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Feats of Smoke (5)

After a friendly shot of whiskey between contenders early Saturday morning — a tradition among Iowa pitmasters in the spirit of friendly competition — the barbeque crews get down to business.

Teams are willing to share just about anything: foil, utensils, garnish, and advice. According to first-time competitor R.J. Voss of Voss Grill and Chill from Ames, the affable attitude among cooks has been essential to his debut experience.

“I don’t know what I am doing,” he says with a laugh. “Really, I don’t. Thankfully these guys parked next to me are willing to show me the ropes.”

Voss was lucky enough to set up his pit next to Jeff Naslund and his Red Bandana BBQ crew from Galva. The competing neighbor tried to keep the newbie on track by sharing pointers and tips when he looked confused or frustrated, says Voss.

“It’s the friendships and quality of people that attract me to this,” says Mike Whitney of Big Mike’s BBQ, who was still somewhat surprised to even be at this day’s event. 

The previous afternoon, after loading up his team (consisting of his wife, Dalene, two kids, and a gray terrier), he was only a few minutes out of his home in Huxley when his smoker fell off the back of his RV.

After dragging the bent and twisted smoker off the road, he called fellow competitor David Hintz, who offered one his own smokers for use in the competition.

A few hours later, Mike’s fire is lit and his meat cooking. (Big Mike’s BBQ went on to place third overall with the borrowed smoker.)

(Read more about Feats of Smoke)

By the Rules

No. 12: Garnish is optional. If used, it is limited to chopped, sliced, shredded, or whole leaves of fresh green lettuce, curly parsley, flat-leaf parsley, and/or cilantro. Kale, endive, red-tipped  lettuce, lettuce cores, and other vegetation are prohibited. . . . 

KCBS 2012 Official Rules and Regulations

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