruhs said. "This is where the teams have an opportunity to wine and dine the judges, and judging in the seafood category is a coveted position." The judging panel is usually consists of experienced, certified culinary experts, local dignitaries, celebrities and representatives of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
The group was escorted to special dining areas prepared by the teams and adorned with unique decorations, place settings, menu cards and a beverage to compliment the meal. Team Turnin' and Burnin', BBQ, Army veteran and DoD civilian Jeff Deckard and wife Shelly, claimed the top spot with their special mango-crusted halibut, fresh asparagus and mango margaritas. "We caught the fish a week ago in Valdez and purchased the lime, pepper salt [that lined the rims of each glass] in Mexico," Deckard said. The Turnin' and Burnin' team also won the ribs and category, placed second in steak, fifth in dessert and sauce, and fifth overall among the competitors. The top five finishers in each category took home cash and prizes.
Another top finisher was active duty Soldier 1st Lt. Ryan Findley, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, of Findley's BBQ, and his wife Karen, who competed by herself, going head-to-head against her husband as Outlaw Barbecue. Findley's BBQ placed second in sauce and fourth in chicken, while Outlaw took third in brisket, third in ribs and fifth in sauce. Findley BBQ was eighth overall and Outlaw claimed the seventh spot.
Soldier Capt. Anthony Minderman, 1-25th, and wife Gina of Pitbull BBQ finished ninth overall, with fourth in dessert, fifth in steak, fourth in the seafood category, sixth in pork and seventh in brisket.
Another Soldier, Capt. Aaron Weddle, Alaska Regional Flight Center, and wife Amy of A's Smokehouse competing in his first contest ever, finished second in the chicken category and third in pork.
Veteran barbeque guru and DoD civilian Dan Gilson of 3 Dogs BBQ finished fifth in ribs and fifth in brisket, while Air Force retiree Joe Ziegler of Z's Smokehouse, who also catered the chaplain's picnic on post July 19, finished fourth in pork, fifth in chicken and sixth in ribs, giving him the fourth spot overall in the competition.
The repeat Grand Champion from 2012 was Troy Vincent of Bear Naked BBQ out of Anchorage and the Reserve Grand Champion was first time solo competitors Jack and Marney Osborn of Jack's Smokin' BBQ here in Fairbanks.
For more photos and all of the results, visit www.alaskabbq.org.
The next competition is the Fair BBQ scheduled for Aug. 3 at the Tanana Valley Fairgrounds and Pruhs said, "This event is open to anyone who can cook a piece of meat on a grill." The categories will be chicken, ribs and salmon, along with a contest to see who can produce the best burger in the state. Information on the event is also posted on the Alaska BBQ Association website.