Friday, November 4, 2011

Corn Fed Cookin'

My friend Joe Beland and I are putting on a Competition BBQ class in January. We are setting it up to be an amazing time for all those involved. Please see the formal announcement below and feel free to sign up by clicking on the link to the application. Although I wouldn't take your time deciding as I have a feeling it is going to fill up fast!

Corn Fed Cookin’
with TippyCanoe BBQ and Big T’z Too

The 2011 American Royal Invitational and Inaugural Sam’s Club National Champion Joe Beland of TippyCanoe BBQ Crew and two-time Iowa Team of the Year Champion, RyanNewstrom of Big T’z Q Cru are teaming up to provide a one of a kind learning experience. Two of the hottest new-comers on the BBQ circuit; in just three years of competing they have combined to earn 20 Grand Championships and hundreds ofcategory and overall top 10 awards. Now you get the opportunity to experience and learn the secrets of their success.

This two-day class will include every detail that has helped Joe and Ryan to be successful, including procurement, preparation, cooking, and presentation. Both will provide complete instructions regarding all four of their contest meats, while each will provide hands-on demonstrations of their best two categories—Joe will do pork and ribs, and Ryan will demonstrate chicken and brisket. Whether you are a beginner, a serious backyarder, or seasoned contest veteran, you will be able to see firsthand what each of them does at a contest from start to finish, and help take your BBQ to the next level.

The class will be held in St. Ansgar, Iowa on January 20-21. It will begin Friday afternoon, and following the timeline of a real contest, go well in to the evening. The class will continue early Saturday morning and continue through regular turn-in times and wrap up with any more questions students may have. All meals and refreshments during the class will be provided and are all inclusive. Further details regarding class schedule and area accommodations will be provided with the enrollment packet.

The enrollment fee is $650 and class space is limited, so get your application in as soon as possible to reserve your spot. Spouses may attend for an additional $250. The spouse fee does not extend to other family members or teammates. Recording devices
are not allowed.

If you are interested in attending, please fill out the attached application. Once you are ready to send it in, or if you have further questions, please email Joe and Ryan at to receive details on payment and reserve your spot. Or, if you would prefer to call, the phone number is (641)220-4483.

Registration Form

Friday, May 7, 2010

The past three weeks have featured Big T’z Q Cru once again traveling south of the border for two contests. The first one was the weekend of April 16-17 at the Capital City Cook-off in Jefferson City Missouri. This contest feature almost 70 of some of the best cooks the state from where Kansas City BBQ originated. Bruce Ring, a fellow competitor from “Let’s Kick Some Ash” cooking team was the organizer of this great event and did a fantastic job of accommodating the cooks. I was unsure where to fill up the water tank in the camper and before I knew it someone was there with a tank of water and gas-powered pump and was filling up my tank for me. What service! Additionally, ice was free all weekend, and if you don’t know ice at a BBQ comp can sometimes become a precious commodity—we have more than once had to send a teammate all over town trying to locate ice to refill our coolers.

After an uneventful night of cooking, I was feeling good, but I must be honest and say that after turn-ins I was not happy with how everything went. In hindsight I was more frustrated with the process, rather than the product, things just didn’t “feel” right. Those feelings quickly went away when we placed 5th overall, with calls for 6th place in chicken and 10th place in pork. We also got 11th place in brisket. This contest paid out to the top 5 overall, so it was nice to get a sizable chunk of the purse for our efforts

Needless to say we had a great time. It was a beautiful weekend with great weather. We were also placed next to our friends Kim and Andy Groneman from Smoke on Wheels, and our friends from TippyCanoe BBQ Crew made the trip down from Iowa as well, which added to the experience. Huge congrats to TippyCanoe for getting 3 real good calls and placing 3rd overall, our friends from Iowa’s Smokey D’s for Reserve, and Great Grills of Fire for winning their first Grand Championship of the year in their hometown! It also wasn’t bad having 3 Iowa teams in the top 5 in the capital city of Missouri either. ;-)

The second contest was the Apple Blossom BBQ in St. Joseph, Missouri. The contest was help in a beautiful park located downtown. What was also cool about this contest was that the Blue Angels were in town and flying overhead all weekend.

We weren’t as fortunate with the weather this weekend, as it rained off and on for most of the contest. We still managed to have a great potluck, put on by our friends Steph from and Kim and Andy Groneman from Smoke on Wheels. This potluck’s theme was “down-home” cooking, and it seemed everyone did their best to make a ton of some really great food. I couldn’t help myself but eat the most I have ever eaten at a contest to date. I swear after I was done I went in to a food coma for the next couple of hours.

This was the first contest in which Sonya could not attend, due to her having her baby shower on Sunday. My Mom and father-in-law did make it down and between the three of us we did our best to fill the big shoes Sonya has created in her role on the team, namely garnishing turn-in boxes and the turn-in procedure. Between the three of us we managed to put the boxes together closely resembling the way she does it in just under 4 hours. Sonya usually takes less than half that time.

The three of us also managed to do turn-ins without any disasters as well. After everything was turned-in and judging was over we ended up at 15th overall out of 58 teams with a call for 4th place in chicken. It wasn’t our best contest, but it wasn’t our worst ever. Huge congrats to our Jeff and Tammy Stith for Big Creek BBQ for Reserve Grand Champion and Randy Robinett from R Butts R Smokin’ Grand Champion! We had a great time and look forward to heading back there next year.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Pleasant Weekend in Pleasant Hill, MO

Our last competition was held in Pleasant Hill, Missouri on the Friday and Saturday of Easter weekend. You may be wondering where Pleasant Hill, MO is located. Well it is a smaller town just southeast of the Greater Kansas City area. While many may not know where this town is located, many of the best bbq'ers in the country do. This relatively small contest featured over 60 teams, many of whom are favorites at any competition they attend.

One of cool things about this contest is that it is a fundraiser for March of Dimes. It was nice to be a part of such a great cause. Another cool thing about this contest was the organizers. Jeff and Stu roll out the proverbial red carpet and go way out of their way to make teams comfortable. Due to the fact that I am a relative newbie when it comes to campers, I have absolutely no idea how to back the things up. This was one of the few times this year when Dr. Dan, my father-in-law, would be unable to pull the camper, so I asked for a pull-through spot. I get there hoping that at least someone I knew (and knew wouldn't make too much fun of me) was there to help back me in. Come to find out the guys had reserved a special spot just for me so I could easily pull-in with no problem. Crises averted. I know, I know, I need to learn to back, and I will with time, but I am a cook darn it and have other redeeming skills, unfortunately trailer backing isn't one of them.

Anyway, I got settled in all by myself, thanks to the organizers. Before I knew it the butts were on and it was off to The spot for the Friday night potluck. I had a great time meeting all sorts of new people, thanks to Kim Groneman from Smoke on wheels. So much so, that I I had to head back to our spot to get the briskets on before I was able to eat anything!

Dave Compton, one of my BBQ friends from Iowa, was down to Pleasant Hill to judge his 30th contest. This is significant as after thirty contests, judges are eligible to take the Master Judge's exam and become a Certified Master Judge. At 10:00 a bunch of guys from the BBQ Brethren had put together a little ceremony for Dave to celebrate his achievement. That was way cool. It was also an opportunity for me to get to know some of the people face to face on that great forum. While in that area, I also got invited over to The Pork Pullin' Plowboys site for a shot to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Todd Johns and his wife Audrey, which was also a special moment of the weekend.

Our cooking spot was next to a group of younger guys who were cooking their first contest. They also happened to be cooking on Weber Smokey Mountains, so I was up late talking to them, giving them pointers, and remembering when I was in their shoes not long ago.

The morning came very quickly and we managed to get everything in on time, but not without a few hiccups along the way. Overall we ended up 20th overall, which could have been better, but with the things we had to deal with along the way I was happy with. Huge congrats to our friends Andy and Kim Groneman from Smoke on Wheels for getting called for their first Grand Championship of 2010! They also received a perfect score for their chicken, which was out of this world! Way to go guys! We got a call for 7th place for our ribs, which in that field I was very very pleased with. We have also got a call in ribs in our past two contests, which is one less than we received in all twelve of our contests last year. It seems we have that on track.

Unfortunately, our pork and brisket were not well received. This was due to several factors, many of which I believe I have figured out and hopefully will have corrected by our next contest. On the other hand, to paraphrase a quote from one of my favorite movies, "Sometimes you eat the brisket, and sometimes, well, he eats you!"

This weekend we are back at it again cooking at the Capital City Cookoff in Jefferson City, MO. We will try to post results as soon as we get them, otherwise you are always welcome to stop by and say hello!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

North Little Rock

The weekend of March 20, Big T'z kicked-off their 2010 season at the USA Barbeque Championship in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Hailed as the World's Richest BBQ Contest in history, this championship featured an all-out slug match between the best barbeque cooks in the country.

To prepare for the 11 hour drive, Sonya, my Father-in-law, Dan, and I loaded up the camper and headed out at noon on Thursday and drove straight to Branson, Missouri to spend the night. This worked out well both for our timing and the fact that Dan had the opportunity to do some fishing on Lake Tanneycomo, something he does several times a year.

Half-way down we had an unexpected delay when the cupboard that holds our BBQ sauce came open and many of our glass jars of sweet and sticky sauce crashed all over the floors and walls of our camper. Four rolls of paper towels and two canisters of clorox wipes later, we were back on our way. From that experience I learned that one, we need extra catches for our cupboards, and two, BBQ sauce goes much better on a finely cooked pieces of meat than it does on floors, walls and shoes.

We arrived to our the contest a little behind schedule, finding most teams had already arrived. It was quite the experience trying to get the camper in our space--I thanked God Dan was there with his superior towing skills to help us get in to our spot.

Before we knew it the smoke was rolling from our site and pork and brisket were on. We got a spare moment to stop by the potluck organized my Steph from and hosted by Early Bird BBQ. We had a great time visiting with everyone there and eating some delicious food.

It was 11 before we were able to wander from our site. Unfortunately, due to the money involved with this contest there seemed to be little carousing going on. I found several of my friends' sites only to find they were in bed. I did however meet up with my friends from Tippy Canoe BBQ Crew, which was fun.

The morning quickly came and before I knew it everythng was in a box and off to the judges. Things went off mostly without a hitch, save for in the middle of pork turn-ins my razor sharp slicing knife fell of the cutting board and caught my finger on the way down, and it wasn't a paper cut either. Luckily, I had two medical professionals right with me to attend to my battle wounds. It was quite interesting saucing and putting pieces of pork in the box with my left hand while Dan worked diligently to stop the bleeding on my right.

Like the contest itself the awards ceremony was huge; we could barely see the stage from where we finally found a place to stand. As there were 230 teams competing, they called the top 40 places in every category. We were lucky enough to hear our names called for 11th place in chicken, and 22nd in ribs. I was really happy with the rib call as I used one of our new pellet cookers to cook them, plus in that field 22nd in my mind was awesome for what is historically our weakest category. While we didn't hear our name for pork or brisket, our overall scores were good enough for 17th overall. For our first competition of the season against the best of the best, we went away very pleased with the result.

The highlight of the weekend was seeing friends Rod and Sheri Gray from team Pellet Envy win the whole thing. They have a history of doing well at this contest, and their performance this year was only different due to the fact they did better than normal. Their overall score was 701, which if you understand trends in KCBS scoring you know that is just plain ridiculous. Additionally, they had close to a perfect score on their 1st place chicken and a perfect score on their pork. They didn't get first place pork only because two other teams also got perfect scores, which is also ridiculous. Huge congratulations and thanks to them for putting on a great show!

This coming weekend Big T'z is on the trail again. We are headed down to Pleasant Hill, Missouri to compete in Smokin' on Big Creek BBQ Championship. There will be many of our friends there yet again competing and helping to raise money for March of Dimes. We are looking forward to it!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Quick Update

I have been working hard for the past several weeks on a totally revamped, professional website. Like most things, it has taken longer than I originally planned to get finished, but hopefully it will be worth it in the end.

With the new website will come a new url. Look for us early next week at Thanks for all your support!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Banquet Season

The winter seems to be a good month to have banquets celebrating the past year in BBQ. Big T'z Q Cru was busy attending two of them: the KCBS Annual Banquet, and the Iowa BBQ Society Annual Banquet.

Earlier in the month was the KCBS Annual Banquet, held in Philadelphia. Sonya and I flew out there to enjoy the sights and foods of the City of Brotherly Love, and also to meet more of the people that are a part of this great organization.

This is also the time they give out awards for Team of the Year. For every contest a team attends, they receive points based on how well they placed in each category and overall. In addition they receive bonus points equal to the number of teams that competed in the contest (capped at 100). For instance, if a team wins first overall in a contest where there is 45 teams, they receive 250 for the first place finish as well as 45 bonus points, for a total of 295 points. 2nd place at the same contest receives 225 points, and so on. Each category: chicken, ribs, pork, and brisket are computed the same way.

At the end of the season they tally up all the points for only your top ten contests. The team with the highest overall score is crowned Team of the Year. This year just happened to be the year our mentor and friend, Rod Gray along with his wife Sheri were given this huge honor. There are over 4000 registered teams in KCBS, so I am sure that you can guess what an achievement it is to be ranked as the best of them.

At the awards ceremony we were surprised to find that they give awards to the top 20 teams in all categories. Before we got there we heard they gave awards to the top 25 overall and to the top 10 in each category. Considering we were 19th in the nation in brisket, we were trhilled to hear our name called at the banquet and walk up to receive our award. I think I had a "perma-smile" for at least twenty minutes after that moment. However, nothing topped being there to see Rod and Sheri receive their award for Team of the Year. They are great people and deserve every ounce of recognition they get. Way to go team Pellet Envy!

Another highlight of the evening was being invited to the Presidential Suite (The room of KCBS President, Mike Lake and his wife Teresa) after the awards banquet and celebrating with everyone there. It was there that we got to meet Carolyn Wells, who is the founder of KCBS. To me, that was an incredible honor. We also got to get our picture taken with the now famous Tuffy Stone of Cool Smoke. He is one of the pitmasters that was chosen to be on the inaugural season of TLC's "BBQ Pitmasters", and for good reason. First and foremost, he is an incredible cook. A classically-trained chef, he received the honor of KCBS Team of the Year in 2007. Second, he has a personality that goes for miles. We had the opportunity to spend some time with him and his wife earlier in the weekend and just had a delightful evening listening to all their stories!

Overall, it was a very memorable weekend. We met tons of people in the organization and had several great experiences. We look forward to the 25th Anniversary Banquet in Kansas City next year!

The second banquet was the Iowa BBQ Society Annual Banquet. Just like KCBS it is here that the Society gives out awards for Iowa Team of the Year. Unlike KCBS, the rankings are calculated differently.

At every KCBS contest the judges give each team's entry a score between 1 and 9 for each of three categories, Appearance, Taste, and Tenderness. The scores are tallied from each judge and aggregated to determine the winner. The overall winner of a contest is the team with the best cumulative score of all four categories.

The Iowa BBQ Society averages a team's best four contest scores from each category and overall. The team with the highest four contest category score wins the category, and the teams with the highest four contest overall score wins Team of the year. Of course only contests within the State of Iowa qualify and the team must be a member of the Iowa BBQ Society to be eligible.

This year we were fortunate enough receive the honor of Iowa Team of the Year. In addition, we were Team of the Year in Chicken, and Reserve Team of the Year in Pork and Brisket. For our award we received a signed certificate from the Governor, and monetary award.

In addition to the honor we received for Team of the Year, we were able to catch up with many of our Iowa BBQ friends for the first time in several months. We were also treated to one of the best banquet spreads I have ever had compliments of Iowa Smokey D's/Absolute Flavors Catering. There was an amazing variety of foods to suit everyone's palate. I found myself going back to the table several times to try different things and get more ham balls. Thanks to Shad Kirton, Darren Warth and company for that amazing meal!

It was a fantastic, albeit short, evening. We look forward to seeing everyone there on the BBQ trail this upcoming season!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Catching Up

First of all, I would like to apologize to everyone (I know there are at least a few readers out there) for the lengthy hiatus I have been on with this blog. This has been due to several factors. 1) Sonya and I moved in to our first home in late September 2)The last leg of the bbq season was extremely fun yet extremely tiring and 3) Sonya and I found out we are expecting our first child in June. :-) Okay 5) Laziness/forgetfulness. This year I have set my mind to do weekly updates, so please check back early and often. If I miss a week, feel free to contact me and give me grief about it.

Just to catch everyone up since our last post I will do a brief synopsis from my last post:

Right after the River City Roundup in Omaha we were off to Kansas City the next week to compete in our first American Royal Invitational/Open. For those of you who don't know, this is heralded as the "World Series of BBQ", and for good reason. We arrived Thursday and spent the next 4 days mixing in equal parts of play and cooking our butts off. Come Sunday afternoon, we could barely see straight we were so tired.

Here are some highlights of the experience:
1)Smack Talk back and forth with Mark Grieco from Four Men and a Pig (last year's Royal Open winner).
2)Becoming friends with the British BBQ Society team who came all the way from England to compete
3)Watching our friend Todd Johns from Pork Pullin' Plowboys win the Invitational
4)Watching our friends Bob and Don Denner from Boondoggle BBQ win their first Grand Championship at the American Royal Open
5)Celebrating with Bob and Don and the rest of the Iowa regional friends Sunday night

We heard our name called four times. We placed 10th in Chicken, 5th in Pork and 12th Overall at the Invitational (against 118 Grand Champions). We were 14th Overall at the Open (470+ teams). Additionally we were one of only a handful of teams to place in the top twenty overall at both the Invite and Open. For our first year, we were thrilled with those results.

Unfortunately, we did not get selected to go to the Jack Daniel's World Championship. Instead we took our new camper and headed to Chicagoland for the Libertyville Barn Burner BBQ to finish out our season. We ended up having one of the most successful events of 2009 finishing 1st in Chicken, 2nd in Ribs, 3rd in Pork, and 2nd in Brisket. We won Grand Champion by a margin in excess of 23 points. The long drive home was surprising short as we relished in a fantastic end to the 2009 season.

In the off season we have been busy breaking in our new cookers and getting comfortable using them. We have also been working on getting more consistent with our ribs. We are looking forward to seeing how/if they have improved as we head down to Central Kansas next weekend for the Kansas Winter Q in Great Bend. Hopefully we can pick up right where we left off in 2009!