This weekend, Degüello BBQ competed in the inaugural Sam’s Club National BBQ Regional Final in Laurel, MD. This was easily the biggest competition in the short history of our team, so we came into Laurel with the intention of cooking strong like we’d done all summer. Unfortunately, we didn’t deliver when it counted. With 30 teams competing, we finished 20th in chicken, 11th in ribs, 27th in pork, 11th in brisket and 17th overall. With the top nine teams advancing to the National Finals in Bentonville, AR, this was the end of the road for us in this year’s Sam’s Club Series. Huge congrats to 3Eyz BBQ for taking the Grand Championship. Here’s the contest rundown:
Chicken: 20th out of 30 (157.7142)
Not the worst chicken we’ve turned in, but not that bad (or so I thought). Honestly, I was much more worried about our chicken two weeks ago in Chesapeake. The pieces I tasted had nice skin and good tenderness. But with a Regional Final field, pretty good isn’t going to make it very far.
Ribs: 11th out of 30 (160.5714)
Our usual ribs. I felt they were better than Chesapeake, and they did score a little better. Again, though, you’ve got to step it up when the field is this strong. I had good temp control on the WSM this time, which was a welcome change. I used Kingsford Competition Briquettes, and in my experience they burn a little hotter than most non-lump charcoal. So I think that may have helped.
Pork: 27th out of 30 (152.5714)
Two weeks ago, I said “And just as quickly as pork had apparently fallen off the table, we hit big again.” And this weekend? Well, after this weekend’s result, I do not know what to think. It’s days like this that almost make me nostalgic for this early season mid-pack pork finishes. Almost.
Brisket: 11th out of 25 (157.1426)
Second consecutive 11th place brisket finish. This one hurt more, though,as I was more pleased with this entry. Based on the score, the judges seemed to like it more as well. But even more so than Chesapeake, there were a lot of strong brisket cooks in the field. Our raw score today would’ve been top five two weeks ago, but this was a different day, different field and different judges so it’s not really a valid comparison. A good solid entry that was bested by superior competition.
This was a very disappointing result. We failed to measure up to strong competition, and it hurt. But the responsibility for this outcome resides solely with us. The one thing I will NEVER pin bad results on is judging. Although I do think different groups of judges have different preferences, that’s out of our control. What IS in our control is cooking consistently good entries that please the widest number of palates. When we do that, we’re successful. When we don’t, a short ride home from Laurel seems a lot longer.
So now we move on to the last two competitions of the year. Next up is Smoketoberfest BBQ Challenge in Chambersburg PA on October 14-15. And after that. it’s on to the our final, and biggest ever, competition. Degüello BBQ was fortunate enough to win the Virginia draw for the Jack Daniel’s World Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg TN on October 21-22. We are super excited to be going to one of the two or three biggest events in BBQ in our second year of competition. A good showing at the Jack would be a nice finish to the season!