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Feats of Smoke (6)

One thing not shared among cooks is seasoning and sauce formulas.

On this detail, the cooks are tight-lipped. In his eighth year of competitive cooking, David Hintz is a self-described foodie and, unlike some of his neophyte counterparts, takes great pride in his homemade sauce.

“I try to create a flavor profile,” says David. He and his wife, Melissa, are the heart and soul of Pork County BBQ from Lambs Grove.

Using various homemade rubs, seasonings, and sauces tailored to the type of meat he is cooking, David attempts to achieve a blend that will trigger all the right taste sensors on the judges’ tongues.

He says he’s careful not to “oversauce,” wanting only to enhance the taste of perfectly smoked meat.

With judging about an hour away, David spends the remainder of the morning tending the cooker containing ribs, pork, and brisket and fusses with his chicken on another grill. He mists the meat with a spray bottle filled with his own special glaze and moves some of it to warming trays.

Melissa, meanwhile, makes final preparations in the trailer, gently placing chopped fresh parsley into the four Styrofoam clamshell containers that KCBS rep Miller issued earlier.

Minutes before the chicken turn-in, most cooks disappear inside their trailers or get to work at secluded tables in their pits.

The lively pit scene goes quiet as each cook concentrates on saucing and boxing chicken thighs for the first turn-in.

Tick Tock

The big LCD digits on the clock inside Pork County BBQ’s trailer shift: 1:01 p.m.

Having already garnished, boxed, and submitted chicken and ribs, David and Melissa have precisely four minutes left before they miss the pork shoulder turn-in. They have been saucing and slicing meat for the last hour, engrossed in perfecting the entry that will meet the judging table.

(Read more about Feats of Smoke)

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