Who knew this writing-about-barbecue thing would lead to shoulder-rubbing with the upper-most layer of Dallas' upper-crust elite this quickly?
I was invited into the secret cabal of about 30 judges for Friday's Big D BBQ Battle, which regrettably had to be cut short due to rain at about 7 p.m. I mean, I still had two available punches on my wristband, entitling me to at least two more cups full of Four Corners brew, which set up four beer tents to quench the thirst of the over-meated masses wandering the Valley View Center parking lot.
Despite the early end to the evening, the experience still left me feeling #blessed.
The judge's tent was a veritable Dallas Who's Who. There were five specific criteria on which cabal-members were supposed to be grading beans, ribs and brisket on a 10-point scale in our blind taste test, but former KTVT sports anchor Gina Miller told me that for her, high scores were all about as little fat as possible on the brisket. I think she went and worked out for about three hours after taking 20-some tastes of ribs and brisket, following the bean-off.
Oh, and she burped on me. If that doesn't mean you've arrived, I don't know what does.
Other judges included CW33's News Fix meteorologist Kevin Roth, who wins "snappiest dresser" in the judge's tent, and the 43rd-ranked competitive eater in the entire whole universe, Alex "Moose" Perez.
— North Dallas Chamber (@NDCC) April 24, 2015
Good luck on making it to Coney Island for this year's Nathan's International Hot Dog Eating Contest, Moose. Someone in Dallas, step up and sponsor this man's unhealthy eating habit.
But the tippy top of the celebrity whirlwind I found myself wrapped up in at the Big D BBQ Battle was this:
A Burton Gilliam sighting, in full Blazing Saddles costume! I couldn't resist the fanboi photo-op. "Whirlwind" is actually a fitting term here -- common knowledge has Gilliam's character in the 1974 Western spoof, Lyle, giving American cinema its first-ever fart joke.
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The event was put on by the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce and benefited the North Texas Food Bank, which went hard in the paint with this impressive covered wagon smoker, and Cafe Momentum, which provides intensive culinary, job and life-skills training for youth exiting juvenile facilities.
The barbecue winners were showered with trophies crafted by artist members of the Gallery at Midtown at Valley View Mall, right as the skies opened up and showered the rest of us with rain. First place beans went to Asher Media, first place ribs went to Luna Data Solutions, first place brisket went to Neil Richards Group, and Grand Champion, for highest cumulative scores in all barbecue categories, went to Baker Brothers Plumbing.
My only regret is not knowing if I the winners were the ones I scored highly. Blind brisket sample #39 for the win.