Ron Cates, President and Ceo of Cates and Company Creative, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, expanded his barbecue competition from Las Vegas to Laughlin this past week with a celebration called Smoke on the Water just outside Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort Hotel&Casino.
A few weeks earlier, Cates was hosting a barbecue competition in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay Competitors Mike and Lynn Jeffrey, owners of Montana-Bar BQ co.,served country singer Taylor Swift and her family at the Las Vegas event. According to Lynn, “The Swift family came back three times for our barbecue and they gave us an autographed picture signed by Taylor.”
Veteran Freddy Moss, retired from the U.S. Navy after 24 yrs of service, was at Smoke on the Water demonstrating his custom-made barbecues featuring a usable pool table on top of a barbecue pit. Freddy told us why he’s doing this, ” I spent most of my adult life traveling around the world in the Navy, now I want to travel around the USA with my barbecue. I want to have fun. I served my country, now I’m going to serve my barbecue.”
Freddy found a new niche in brisket and custom-made barbeque sales. Freddy and his crew drove from Missouri to participate selling barbecue and competing for huge cash prizes over the Veteran’s Day weekend in Laughlin,Nevada.
Another retired U.S. Veteran, Marty McMahon, was not cooking, he was selling spicy hot sauces. He said, “My new business is a one-stop shopping for pig gifts, barbecue supplies, and merchandise from jewelry to hot sauce and barbecue sauce.
Mike and Lynn Jeffrey who brought along their award-winning barbeque called “Death by Swine,.” made with pork wrapped in bacon plus some secret spices, will be competing in a world barbecue championship event in Holland in May 2013.When asked if they would shares some business success secrets they said,” Every year we add something new. This year, it’s going to be a desert we’re calling “Better than Sex.”
Two other products on the menu at montana Bar-BQ co. include “Son of an Oinker,” and “Mother Klucker” which is their chicken on a skewer offering.
Snider Bros.Meats, a fifth generation butcher business, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, was at Smoke on the Water for the competition only.While they were making a test rack of ribs we asked them to explain a little bit about the Smoke on the Water barbecue competition, ” In this competition you can enter the categories of chicken, ribs, pork, or brisket.,” said Will, .
Wills wife, Amy, said ,” I am, taking up barbeque competitions as my empty nestor hobby. In the last year we’ve already been in 9 competitions.Our fourth son leaves soon to serve our country so we’re proud to be here and look forward to times when the children will cook with us when they’re available.”
The Wilson family has decided to involve their adult children in the barbeque competitions whenever possible and their new six-month old French Bulldog, Mak, who was unphased by the smells of cooking barbeque will be their travel mascot.
From Will Wilson, of Snider Bros. Meats we learned that timing of all the meats is super critical because, “you want to turn them in at their peak-when they’re hot..” The barbecue is judged on appearance, taste, and tenderness.
The Smoke on the Water is a newer competition than many others held around the country and according to the Ron Cates, the event creator,” next year the plans are for a much bigger event with a very large prize pool, about $300,000.”
This year’s event brought out the competitors and the prize pool was $30,000.With so many dedicated , passionate competitors, one might wonder what it takes to judge these competitions. According to Cates, “Our judges have to be certified. That can be done in Kansas City . The judges do great to eat great food, but they are not paid to judge. The judges do get some perks which help them cover their travel costs such as really low hotel room rates .”